Friday, September 3

fish love

Already while building [the nest], the male radiates the most gorgeous colours, which gain in depth and iridescence when a female approaches. Like lightening, he shoots towards her and glowing, halts. If the female is prepared to accept him, she demonstrates it by investing herself with a characteristic, if modest colouring consisting of light grey vertical stripes on a brown background. With fins closely folded, she swims towards the male who, trembling with excitement, expands all his fins to breaking point and holds himself in such a position that the dazzling brilliance of his full broadside is presented to his bride. Next moment he swims off with a sweeping, gracefully sinuous movement, in the direction of the nest. The beckoning nature of this gesture is at once apparent even when seen for the first time ... The movement says: "I am swimming away from you, hurry up and follow me!" At the same time, the fish swims neither too fast nor far and turns back immediately to the female who is following but timidly and shyly in his wake.

In this way the female is enticed under the bubble nest and now follows the wonderful love- play which resembles, in delicate grace, a minuet, but in general style, the trance dance of a Balinese temple dancer. In this love dance, by age- old law, the male must always exhibit his magnificent broadside to his partner, but the female must remain constantly at right angles to him ... he moves in circles round the female and she follows his every movement by keeping her head always turned towards him; the love- dance is thus executed in a small circle, exactly under the middle of the nest. Now the colours become more glowing, more frantic the movements, ever smaller the circles, until the bodies touch. Then, suddenly, the male slings his body tightly round the female, gently turns her on her back and quivering, both fulfil the great act of reproduction. Ova and semen are discharged simultaneously.

-- Konrad Z. Lorenz King Solomon's Ring