If you’re building a marine aquarium and the thought of putting an octopus in it crosses your mind, consider not doing that. Consider not doing that so hard that you put this ill-conceived notion to permanent rest, no matter how much fun Finding Dory made it sound. An octopus makes for a difficult, finicky, and potentially even dangerous marine-aquarium inhabitant, best left to nature and specialists.
China is home to a fish so rare that photographs of living specimens can be counted on two hands. Its lineage is so bizarre that it has only one close relative, found a continent away, and its skeleton straddles the anatomical cues that divide cartilaginous and bony fish. Even within its kin group, its habits and anatomy are unique.
The Chinese paddlefish or báixún, Psephurus gladius, is the only apparent preferential piscivore in the order Acipenseriformes. (The North American paddlefish is a planktivore, and sturgeons prefer shellfish.) Unlike its American sibling, its “paddle” is conical, and it is sometimes termed the “Chinese swordfish,” “white sturgeon,” or “elephant fish.” As an active, predatory schooling fish, it was once known for leaping across the surface of the Yangtze in large numbers. Rumor holds it can exceed seven meters in length and therefore rivals the beluga sturgeon for status as the largest freshwater or anadromous fish on our planet. However, the largest recorded specimen did not exceed a still-impressive four meters. Chances are, no Chinese paddlefish ever will.
CN veterinary imagery
This week, I expanded my blogging horizons by giving my readers the option to ask me questions they’ve been curious about. The result was a mix of questions about me and things they hope I write about at greater length in the future, and it’s been fun to read and to contemplate.
My autistic brain faces a whole series of seemingly ordinary situations with annoyed, helpless dread. Gatherings with friends-of-friends that involve changing locales, especially if some of those locales are nightclubs, set my mind into panic mode—do I stay, do I go, which group do I stick with, if they disband again what happens, if I lose them do I wait, how much does my opinion of where to go actually matter, do I even want this evening to continue? Phone calls from unexpected people disproportionately mean something has gone horribly wrong, and leaving my apartment when the neighbors are in the hallway means I might face the specter of small talk during the contemplative silence of my morning walk to the bus.
Those nightmares pale before the noctilucent stomach churn that is neurotypical people telling me how to do things.