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"Play dead," fishy

By Leonard Ho - Posted Jan 09, 2017 09:00 AM
Some fish have a strange and unexplained habit of lying perfectly still - sometimes on their sides or even their backs. It's a really fascinating behavior that is both entertaining and terrifying seen for the first time for an owner who thinks his fish is dying.
"Play dead," fishy

Photo by "Cassium" (C.C. 3.0)

The owner of this parrot cichilid suggests that he can order his fish to play dead on command, but we suspect it's a bit of an act.  Parrot cichlids are one of a few tropical fish aquarist keep that will often exhibit this odd self-initiated tonic immobility.  No one really knows why.

Another common type of fish that "plays dead" are loaches, such as clown loaches.  Many fishkeepers panic when they see their loaches lying sideways only to realize after time that they're just being lovable goofballs.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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