Is There Truth To The “Barracuda Glass Experiment” Story?

Barracuda

Some of you may have browsed the Internet and read about an experiment involving barracudas. The experiment involved a school of barracudas, a tank of water, a clear sheet of glass and another school of fish that barracudas enjoy eating. An aquarium would be filled with water and a sheet of glass placed in the middle. A harmless group of fish would be placed on one side. On the other, the barracuda, who would immediately try and attack the other fish.

The Story Goes Like This

Allegedly, the barracuda would continue to try and attack its prey, despite the presence of the glass between them. This would continue until the barracuda accepted that the fish were simply incapable of being touched. The kicker? After removing the glass, the barracuda would still resist attacking.

Years of seeing this circulate on the Internet makes one wonder: did this experiment actually happen? And if it did, what were the actual results?

A Good Tale, But Very Likely Not Real

The major reason why this story is likely false is because there seems to be no way of verifying an actual experiment. Something like this would be of major interest a person interested in the habits of fish. And yet not one peer-reviewed article seems to be available. When the story is written or told, it’s always vague. Someone did the experiment in Japan, or was it Europe? It was a scientist, wasn’t it? Unfortunately, there are no exact names and places.

One source even suggested the reader try this, although it’s hard to imagine a person could just go and buy a barracuda without some kind of special permit.

Experiment Was Likely Never Meant To Be Taken Literally

Aside from being an urban legend of sorts, the “barracuda glass experiment” story serves a purpose; it informs the reader of the dangerousness of accepting mental and emotional defeat. The lesson is that often there are barriers to getting what we want out of life. And that no matter how hard we try, it may feel as if you are going nowhere. And then one day, that barrier is gone. But because you’ve already accepted that you cannot achieve a goal, you’ll no longer try, even if there’s nothing stopping you —even if the barrier was only ever in your mind.

The result is that the idea of using barracudas for an experiment was likely never something that actually happened. Instead, the barracuda-glass wall story seems to exist to motivate readers to not give up on their goals and to try and get the most out of life. In other words, don’t learn the lessons of failure so well that you believe success is no longer possible.

The Humble, Helpful Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)

mosquitofish

Native to North and Central America, the mosquitofish isn’t exactly the belle of the aquatic ball. A plain relative of the guppy, the mosquitofish has little use for the indoor aquarist other than as live food for larger, more interesting tank residents.

Outside, however, the mosquitofish is an essential resident of pools and water features. The voracious little fish targets and eats pesky aquatic insect larvae before they mature, including the mosquito (hence the name).

Mosquitoes and North America

Mosquitoes are usually thought of as an annoying summertime pest, but the little bloodsuckers are capable of transmitting virulent diseases. North American mosquitoes have long carried St. Louis encephalitis, western equine encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis.

With climate changes and invasive mosquito populations, the United States is seeing an increase in mosquito-borne disease. West Nile Virus is now well-established on the continent. Texas now sees outbreaks of Dengue fever, a disease also found in Hawaii. Controlling mosquitoes is no longer just about avoiding itchy bites; now it’s about health and well-being.

Outdoor Ponds and Mosquitofish

The need for mosquito control brings us back to the mosquitofish, which may qualify as nature’s best mosquito trap. Like guppies, mosquitofish are live breeders. A brood can include as many as 100 quarter-inch fry, all of which are capable of eating mosquito larvae from birth.

Mosquitofish are used to control insects in outdoor pools, unused swimming pools and even animal drinking troughs. The 3-inch adults are hardy little fish, but they’re peaceful enough to be kept with other pond fish. In addition to mosquito larvae, they eat other water-based insect larvae and help control algae.

Physically, the mosquitofish isn’t much to look at. Males are smaller than females, with narrow bodies and a pointed anal fin. Females are larger, with deeper bodies and a rounded anal fin. Both sexes are a plain grayish-white in both the body and the tail.

Mosquitofish Habitat

If you choose to add mosquitofish to your pond, give them some vegetation to hide in. Fry benefit from floating plants or a breeding patch, as adults will cannibalize fry unless you provide newborns a safe hiding place. If the pond doesn’t produce enough wild food, you can feed mosquitofish with a standard flake food.

In colder climates, mosquitofish are capable of surviving winter in the pond, assuming the pond doesn’t freeze to the bottom. Aerating the water during winter helps the fish survive.

Invasive Possibilities

Like any aquarium or pond fish, mosquitofish should not be released into the wild, where they can damage local ecosystems. In California, for instance, released mosquitofish have been linked to declines in several amphibian species.

When used as mosquito control in home ponds, however, the mosquitofish is a highly effective pest controller.

Adrienne Erin is a prolific writer who loves animals, writing, and speaking French. Catch up with her recent projects by following her on Twitter: @adrienneerin

Image credit: Wikipedia

Getting Rid of the Aquarium Snails

One day you look at your aquarium and you notice a tiny snail in the tank. It looks harmless. A week later the snail has half a dozen of fellow companions and, before you know it, the aquarium is full of them. Where did they come from? How were they able to reproduce so quickly? What can be done to get rid of them? Those who have ever tried to get rid of snails know that it’s a hard battle, but there are certain things you can do to maintain the aquarium and keep it free from snails.

aquarium

When you bought the aquarium, there were no snails inside, so where they actually came from? Snails usually arrive at the aquarium attached to plants in the form of small eggs that we often overlook and don’t  remove when the plants were washed (it could also be gravel, stones or roots).

Sometimes, they come together with fish. It takes one snail or just a few snail eggs and your beautiful aquarium becomes a snail oasis.

Perhaps one of the most amazing things about snails is that they reproduce so quickly. A snail doesn’t need to mate to multiply as it can fertilize its eggs itself. Moreover, during the day snails usually hide in the gravel and only come out at night to feed on plants, so you can assume that the individual that you see stuck to the aquarium glass, has dozens or hundreds of brothers, living somewhere underground. Each of them are able to reproduce rapidly so your snail problem can grow really fast.

Although snails reproduce fast and spend days in their hiding places, you can still win the battle.

Try luring them outside with the lettuce leaf that you stick to the aquarium glass for night and in the morning you will probably find the whole snail family feeding on the lettuce. Of course, you won’t eliminate every snail using this very method, but at least you can control their population.

Another solution is to place snail-eating fish in the aquarium. Any fish belonging to the loach family will be eager to dine on snails. Also, labyrinth fish such as Gourami or Fighting Fish are likely to eat snails, although they are not much experienced in searching for food under the gravel, which is snails’ most favorite hiding place.

Finally, you can also lessen the amount of food you give to the fish. If you reduce the amount of food given to fish, snails also eat less. As a result, they will not be able to reproduce at such a quick pace.

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