Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mystery of live fish that fell from a tree


Three women in North Vancouver are trying to reunite an exotic fish that fell out of a tree with its owner. Cindy Wilkinson got home on Monday to find a voice message from her friend Jan Bailey. "She said, 'The strangest thing just happened. A fish just fell out of our cedar tree on to the ground.'" Bailey had seen the fish dive into her backyard. Her husband went out to investigate, and found the piscine drop-in covered in cedar needles but still alive. It was an unusual looking fish, reddy orange and about 25 centimetres long. Bailey hauled out an old aquarium, filled it with water and put the fish inside.

Then she called Wilkinson, who promptly called Lynda Taylor, another friend who knows her fish and has a big koi pond. "I said, 'There's a fish that just fell out of a tree,'" said Bailey. The friends decided some Internet sleuthing was in order. A quick check showed the mystery fish was probably a cichlid, an aquarium fish native to South and Central America and usually kept in indoor aquariums. Wilkinson and Taylor took it to a local pet store and had its identity as a Midas cichlid con-firmed; it's described online as a "rather robust fish." What's still a mystery is how the fish ended up in the tree.

"Maybe someone was cleaning out its tank and left it outside for a minute," said Wilkinson. Taylor said it's also possible the cichlid was put in an outdoor pond for the summer. Her best guess is an eagle or a heron, seeing a potential meal, snatched it from the water and dropped the fish from its perch. For now, Taylor has set up the cichlid, nicknamed Lucky, in a small 30-gallon tank with pH-balanced water, plants and a bubbler to aerate his environment. "He's swimming around and he's happy," said Wilkinson.

Because Midas cichlids can be aggressive towards other fish, Lucky has the tank to himself. Lucky has also turned from orange to a paler peach colour. Taylor, who already has koi, shubunkins, goldfish and rosy reds, is keeping a close eye on the new arrival. "I've saved a lot of fishes. But not a cichlid. And not one that's fallen out of a tree," she said. What Taylor and Wilkinson hope to do is to reunite the fish with its owner. "Who is going to think their fish is alive?" asked Wilkinson. "It's an unusual fish. I'm sure not many people have lost one of these things."

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