i’m at my wits end. It has been three days since I’ve initiated my plan to remove a male Pseudochromis tonozukai from my reef. I’ve tried everything, but this fish is no ordinary dottyback. Highly intelligent, careful and secretive, he seems to be one step ahead of my every move. I should have never introduced him with the rest, knowing that behind his initial shy temperament harbours a more sinister future for everyone.
So far none of my blueprints for conventional trapping methods seem to be working. He’s never greedy enough to swim into a breeder trap loaded with food. He hates others of his kind, but is too cautious to fight his reflection in a glass jar. Having claimed a section of the reef, he sits there triumphant, and sheepishly laughing at my inevitable failure. It’s not usually this difficult to remove an unwanted fish that’s been causing trouble. A bait trap or a mirror trap usually works. I’ve been meaning to hook him out with a little fishing line, but again, he’s too weary and never greedy enough.
Last night, I planned a stake out to catch him in his sleep. I intend to blast the halide lamps to stun him and scoop him up in the darkness of night. Alas, he’s too cunning. The beast nests in a fortress of rocks far out of reach. Tearing my tank down is not an option. I knew conventional methods would not work. I had to think outside the box. Fight fire with fire is what I must do, and I will use his aggression as his weakness and to my advantage. Yes. That may just be crazy enough to work.
I managed to procure a female of his kind. Thankfully this species is sexually dichromatic, and the females are orange striped, making it easier to differentiate their sexes. My plan is to use her and bait him out of hiding, and hopefully with luck, he will venture into the cage and i’ll finally get him. Knowing his aggressive temperament, he would definitely want to kill this intruding female. Dottybacks are not usually friendly, and will only come together during specific conditions for mating. If my plan fails and she escapes however, I may wind up with having two in my tank.
The trap is set. In a clear breeder box, I have her contained. She is within sight of the male, and he definitely notices her. But he’s clever. He investigates gingerly. He definitely wants to get at her, but he’s careful. With a string tied to the door entrance, I lift it up. Not long enough for the female to escape, but enough for the male to come in. I do this time and again, opening when the male is near the cage, and closing when he’s away. Patience. Patience is what I need.
I did it! I outsmarted him at last. In his moment of weakness, he made a mistake. He went near the cage as he usually did, and this time I timed my opening. He slipped in to have a go at the female and I closed the door shut. Like a lion claiming his prize, I strut about with head held high. Finally, at last, after beating all my plans, outsmarting all my smarts, he succumbed. The mind of a sexually frustrated dottyback, a slave to his primeval urge to kill and to mate. One moment of his folly is mine to gloat forever.
That’s it then. I’m putting an end to the tonozukai chronicles. It has been a long frustrating episode. In future if I find myself stuck in the same predicament, I may consider fighting fire with fire.