Depressed and lonely fish who ate every friend he’s had celebrates 16th birthday


A depressed fish has celebrated his 16th birthday in Finland with a cake and candles in a brief moment of happiness.

Mikko, fell into depression when Linnanmaki Sea Life centre in Helsinki had to close for coronavirus lockdown, leading to staff going out of their way to help him.

The grumpy-looking Grouper fish has had depressive episodes throughout his life due to loneliness, which is mostly caused by his habit of eating the other fish in his tank.

His most recent pal, a poisonous red lionfish, was also eaten.

In a video from his birthday bash, Mikko skulks at the bottom of his tank while aquarium staff bring him a cake made out of salmon.

Mikko like having friends to play with but keeps eating them

Apparently interested in the light from the candles, Mikko swims over and inspects the cake.

He then gets very excited when the salmon is fed to him, thrashing around in the water as he snaps it up.

An aquarium spokeswoman said: “Mikko has lived on his own since the incident with the red lionfish which is also why he likes having company and visitors.

“This is seen with him being more active and moving around more.

“When we had to close the attraction during spring due to covid-19, the caretakers and other staff clearly saw that Mikko seemed more apathetic due to there not being any visitors.

Mikko is brought a birthday cake as he turns 16 years old
Mikko is brought a birthday cake as he turns 16 years old

“He was more still and distant than usual in his tank.”

During the covid-closure, caretakers and other staff started taking their lunch and coffee breaks by his tank to keep him company.

They also brushed him with a soft brush to keep him active and set up a TV to keep him company.

“Our aquarist also believes that he shows his feelings and emotions through changing his colour,” she added.

“He tends to be dark blue, but changes at time to light blue and dark blue with white spots.

“We have noticed that he tends to change colour when we have for example been to visit him or brushed him with a soft brush/sock.”

Mikko is a star attraction of Sea Life Helsinki aquariums in Linnanmaki
Mikko is a star attraction of Sea Life Helsinki aquariums in Linnanmaki

Mikko has lived at the aquarium since 2007 when he was donated by an aquarium shop after outgrowing their tanks and because he kept eating fish that lived in the same tank as him.

Whilst living at Sea Life he has moved tanks at least 3 times for similar reasons.

He gave staff a heart attack last December when he stole and swallowed a 35cm (13.7 inch) bottle brush that he grabbed from a keeper, leading to him being anesthetized so it could be surgically removed.

As a sociable animal, Mikko is notably happier when he is put in tanks with other fish, with whom he interacts and plays before he eventually eats them.

In spite of being unpopular with other fish, the 15kg (33 pounds) blue Grouper has been a favourite for the visiting public and has a fan wall by his tank.

The spokeswoman said: “Mikko is known as a curious fish, he clearly checks out the visitors that come and see him.

“Quite often he likes to just stare at you and only move occasionally.

“However, whenever he sees staff approaching he tends to get more active because he knows there is food coming.

“Some staff actually are a bit nervous of feeding him, because he reacts and swims very quickly and sometimes has tried to grab the feeding sticks together with the food.

“Since we opened in the summer and had visitors again, Mikko has shown positive signs again and is clearly more active again in his tank.

“We have still continued with the occasional brushing as he seems to really enjoy it.”

By (Sofie Jackson)

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