Fliir in the ancient days were ordinary fish. They would swim and eat like normal fish, jumping out of the water to get away from bigger fish trying to eat them. Certain species, however, were able to process the trace amounts of levistone more efficiently than others. These fish, when jumping out of the water, did not fall back into the water as quickly as others. Of these fish achieving longer airborne times, fish with larger fins took longer still. Over time evolution led these fish to grow overly large, muscled front fins to catch the air and glide across the water. Modern Fliir have the ability to flap their fins and are able to actually fly for short periods of time.
Once out of the water, fliir have been known to travel 25-30 miles per hour, and up to 43 miles per hour with a good tail wind. Using updrafts from the leading edge of a wave, Fliir have been known to travel up to a mile and as high as 20 feet. Fliir are able to breathe air while out of the water and can do so for up to an hour. To keep from drying out, fliir secrete mucus from pores under their scales.
While there are many species of fliir, there are two main types.
Freshwater: Freshwater fliir have long, streamlined bodies that taper more near the tail. They are generally on the small side, usually 1-2 feet depending on the size of the body of water they are living in, with fish living in large lakes able to achieve larger sizes, and those in more confining ponds remaining smaller. When their front fins are fully extended, the finspan will equal about 1/3 - 1/2 the length of the body. The lower lobe of the tail fin is larger than the upper lobe.
Saltwater: Saltwater fliir are thick-bodied with blunt snouts. They can grow much larger than their freshwater kin as their growth is not limited by the size of their environment, and continue growing throughout their life, with the oldest saltwater fliir reaching the greatest sizes. The finspan of these fliir equals about 60% - 100% of the body length. Some species will even have additional enlarged pelvic fins to help stabilize the body in the air. These fins, however, are only a fraction of the size of the front fins. The lower lobe of their tails is also larger than the upper lobe.
Fliir coloration varies by water clarity, depth, and bottom composition. In waters that are clear to the bottom or murky, the top of the fish tends to match the coloration whatever is on the bottom. (e.g.) If a fliir lives in a lake and the lake bed is composed of sand, the top of the fliir will be sandy colored as well. If the lake bed is covered in vegetation, the fliir would have a green back instead and be more mottled. In waters that are too deep to see the bottom such as the open ocean, fliir are dark on top. Common colors for deep water fliir are generally dark blues, greys or even blacks. All fliir have a light colored underside. Fliir have also been known to change color during the spawning season (becoming more vibrant), or if their habitat undergoes dramatic changes and they need to acclimate their camouflage colors.
Fliir spawn around the time of the summer solstice. In all species, females that have mated will develop a black band on their abdomen.
Ocean fliir mate in an amazing aerial display that takes place only a few nights a year around the time of the Summer Solstice. During the solstice, males produce a chemical that reacts with their secretions and allows them to bio-luminesce. By changing the amount of the chemical in different portions of their body and using the movement of their body, they can create stunning flashing displays to attract females. These displays occur approximately 20 feet above the surface of the ocean so as to avoid most water-based predators. Shortly after the males fly out of the water, female fliir join them. Once a female fliir spots a male with an attractive pattern, she will circle the male and slow down to almost a hover. The male then approaches from behind and slightly above the female. He will bite down on her dorsal fin. An extra vertebra in their spinal column allows the fish to twist their tails, the male twisting in a downward direction and the female twisting upward. The male fliir has a specially designed anal fin that allows transference of his milt to the female, who also has a special anal fin that assists the milt in entering her reproductive tract. Mating must happen quickly, as the additional weight of the male makes it impossible for the female to stay aloft and the pair ends up falling towards the water. Once done, the fliir will part and regain altitude, either to mate again or to find a different mate. This repeats until both fish are exhausted.
As soon as mating season is over, female ocean fliir will travel towards coastal waters to find areas that have shallow waters with heavy amounts of foliage, roots, rocks or other debris where young fish can hide. The females will then dig shallow underwater nests and deposit their eggs. They will tend to the eggs by fanning water over them with their fins, removing any debris that settles into the nest and defending the nest from would-be predators. After being laid, the eggs take anywhere from a few days to over a week to hatch depending on the amount of time said eggs were developing inside the mother. When the eggs start to hatch, the mother fliir will leave her children in the protective care of the shallow-water nursery and return to the ocean.
Freshwater fliir mate in a similar way to their ocean counterparts, except that their mating takes place under water and the male fliir are not bio-luminescent. Instead, all their fins become bright red to attract a mate. Female freshwater fliir will lay their eggs in a safe place six days after fertilization, and will take care of them for another three days before they hatch. Once the eggs are hatched, she will leave the fry to their own devices.
Fliir are social fish, doing well in schools of 10-25 for freshwater fliir, and saltwater schools reported to have as many as 100 individuals, if not more. School size depends mostly on space, available food, and amount of predators. While in the water, fliir are rather docile and will flee from sudden movements or noises. In the air, they are a bit more brave and have even been seen dive-bombing water fowl resting on the water's surface. During mating season, they can become highly aggressive. Males will attack other males, other fish, and even fishermen. Females with nests have been known to do the same.
All fliir are opportunistic omnivores, eating both plant and animal matter as it is available, though they do tend to prefer a diet rich in protein, focusing on insects, smaller fish, and even their own fry if they happen to stray far enough from cover. Fliir have an extendable jaw which they use to suck up their living prey. If an environment is low in protein resources, a fliir still has the option of eating vegetation such as phytoplankton, or tiny bits of plants that are floating in the water.
Freshwater fliir live in large lakes and slow moving rivers where they can have plenty of room to fly. In crystal clear waters they can be found in areas with lots of shade. When winter comes some species of freshwater fliir will migrate to warmer waters if possible, while others will bury themselves in silt and enter a type of hibernation.
Saltwater fliir are found in the open ocean in all but the coldest areas towards the poles. They are not found in the waters around Siyari and the frozen tundras of Jiskadar and Sundast. Any ocean fliir found in coastal waters are either young fliir or females ready to lay eggs. In the winter, saltwater fliir in colder regions will migrate towards the equator to spend the season in more temperate waters.
Lore & Culture
Some fishing communities believe that storms are caused by a giant fliir flying from the water to the sky, carrying the souls of those who died in or around the water to their final rest. They believe the clouds are her scales, the rain is the water dripping from the scales and the wind is from the flapping of her fins. Lightning is the fliir collecting another soul, and thunder is the sound the souls make as they mourn their death. It is also believed that a particularly bad storm is the fliir crying for the dead.
Fliir are also considered to be good luck. As one of the reasons fliir fly from the water is to escape predators, if one sees fliir flying from the water there is a chance that there are larger, more desirable fish nearby. Fliir are also considered lucky if they land in or near a boat. Landing nearby means big hungry fish might be attracted closer or, if it lands in a boat, it means that even if nothing is caught, there is still something to take home to eat or sell.
Fishing communities do their best avoid catching pregnant female fliir in their nets or on their hooks during the Summer Solstice, and release those that show the black band that indicates they are carrying fertilized eggs. However, females without the black band are kept, as their unfertilized eggs are considered a delicacy.
Fliir fins are also popularly used in jewelry and home decorations.
(Concept by oStrydeo, Written by Trigirl48 03:18, August 29, 2012 (UTC) and Renekai, Storm lore by Raer)