At a recent book talk, I was asked how I knew so much about breeding freshwater angelfish. In my latest book, Vicki's Key, Vicki Boyd takes a summer job helping an elderly woman with her angelfish breeding business. She arrives to find the woman has suffered a stroke and her Irish nephew is there to train Vicki how to care for and breed the angelfish.
I love freshwater angelfish. Contrary to what some books and pet store owners will tell you, they are very difficult to keep, primarily because they need special vitamins and they have a high mortality rate when they are young. But apparently conditions in my home are just right for them because every two weeks, I tend to get about 300 angelfish eggs laid.
Angels mate for life and they often live for ten years. In the video below, I have two pair of angels in one 70-gallon tank, along with some tetra to help provide them with a calm environment. The marble angel is a male named Lindsay Buckingfish. (I know. I name my angels. It's quirky.) The platinum angel in the right background is Stevie Fishnick. Stevie has just laid eggs on the filter and Lindsay is helping her guard them. The problem occurs when Pipsqueak Littlefish, the Band Manager (koi angel) wants to sample the sushi bar.
A close inspection of the fish afterward showed no damage to either of them. And today they are the best of friends, hanging out like guys do. The silver angelfish in the left side of the video, by the way, recently lost his mate, Christy McFish, a smoky leopard. I have a few more angels coming in this week so hopefully John McFish will find a new mate he can love and have eggs with.
Vicki's Key, Vicki is a CIA operative who decides she wants to leave the agency and start anew. But after she moves Lumberton, North Carolina, her CIA boss finds her and convinces her to come back. Through the rest of the series, she will remain an angelfish breeder as a front for her real job as a CIA operative.
Why is she a fish breeder, you might ask? Because I needed to give her a job that sounds boring. It had to be something solitary; she couldn't work in a cubicle and leave in front of coworkers who might question her absences as she's pulled into missions. She works out of her home with a building in the back of the property that serves as the "fish house". As she's pulled into social settings, she can numb them quickly with talk of water parameters, which makes it unlikely for her vocation to be of much interest to anyone else.
So while the neighbors think she's living a totally boring life, she's actually experiencing quite a bit of drama, including murders, espionage and international intrigue.
p.m.terrell is an internationally acclaimed, award winning author. Her 13th book, Vicki's Key, was released in the spring of 2012 and is a nominee for both the 2012 International Book Awards and the 2012 USA Best Book Awards. Her 14th book, the sequel to Vicki's Key, will be released this fall. For more information, visit www.pmterrell.com.