Blue TangPhoto Courtesy of Dave Souza

Fish Survives Hours Out Of Water After Robbery

by Jon Slomski

In an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago, robbers broke into Animal Instincts Aquarium & Pet Center in Fall River, Massachusetts.  Tanks were smashes, money was taken, and we bare witness to one of the most resilient reef fish to ever set fin on earth. After the robbers broke into the store they took it upon themselves to break the reef aquarium where “Big Blue” an 18 year old female Regal Tang was trying to catch some sleep.  As they broke this aquarium, security cameras caught everything in it including “Big Blue” spewing out onto the floor of the store.  Since the intruders came through the glass of the store, the alarm was not triggered and Big Blue lay on the ground for an unbelievable 6 hours.   When the store owner arrived the next day to find the store broken into, they also found “Big Blue” still alive in a pile of aquarium rubble.  Yes, 6 hours out of water.  It is impressive in itself for her to be alive in captivity for 18 years but I suppose she as tough as they come.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Souza

Keep A Lid On Your Reef ?

A scenario like this is most likely one in a million. There are some mud-skippers  catfish and a few others like the snake heads who have been known to live out of water for several hours if not longer, but it is unheard of for a tropical reef fish. If you have been in the hobby of keeping fish long enough you surely have gone through the “ carpet surfer” and found wrasse,eel or even you child’s favorite “nemo” fish on the floor one morning.  Even tanks with normally complacent reef fish should be protected with some sort of lid or shield as any fish can be startled and make the leap to its crunchy desiccated demise.  Here at ReefNation, we use a variety of things to keep this from happening   Some tanks can have a simple lid made out of a fine clear mesh while some of out larger tanks with moving canopies have “plastic curtains”  that will slide any fish that jumps out gently back into the aquarium.  The only tank that is difficult to guard against a jumper are the main grow out basin tanks.  In these tanks knock on wood the height of the tank edge coupled with ample swimming room for the fish should hopefully guard against any attempt at a leap of faith.

There is nothing more disappointing than coming to check on your tank in the morning and finding a fish dead on the floor.  In the case of Big Blue, the coming days and weeks will tell the tale for her survival as the stress of an event like this can sometimes be delayed from the shock of the whole event.  At least so far though. this story from Massachusetts, has a good ending and we wish luck to Big Blue the amazing Regal Tang. 

Have you had an experience with a fish jumping out of your tank?  Did they survive?