Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Babysitter

In my last book release, Dylan's Song, Vicki and Dylan are sent to Dylan's native Ireland. Dylan's grandmother, the woman who raised him, is dying. And Sam, ever the professional CIA supervisor, seizes the opportunity to send Vicki and Dylan on a CIA mission.

Meanwhile, they have their freshwater angelfish business to run. It's their "front" to keep friends and neighbors from knowing their real occupation as CIA operatives. And there's a catch: their front requires feeding and caring for live angelfish, which means when they leave town, they need backup.

Fish can actually go for several days without eating, though I imagine they are not too happy about it. In the event of a power outage, one way to keep the nitrite and nitrate levels down is to reduce their feeding either by the frequency or volume - or even go a couple of days without feeding them at all.

However, when there are newborn fry, the rules change. They need food and lots of it. Their mouths are tiny and their stomachs are about the size of their eye - or the end of a pin. So while they can't eat much at a time, they need frequent feedings.

In Dylan's Song, Sam stays behind to care for the fish. He makes a mess of it, suspecting fish are dying when they're actually sleeping... and when the parents eat some of their fry, he really freaks out.

I started this blog because so many people told me they had been unable to keep angelfish alive. In my opinion, they are the most beautiful of all freshwater fish. Their shapes are so distinctive that they are considered the most recognizable fish in the world.