There are three turtles and four goldfish in my apartment. Over time I have noticed distinct differences in each that distinguishes them from the others. First, the fish. They are called John, Paul, George and Ringo. Two are solid orange, one solid black, and one dappled white and orange. One of the orange fish is a bully who is always chasing the black one. The black one is a slower swimmer, and I always feel sorry for it. I worry that it will accidentally kill itself by jumping out of the water to escape the orange one, or that it will be driven go a premature death by exhaustion- or stress-induced heart attack. What’s up with the orange one? Is it a territorial thing? Is it driving rivals out of its section of the aquarium? Or, is it a food thing? Is the orange one fighting off competitors for food? Maybe it is a sexual thing - like the black is female and the orange one male, and he is pursuing her amorously. It would not be the first time that love imitates aggression. I watch this going on every day and it causes me some distress.
Second, the turtles. There is a large one, a medium sized one and a small one. I don’t really have names for them. At first I tried calling them Abomination, Apostasy, and Apocalypse. But nobody understood what I was talking about. Plus it they were difficult to remember and took too much time and energy to say, let along explain. So then I toyed with the idea of calling them Huckleberry, Jerryberry, and Bellyberry. But now I just think of them as One, Two and Three. Each one has its preferred place in the aquarium, each one eats differently, and each one behaves differently on the sunning rock. The smallest one is the best eater. But it is also the shiest, always the first to jump back into the water from the sunning rock when anyone approaches. I worry that it will knock itself out and drown by hitting its head when it jumps off the rock so fast. By comparison, the largest one is quite courageous and does not flee when people come near. While the large one is on its rock, the small one resumes its favored underwater position direction under the intake hose of the water pump that recycles and filters the water. I used to worry that it was stuck there, trapped under water by the power of the suction up the tube. But no, it just likes it there. When the big one is not on his rock he is almost always under it, head in the gravel, trying to dig. It can dig a little, because the gravel is thick enough. But where is it trying to go? The medium size one is somewhere between these other personalities. It suns itself and doesn’t scurry away so fast. It follows the larger one when it flees. It pokes its head out of the water and watches you. It is always hanging around with the big one - resting atop its shell under water, or staying close by when it has its head buried in the gravel. Maybe there is some kind of connection there.
The turtles do not display any aggression like that one goldfish does. Like turtles in the wild they are seem fairly oblivious to each other by climbing over one another on the sunning rock, like the Dr. Seuss book Yertle the Turtle - perhaps the best book ever written on the topic of turtle stacking.