While fish seem like easy pets, taking care of an aquarium is no simple task. Every condition has to be just right for the marine life to thrive, and the smallest adjustment can lead to the flush of a toilet and a sad, empty tank.
This was no news to a YouTuber who had been taking care of fish for years, but even experts make mistakes sometimes. When he began noticing an unfortunate change within his aquarium, he knew something was up, but it wasn’t easy figuring out what was hiding in plain sight…
YouTube user Gurutek was certainly no novice when it came to caring for aquariums. He owned a giant tank filled with a wide variety of coral and fish and had posted about it on YouTube on more than one occasion.
His subscribers were big fans of his exploits, which blew away their expectations for a seemingly simple topic. In fact, one discovery brought in 8 million view shortly after being shared on the website.
Naturally, someone who posts videos about their fish tank and how to take care of it knows a thing or two. He knew how to get the water into ideal conditions where the fish and coral would thrive.
But then one day, he woke up, checked on his beloved tank and noticed something was off — very off. Gurutek took one glimpse at his tank and saw a sudden lack of color.
And that wasn’t the only unsettling thing that he noticed either. As he inspected the tank more closely he realized something shocking: the tank was a lot emptier than it had been before…
A whole chunk of his gorgeous, colorful coral had completely vanished! He knew that some fish, like parrotfish, use coral as a food source. But none of the fish species he kept in his tank ate coral!
So, Gurutek checked the water’s acidity, salinity, and temperature because these things could all affect the health of the coral. He even checked for possible diseases, but he didn’t find anything that could’ve led to the coral disappearing overnight.
In order to keep the rest of the colonies alive and healthy, he knew that he’d have to buy some more coral. Set on keeping his aquarium beautiful and thriving, he went to the store and added new coral to his tank.
Still, even with the new coral installed, Gurutek couldn’t let the mystery go. What had caused the coral to vanish into thin air (or water) in the first place, and would it happen again if he didn’t intervene? That’s when he started researching…
One of the reasons he may not have noticed the cause of the coral problem was that most ocean predators hunt at night. If there was something eating the contents of his aquarium, he would have to stay up all night to catch it.
Thus, he sat in the dark next to the tank for hours, in the hope to find what had terrorized the home of his fish. However, he saw nothing, and eventually dozed off. Still, he was persistent to figure out this puzzle.
A few nights later, his determination and dedication finally paid off. He spotted something moving — no, slithering in the sand on the bottom of the tank. However, without lights, it was hard to see what it could be.
Over the next entire year, he saw more coral fall to the nibbler, but he only managed to spot the culprit a total of three times. Still, he couldn’t just keep buying new coral. Something had to be done.
That’s when he suddenly came upon an idea: if he moved parts of the aquarium bit by bit, only his nemesis would remain. He took the fish, the rocks, and the fish to a temporary tank.
Now, all that was left were pieces of dead coral laying at the bottom of the aquarium, where the sand and the suspected trouble in the tank were located.
With the help of an aquarium grabber, Gurutek ruffled through the sand to see if the culprit would reveal itself. Finally, it moved out of the shadows and into the light! The mystery was solved…
Gurutek and his pals couldn’t believe their eyes as the creature wiggled its way out of the sand. It was like a water snake, but it had tiny feet like a centipede, and it appeared to be headless — not something you want to find in your home!
After the initial shock, Gurutek looked up online what this creature could possibly be: it was a sand striker, or a Bobbitt worm, which lives on the ocean floor and tends to ambush its prey while it hunts. In fact, with its incredible speed and sharp teeth, it can wreak havoc on whatever it sets its eyes on.
With no idea what to do with the little monster, he reached out to a marine fish keeper, who was glad to take the worm off his hands. Gurutek’s big find also inspired others to take a closer look at oddities they noticed around sea life.
As soon as the Dickinson family — comprised of Adam, Eve, and their two kids — stepped on to Auckland’s Pakiri Beach, they saw this purple blob in the sand. They had no idea what it was — or what it was capable of.
Adam and Eve Dickinson via News Hub
So naturally, the two kids, Sofia and Lucas, sprinted over to it with all the reckless abandon of children on a mission to satisfy their curiosities about something wildly unsafe and potentially dangerous.
Adam and Eve Dickinson via Newshub
This concerned Adam and Eve, who didn’t wish to see their children succumb to a purple, potentially poisonous beach blob, so they, too, approached the mysterious thing in the sand.
Eve Dickinson / Facebook
“My initial thought was ‘don’t let my kids touch it,'” Adam told the news sometime after the ordeal. With the family of four now all gathered around the mystery substance, they all echoed the same question: what the heck was it?
The Dickinson’s launched an informal investigation. The first thing they noticed? The purple blob was pulsating. Moving. Like Frankenstein’s monster, it was alive.
“It almost looked like a load of muscles contracting,” Adam recalled. “It was pretty incredible and really hard to describe.” Meanwhile, the kids were reminded of something oddly specific when they looked at the blob.
Lucas told his mom the creature looked like a volcano; it had, after all, sloping sides and what looked like a crater of bubbling purple lava. This was obviously no volcano, so the Dickinsons investigated further.
Despite their initial concerns about the pulsating creature, the family — to our benefit — proceeded to place check after check on the list of things you should not do to foreign, potentially dangerous things…
Eve Dickinson / Facebook
For instance, Lucas and Sofia blew on the thing. To the kids’ delights, the more they blew on the creature, the more it moved, confirming, yep, it was very much alive and was very much aware of outside stimuli.
With this understanding, the Dickinsons grabbed a stick and prodded the blob. Sure enough, Eve recalled the creature moved even more when the stick prodded its meat.
While the kids poked, prodded, and blew on the creature, Adam and Eve noted something peculiar about the beach: tons of jellyfish were scattered across the shore. This answered the question, right?
2cycle2gether / flickr
See, for a moment, they thought their mystery creature was just a jellyfish washed ashore. But still, their pulsating friend looked nothing like the other jellyfish. Maybe their guy was just upside down or something?
So with their stick, the Dickinsons flipped over some of the other jellyfish that’d washed up on the shore, hoping this would prove their creature was just a really big, really upside-down jellyfish.
But even upside-down, the landlocked jellyfish still looked nothing like the captivating creature that had so entranced the family. They were back to square one, so, eventually, the marine experts chimed in with answers.
A member of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Diana Macpherson, knew almost instantly what this “common” creature was.
The purple, pulsating blob that had entranced Adam, Eve, Sofia, and Lucas on the jellyfish-laden shores of Pakiri Beach was, according to Diana, the largest species of jellyfish found in New Zealand waters: the lion’s mane jellyfish!
These huge jellyfish can grow as big as seven feet wide with tentacles a hundred feet long. Those long tentacles give it a sort of lion’s mane — hence the creature’s name.
As it turned out, Adam was right to want to keep his kids away initially. While these jellyfish aren’t deadly, their tentacles carry toxins that can deliver some serious welts to those unfortunate enough to get caught in the “mane.”
This particular jellyfish was also a bit of an oddity. Normally, lion’s manes wash up on shore in the summer or spring, when plankton start blooming. This one washed up in autumn.
Whatever the odds of a lion’s mane washing up in September, the Dickinsons were delighted with the experience. “It was incredible,” Adam recalled.