Only Goldfish- The Conclusion of Fish Serial Killer (Part 4)
This time however, I tried a new store, specifically and only for fish. Upon entering the store, I realized that I had finally found the right place to go to for help. Clean, bright, and tanks set up everywhere, freshwater, saltwater, corals reefs, even brackish. I explained to the salesperson my entire tale of woe, heartache and misery. Before, he would sell me anything, I was sent home to bring in a water sample from my tap.
Coming back with my Ziploc bag of tap water in hand, I was inducted into the new fish owner’s boot camp. I was shown exactly what kind of water I had, how exactly to balance the Ph, what chemicals to use and when, to get the tank to set up the ammonia to nitrate cycle correctly and was told not to buy any fish except the gold fish I would buy today until the water was tested again and pronounced conditioned.
I left the store feeling a whole lot smarter than I went in. I finally realized exactly how ignorant I had been over the aquarium episode. Armed with the correct chemicals, procedures and a copy of Aquariums for Dummies, I was ready to try again. My other treasures included a couple of bags of inert gravel and most importantly, 5 more goldfish. Hopefully fishes ten to fifteen were not relatives of five through nine.
Armed with a newfound feeling of accomplishment, I got myself home and once again determinedly set up the tank. Following instructions to the letter, everything seemed to be going well for the next couple of days. I tested Ph and ammonia religiously and hovered over the tank as if I a nurse in ICU. The tank again started to cloud up with ammonia, and I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong.
While the cloudiness wasn’t nearly a pronounced this time, I could see the fish beginning to droop toward the bottom of the tank. A run to the new pet store with a water sample showed that everything was indeed proceeding on schedule and I was reminded that this was the purpose for the fish and to expect some casualties. I was to come back and get replacements if I lost more than two.
Sure enough, I lost ten and eleven that night and twelve the next afternoon. I couldn’t bear to look the kids in the eye as I hurriedly flushed them to their final resting place. Another bag of water and a trip to the store was performed. I swear the all fish huddled in the corners of their tanks, hid behind plants or under decorations as I walked in.
I walked out with 4 more candidates for my growing reputation as a Serial Fish Killer to feast upon. It did not improve my mood to find out that my daughters were running a betting pool with their dad as to how long the fish would actually live.
The fates of sixteen thru nineteen were slightly kinder than the previous tenants of my aquarium of horror. In the next two weeks as the water slowly cleared and the chemical levels balanced, we lost all but eighteen and nineteen. The rest of the family, wisely sensing my sincere distress over thirteen thru seventeen, kept their jokes and wisecracks to themselves or out of earshot.
Meanwhile, I read and re-read my Aquariums for Dummies handbook, taking notes as to what species went with what, temperatures, Ph balances and other fish compatibility information was organized and stored in my brain in anticipation of getting tropical fish again.
That next Saturday, I gathered up the kids, my well used Dummies book and we headed off to the pet store for the final water test and hopefully, the okay to put in tropicals. The water test came back with flying colors, no more ammonia, and the nitrites and nitrates and bacteria were all where they were supposed to be. The smiles broke out and each child starting pointing out which type of fish they wanted to see go into the tank.
I had only question before I would let anyone pick. The Dummies book gave lots of examples what kinds would match temperature and Ph wise, but I noticed that it never said what goldfish would match with. Knowing how hard I had worked on this ten gallon tank, the sales person looked at me cautiously. Did I still have any left?
I proudly told him of the fate of 18 and 19. He shook his head at me and gently told me that if I wanted to put in tropicals, I would have to euthanize the two survivors. He went on to explain that goldfish are only compatible with other goldfish types. At that point the kids realized something else may be going wrong and the looks on their faces almost broke my heart.
I called a family conference and explained what I would have to do if they wanted to upgrade to tropical fish. I didn’t even have to take a vote. We came home with 20 & 21. The murderous reign of the Serial Fish Killer was put to an end.
A month later, we got a great deal on a 75 gallon aquarium from my oldest daughter’s boyfriend. He wanted cash more than he wanted fish. Having learned my lesson, I cycled the tank using water from the ten gallon aquarium in less than two weeks and we moved the number fish, as we called them, into their new home. I thought that in a few years as they died off and my children grew a little older, we’d have a pretty good time fixing it up as a tropical fish aquarium.
I found the courage to buy a book specifically on goldfish to read up on them. I learned that I had made yet another mistake or two. First, Goldfish can live up to 15 years in a tank, provided with the right conditions and diet. Second, they will grow to match the size of the tank. 15 years?!?!!? And just how big are these going to get?!?!?! Well, it’s almost seven years later and each of the four fish is between four and six inches long nose to tail fin. They are now known as “The Fish Who Will Not Die”.
They have survived the following: Divorce and one move between houses, 4 moves between bedrooms, and 6 days without heat or power during an ice storm which my guppies did not. I have taken this as a sign that goldfish are to be my limit and have quit wishing for a tropical tank. They have also survived the various toys and metallic objects that my 3 ½ year old daughter has been known to deposit in there when we are not looking.
When the time comes and the last fish is buried – no flushing allowed at that size!- I will call all the kids wherever they may be as adults and let them know of the passing. We’ll once again relive the Fish Serial Killer Saga and they will in turn pass it on to their own children. Someday, I shall be known as the Fish Killer Gramma.
Then, I’m getting what I always wanted, a boa constrictor or a water dragon. They should be a piece of cake after the goldfish right? Right?....? Guys?........ Oh C’mon! I didn’t kill that many! Please?
The End! Really!
Thanks to everyone who followed through to the end- there was a lot more here than I thought as I started it!
As for my friend, Bev, who's gourami started all of this - well, God works in mysterious ways. She was given an oscar, a solitary piranha-type fish, and had her own problems in getting rid of it! No fish store would buy it from her and anyone smart enough about tanks wouldn't take it. She finally gave it to someone else who actually wanted one.
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