Lose One, Win One

Ugh, I think one of the worst things about this hobby is losing fish.

And when I say lose fish, it’s a pretty vague term because in reef tanks there’s two types of losing fish. The first one is seeing your livestock visibly dead and needing to be fished out, and the second one is just fish is gone. No body, no appearance, just a complete disappearance.

I honestly think the second type of loss is the worst because there’s no way to confirm whether the fish is gone or not without ripping out all the rock, and then it becomes an entire endeavor. And yet, that’s the first kind of fish loss I experienced in this reef tank of mine.

When I buy fish, there’s a certain amount of planning and thought that goes into it. It’s not just about buying a fish that looks good but also finding one that will fit into your aquarium without causing aggression or overstocking. Knowing that my fish tank has a 33g display volume and is only 2 feet long, I wouldn’t add a fish that gets longer than 6 inches or needs a tank larger than 30 gallons (like a tang).

It also means that given those constraints, I’m extremely limited in the type of fish I can add to my tank which also meet my personal fancy.

That said, I spent a good month or so researching what kind of wrasse would work with my tank type because wrasses are so popular in reef tanks but many of them also require more than 60 gallons minimum. Eventually, I settled on the possum wrasse over the pink streaked and six line due to their appearance and personality.

After looking around, I managed to find a store in North Carolina that had a white banded possum available. I paid for overnight shipping, had it delivered.

White Banded Possum Wrasse

I loved it ever since I first laid eyes on it. It has a striking appearance, but it also has a cuteness to it with its giant eyes. But, the fish I received was actually really stressed, and I had a sinking feeling that the fish wasn’t going to make it. From the moment I took out the bag from the box, I saw that the fish was floating on its side towards the top, and if it moved, it would move towards the bottom of the bag and float in a 45 degree angle with its tail floating up top.

I went ahead and tried to acclimate it in a box, but I could tell it was still stressed out. Given how cryptid these guys are, many people suggested not trying to acclimate them into a box and just letting them loose into the display. So I did, and I watched the fish disappear into my big rock work. That was the last time I saw that fish. It’s been over two weeks, and I still have not seen this fish come out again, even at night.

I’m pretty sure the fish is gone. I’ve read that sometimes people find or see a fish that disappeared months ago for the first time again, but I’m not very hopeful with this fish given how stressed it was when I first received it.

I’m actually very upset to have my first fish loss with this tank; that it was with this possum wrasse no less. It was a hassle trying to procure it, and I have nothing to show for it now. So, obviously, the only thing I can do now is just to get another possum wrasse. But, what if there are no more white banded possum wrasses available?

So, I settled for the yellow banded possum wrasse this time. Yes, I say settled because honestly I think the white banded possum looks the best and there weren’t anymore of those or the Tanakas available. So, I only had the option of the yellow banded. Considering even the yellow banded possums are fairly rare in terms of availability, I went ahead and purchased it.

So, I placed my order (with a different vendor who had it in stock), but I really didn’t have high hopes for this one either. Luckily, the odds were in my favor this time.

The yellow banded possum wrasse I received was more lively in the bag. I went ahead and acclimated it in my tank for a couple hours to make sure it wasn’t too weak to swim in the flow and let it loose in the display tank. And, instead of immediately gunning for the rocks, it floated around and took its time taking in its new surroundings.

Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse

Its been about 5 days since I’ve added the second possum wrasse, and I’ve seen him swimming around every morning pecking at pods. He has a curious way of swimming, almost like he propels himself through the water instead of swimming side to side.

I’ve grown to appreciate his personality because he doesn’t seem as shy as most possums. He really only seems camera shy, and I’m glad to at least have one success story with a possum wrasse since there are people who seem to have no success with them at all. It’s almost like this second wrasse was a complete redemption fish sent by the fish gods who took pity on me regarding my terrible first experience.

If you don’t have a possum wrasse, I highly recommend it. They can be weirdly fun to watch. I’m hoping to get a better macro lens soon so that I can take some real photos of my fish.