like the parrot cichlid. And that is something
that I dread.
I should point out that all the surgeonfish
that are collected from the South Pacific
and Indian Ocean are quite expensive
anyway. They don’t have to be hybrids.
But it is understandable that most marine
hybrids, since they are rare, have a value as
I really like octopuses—
or should that be octopi?
I am not sure about the
plural, as I have seen it written both
ways in books. Is one more acceptable
than the other?
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The word “octopus” comes
from the Greek word oktopous,
meaning eight-footed, so the
plural should be “octopuses” or
“octopodes.” However, we are so used to Latin
words being used for living things that even
scientists may occasionally misstep and use
“octopi” as the plural. This question reminds
me of an old H. Allen Smith story about the
Hollywood producer who wanted to order
two mongooses for a picture, but he didn’t
know the plural of “mongoose.” So he simply
ordered one mongoose in a letter, but he put
in a postscript: “While you’re at it, send me
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An octopus photographed in its native
I have always seen gorgeous
common clownfish in my
local dealer’s tanks. I made
the mistake of buying by mail order and
got some clownfish that, quite frankly, have
very poor color. Is it always a problem to
order by mail?
I am a great advocate of
getting fish and other items
from your dealer, as he or she
is always there to help out. In
this case, he would be there for you to voice
your concerns. There are a couple of factors
that influence the color of clownfish. One is
nutrition. The other is the area from which
they were collected. For some reason, there
seem to be different color forms in different