Thinking about entering the marketplace? You'd better decide which creature you want to be.
A catalog of the creatures that inhabit the depths of public currency trading oceans
A whale is any trader whose size is big enough to noticeably move the surface of the ocean. In other words, whales can move the price substantially. These mammoths are also called market makers. Whales often have predictable habits and in good conditions can grow very quickly feeding on small surface krill and plankton moving the price cyclically. All the creatures of the ocean study and fear the whales, and none moreso than the other whales. A chance encounter with a larger whale can could cause considerable loss. Some people don't understand these creatures and refer to their habits as “market manipulation”. In fact these creatures are playing by the rules of the exchange just any other creatures do and can play an essential role in a healthy marketplace.
Plankton are small traders who need to change coin to meet obligations. These are the “real users” and in a healthy ecosystem will make up the bulk of the metabolism. They buy and sell at the prices set by larger players. Without plankton the whole food chain falls apart as the whales can only eat each other. Sometimes plankton come and go rapidly, or in pulses as once a day some companies need to settle one asset for another or vice versa.
Sometimes a drunken whale will rip through the marketplace and leave a fair amount of carnage. A well positioned bottom feeder can make a healthy living off the scraps. There are a range of bottom feeders from rapid small active movers to giant sleepers who rarely trade. The game can be rather simple, to place orders on both sides of the price hoping to catch a lucky break when some whale really bounces the price in one way or the other. Active bottom feeders move in very quickly looking for smaller but more regular scraps and fight amongst themselves for position. Because of their quick movements these traders are often called “bots”. There are usually several older and much slower bottom feeders near the very edges of the market, waiting for the impossible with a bid for 100 BTC at 0.01 USD each. What they fear: Large and semi-permenent price changes. Low volatility.
A few famous bottom feeders:
The 102 guy (last seen buying btc in early 2014); the 1 yuan guy (last seen buying LTC for 1RMB on OKCoin; the guy who bought goxcoin for 1 cent in 2011.
Ramora and Pilot Whales
As the creatures of the ocean attempt to survive and grow, they all need to be aware of the whales. In this sense, all creatures are pilot whales. However some are much more adept at clinging to the behemoths than others. Some watch the surface carefully and at any signs of a whale jump to action. In fact there are so many of these creatures that in the passage of a whale it is not unusual to see 2 or 3 times the mass of the whale pass by in ramora slop. Of course not every one of these fish can predict exactly the whale's motion so there is always an overshoot. These things perish like lemmings overshooting the market quite regularly. Sometimes skillful whales will round up some of their hangers-on with a trap and devour them heartily.
These traders leap from exchange to exchange quite nimbly to nab buildup of plankton at one or the other of any worldwide exchanges. Usually they are quick and effective but sometimes don't think very clearly and leap right onto a boat. Whales can fool these creatures by making them think there is an opportunity across exchanges when really it is just Jaws about to eat them. What's a pirate's favorite way to trade? Arrrrrrbitrage!
The creatures described thus far play by the rules of the deep. Once in while a sea monster will emerge that breaks everything. By hacking into the exchange for example, or by operating it, one can play games too appauling to consider. These are the sea monsters that all traders fear.