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History of Animals   


lives in mud, it has every now and then to make a leap upwards out
of the mud so as to wash the slime from off its body. There is no
creature known to prey upon the spawn of the cephalus, so that the
species is exceedingly numerous; when, however, the is full-grown it
is preyed upon by a number of fishes, and especially by the acharnas
or bass. Of all fishes the mullet is the most voracious and
insatiable, and in consequence its belly is kept at full stretch;
whenever it is not starving, it may be considered as out of condition.
When it is frightened, it hides its head in mud, under the notion that
it is hiding its whole body. The synodon is carnivorous and feeds on
molluscs. Very often the synodon and the channa cast up their stomachs
while chasing smaller fishes; for, be it remembered, fishes have their
stomachs close to the mouth, and are not furnished with a gullet.
Some fishes then, as has been stated, are carnivorous, and
carnivorous only, as the dolphin, the synodon, the gilt-head, the
selachians, and the molluscs. Other fishes feed habitually on mud or
sea-weed or sea-moss or the so-called stalk-weed or growing plants; as
for instance, the phycis, the goby, and the rock-fish; and, by the
way, the only meat that the phycis will touch is that of prawns.
Very often, however, as has been stated, they devour one another,
and especially do the larger ones devour the smaller. The proof of
their being carnivorous is the fact that they can be caught with flesh
for a bait. The mackerel, the tunny, and the bass are for the most
part carnivorous, but they do occasionally feed on sea-weed. The
sargue feeds on the leavings of the trigle or red mullet. The red
mullet burrows in the mud, when it sets the mud in motion and quits
its haunt, the sargue settles down into the place and feeds on what is
left behind, and prevents any smaller fish from settling in the
immediate vicinity.
Of all fishes the so-called scarus, or parrot, wrasse, is the
only one known to chew the cud like a quadruped.
As a general rule the larger fishes catch the smaller ones in
their mouths whilst swimming straight after them in the ordinary
position; but the selachians, the dolphin, and all the cetacea must
first turn over on their backs, as their mouths are placed down below;
this allows a fair chance of escape to the smaller fishes, and,
indeed, if it were not so, there would be very few of the little
fishes left, for the speed and voracity of the dolphin is something
marvellous.
Of eels a few here and there feed on mud and on chance morsels
of food thrown to them; the greater part of them subsist on fresh
water. Eel-breeders are particularly careful to have the water kept
perfectly clear, by its perpetually flowing on to flat slabs of
stone and then flowing off again; sometimes they coat the eel-tanks
with plaster. The fact is that the eel will soon choke if the water is
not clear as his gills are peculiarly small. On this account, when
fishing for eels, they disturb the water. In the river Strymon
eel-fishing takes place at the rising of the Pleiads, because at
this period the water is troubled and the mud raised up by contrary
winds; unless the water be in this condition, it is as well to leave
the eels alone. When dead the eel, unlike the majority of fishes,
neither floats on nor rises to the surface; and this is owing to the
smallness of the stomach. A few eels are supplied with fat, but the
greater part have no fat whatsoever. When removed from the water
they can live for five or six days; for a longer period if north winds
prevail, for a shorter if south winds. If they are removed in summer
from the pools to the tanks they will die; but not so if removed in
the winter. They are not capable of holding out against any abrupt
change; consequently they often die in large numbers when men
engaged in transporting them from one place to another dip them into
water particularly cold. They will also die of suffocation if they
be kept in a scanty supply of water. This same remark will hold good
for fishes in general; for they are suffocated if they be long
confined in a short supply of water, with the water kept

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