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Fed Fish Dead Fish - Fish Serial Killer Part 2
We last left our...um...heroine? waiting for her son to get home to see the new fish tank and nervously awaiting the reaction of her husband due to "The Rule". NO Reptiles, NO Rodents & NO Avians.
For those who missed it: Part 1
Let's get back to the story shall we?
I sat at the dining room table catching my breath, literally and figuratively. Through the window I see my son get off the bus and come down the drive. I can barely contain myself as he comes through the door, dropping his bookbag on the couch and heading for the kitchen. I stop him and remind him that bookbags belong in bedrooms not my couch. Grumbling, he grabs the bag and heads to his room, I follow behind him, waiting for his reaction. There is none.
Concerned, I ask him what he thinks of his new pet. He gives me a reproachful look and tells me that fish are not fun enough – you can’t take them out to play with them like you can cats and dogs. Using all my motherly logic and guile, I explain all the benefits of having a fish for a pet. Trying to appeal to his 6 year old sense of pride, I told him things like his sisters couldn’t take them away; he only had to feed them once a day. I said he didn’t have to clean up after them. No reaction, just the continued reproachful look.
Then I mentioned that fish have way neater toys than cats and dogs do. Finally! A glimmer of interest! I showed him the air pump and explained that they have really cool toys that you could attach to it and put in the tank. A careful examination of the tank followed. It was obvious that his 6 year old brain was working overtime. He declared that having a fish was a cool deal, BUT, the treasure chest currently attached to the air pump was lame. I quickly agreed to a future trip to the pet store to find something more suitable to his taste, mentally cringing at what might await the poor fish. Little did I know…
Okay, now there’s only one more hurdle to pass…Dad. My son is in his room, dreaming of possible additions to his newly acquired treasure, the girls are still hiding out in their rooms, and I retire to the kitchen to make supper. A nice supper, an appeasing supper, isn’t the way to a man’s heart through his stomach? Mentally rehearsing my excuses, I keep myself busy until I hear the truck in the drive.
The front door opens as usual and my son pops out from his room like a little evil genie before I can get there. Babbling a mile a minute, he drags Dad into his room to show off the fish and to reiterate my promise of a shopping trip. I figure the best defense is to hide back in the kitchen and finish getting supper together. I nervously await my fate.
As my husband comes in the kitchen and grabs a cold beer, I sneak a quick peek at him. No steam coming out of the ears is a good sign. I venture another look…oops! He’s looking right back at me. A fish? Doing my best Lucille Ball “Weeeelllll”. I reminded him of “The Rule” and said that fish were not under any of those categories-they were aquatic. Besides that I said, a ten gallon tank wasn’t that big of a deal and it’s just one fish. I went on to explain about saving Gourami from the flush of death and finding the fish tank in the basement. I carefully excluded the extent of my spending so far on the “free fish”.
By the time the second beer was open and drunk, I knew I was in the clear. The possible cold front with accompanying blizzard warnings was cancelled. Sunny skies were here again. He agreed that the fish was not a big deal and it would keep our son from bugging us for another dog. He also laughingly agreed that I had finally managed to find a way around “The Rule”. He was still skeptical about the free part of the fish. He predicted that free wasn’t going to stay free very long. I kept my mouth shut and hoped God wasn’t listening at that particular moment.
When the weekend came, the big item on my agenda was to take my son to the pet store. After doing a little research on the internet, I picked a store that specialized in fish and birds. I was getting a little nervous, as my research included finding out I had some rather large gaps of knowledge about tropical fish and fish tanks. So, no large chain store for me, I wanted an expert I could trust.
The store was long and narrow, humid and noisy. It also seemed to have everything and anything for a bird or a fish that a human would want or need. The nice saleswoman behind the front counter oozed grandmotherly concern over the feelings of inadequacy I was having. I sent my son to the fish decoration section and continued to pour out my story to the nice lady.
She introduced me to Ph testers, chlorine testers, a tank heater, a thermometer, and… bottled bacteria? Bacteria were supposed to help my tank get to the proper environment quicker so that I didn’t have a problem with ammonia build-up and other things detrimental to my fish. Ammonia? In water? I was floundering in all the rapid fire knowledge being thrown at me but I nodded in what I hoped were all the right places.
Meanwhile, in the decoration aisle, my son was busily figuring out ways to ensure that I maxed out my credit card in one trip. After paring down the items to what would actually fit into a ten gallon tank, he decided on an aerated flying saucer that would go from the bottom of the tank to the top on a regular basis. Of course, we also had to get the glow in the dark, neon colored, fake plants and a few other items to make the décor match. The last item was a tank lid with a light. Necessary since it was easier to keep the tank at the right temperature.
Cha-ching! This fish was really beginning to cost! We got home with our purchases. I was hoping to quietly bring the bags in the house without anyone noticing. No such luck, my teenage daughters can sense a shopping expedition a mile away and insisted on going through everything I bought. This attention attracted my husband who just looked at me with an evil grin – not so free after all, huh? I resolutely vowed to myself that there would be no more fish spending except for food.
Between the original trip to Walmart and the trip to the pet store, I had spent almost $100. Free fish – NOT!!! I made a mental note to have a little word with my friend Bev. With friends like this, who needs enemies??
Over the next several days, we spent time getting all the decorations just so. The bane of my existence became that evil flying saucer. It was constantly getting hung up in the fake plants and turning turtle which caused a bubble storm. After a couple of weeks, I quietly retired it back into its box. My son had, of course, grown tired of it after realizing that it was more of a pain than fun.
The next week or two brought home a few friends for the Gourami. I learned that tropical fish are school fish and need to have others compatible with them around. So we were now up to 4 fish in the tank and everything seemed to be going swimmingly. I was feeling pretty proud of pulling off getting the fish set up and happily swimming around without killing them.
I then discovered that I could use the tank lid as a handy nightlight to check on him and it really did soothe me at the end of a long day. The light frequently did not get turned off at night, but it couldn’t do any harm, could it?
About six weeks after Gourami came; I looked at the tank once so pristine and realized that I might have a problem. Almost overnight, or so it seemed, algae had bloomed, blossomed and exploded in the tank. Everything from the gravel to the decorations to the wall had a covering of green slimy algae. Clearly something had to be done and quickly. I got on the internet and started researching algae.
My research quickly showed me the cause- too much light. Leaving the tank light on all night and being in a very sunny room was giving the algae a perfect breeding ground. So I looked at all the sites and recommendations and back to the pet store I went, this time for algae killer. I got home, read the directions, poured in the chemicals and waited…and waited…and waited some more. By this time, I could swear the poor fish were getting a haunted look around their eyes, visions of the last flush dancing through their heads.
In desperation, I decided that the only solution left to me, according to all I had read, was to empty the tank and clean everything thoroughly. At that point, I also realized that I didn’t have the necessary tools to do the job right. Another trip to the store and I was the owner of a fish net, a siphon, and a bottle of something that claimed it would take all the algae off of the decorations without harming the aquatic pets.
Getting home, I set to work. Standing on a chair, I cursed myself for ever putting that tank on top of a tall chest of drawers, as I wrestled the siphon tube between the tank and the bucket on the floor. I cleared out all the decorations and put them in the sink spraying them liberally with the cleaner. The fish themselves I managed to net and get into another bucket where they huddled together in misery at their abrupt change of home.
I scrubbed everything in that tank. I even took out all the gravel and rinsed it out in the tub by the strainerful. I wanted to get out every bit of algae I possibly could. I then put the gravel back in, refilled the tank, added dechlorinator and algae killer and got the fish back in. They were still a little dazed from their transfer but swimming around. Wearily, I turned my attention to the decorations.
I began scrubbing the decorations and discovered what a time consuming job it was. Every little leaf, every strand of fake grass had to be wiped off individually. Then I got to the fake plastic reef and when scrubbing it, realized that some of the paint was coming off as well. Sighing, I decided that it was still serviceable and put it and all the plants, back into the tank. All seemed to be fine at the time, but unbeknownst to me, I had begun my career as a Fish Serial Killer.
Stay Tuned! In Part 3...
The Body Count Begins....
Rainbow Water and What it Does
Gravel on Sale - Kill or Cure?
Ammonia - Do Fish really Pee?
Still working on the lighbulb!!!!!
For those who missed it: Part 1