Who's your crawdaddy / Games over

Escape artist and survivor Chompy, a Mexican mini-lobster, insouciantly posing on a log in his aquarium; below him, a pot containing aquarium greenery knocked on its side
Image courtesy of the author

Today: A.J. Daulerio, editor, journalist and the proprietor of The Small Bow; and Jonathan M. Katzauthor of Gangsters of Capitalism, and The Racket newsletter.

Issue No. 111

Consider the Mexican Mini-Lobster
A.J. Daulerio

When the Cheering Stops
Jonathan M. Katz

Consider the Mexican Mini-Lobster

by A.J. Daulerio

Around this time last year, we introduced a small, ten-gallon fish tank into our home to help our three young children (all under seven) learn to care for living creatures. I put in a few fish: some colorful tetras, a pleco, a silver catfish, and other low-maintenance “starter” fish to help get them interested. It worked—they loved the fish. And each of our children began to name them. There was one named Pinky. One was Shiny. I think there was a Stripey.

A couple of weeks into settling the tank, I took our oldest boy, age 6, to Fumi’s Tropical Fish in Los Angeles to pick out his own fish. After a quick scan of the tanks, my son zoomed in on one full of “mini lobsters” (Mexican crayfish) and chose the biggest one. I asked the fish person in the store if the mini-lobster would get along with the rest of the tank. She assured me he would and that he usually just hides and feeds on the leftover flakes stuck to the gravel and the fish poop and minds his own business. So we got it, and on the ride home, he thought of a name.

“I’m gonna call him Chompy,” he said. 

When we finally got him home and dumped him into the tank, Chompy crawled into the SpongeBob castle my youngest son had picked out as a decoration and quickly claimed it. The other fish looked worried. You can probably guess what happened next. The following morning, the catfish—a sleek, silvery Pictus with several cool black spots—was decapitated when it attempted to swim close to the castle and much too close to Chompy’s oversized pincers. Chompy ate the rest of the body for an afternoon snack. The tiger barb went a couple of days later. It appeared Chompy had dragged it back to the SpongeBob castle the same way a crocodile would do to an unlucky zebra who’d taken a bad route crossing a river. Within an hour, there was nothing left of Stripey. Chompy had developed a thirst for blood.

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