One Fish Two Fish or The Making of the Fish Serial Killer
I seem to collect animals. Even as a small child I was like the pied piper to every hungry cat, scrawny dog and hurt bird in the neighborhood. My parents patiently let me go through my dog stage, my cat stage, my tadpole stage, my gerbil stage and my want to be a vet stage. Since we lived in a big city they were thankfully spared the horse stage and a field trip behind the scenes at the zoo quickly quelled the exotic stage.
It wasn’t until I was an adult with children of my own that I discovered aquariums. It all started with my friend Bev. She had a beautiful aquarium set up in her home. Tropical in nature, the fish lived out their spans until only a lonely gourami remained. She wanted to change to a saltwater setup but couldn’t bear to er…dispose of the poor lonely guy.
Now before I continue my fish tale, a fact or two must be mentioned. I was married at the time with 2 teenage daughters and my 6 year old son. The rule in the house according to my husband was simple: No avians, reptiles or rodents. To keep marital harmony, I agreed. For years, we had a dog and a cat. Nothing else, Nada, Zip, Zilch. Zero. I patiently explained to my son that daddy is afraid of snakes. I convinced my girls that a parrot that talked was a lot of work and that the cat would eat it. I convinced all three that gerbils and hamsters needed a lot of cleaning and care, were smelly and would poop. Life in the menagerie was harmonious- until I discovered fish.
As my friend Bev spent time agonizing over her impending fish execution decision, I decided to clean out my basement. Leftovers from my parents staying with us and years of accumulated odds and ends had finally driven me to distraction. Behind the old boxes of canning jars and the half finished art projects of my mother, I found it. Wheels began to turn in my mind. A gleeful joy rushed over me as I realized that there was a loophole in my husband’s rule and parole for a certain unaware gourami. A ten gallon fish tank complete with a filter.
I carefully brought my new found treasure upstairs. A thorough examination and water test as I cleaned it proved the tank to be sound and watertight. Happily, I pondered the best place to put it in my son’s room, imagining his delight and surprise. My practical side reveled in the fact that fish were easy to care for, no yard or pan cleaning, no vet bills, torn up clothing or furniture. No training, no yelling to get the kids to feed them, water them, walk them, play with them, groom them. It was only a ten gallon tank and one fish, why hadn’t I thought of this sooner? It was an easy solution to my son’s constant badgering to have a pet of his own. Best of all, it was free, I already had everything important, tank, filter, and best of all, the fish.
I called Bev and quickly informed her of my find and my plans. She was relieved to know that she didn’t have to perform the last rites in her bathroom one last time and skeptical of my ability to actually get this idea pulled off. She also knew the rule. The hubby wasn’t due home for several hours. Plenty of time to set up and make the transfer before my son came home or the hubby. Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
All was fine until I got to Bev’s house. She informed me about water temperature and gravel and food. We fixed the water The water problem by putting gourami in a five gallon bucket with water from her tank and instructions to mix it with water from home. A trip to Walmart gets me gravel and food and, upon hearing of my predicament, a bottle of dechlorinator for my tap water from the helpful clerk. In addition I also got fake neon glow in the dark plants, a few decorations I found amusing and an air pump for the decorations. My free fish was not so free after all. Thankfully, or so I thought, the worst was over as far as spending went.
Rushing home with my purchases and a scared fish sloshing around in a bucket in the back of my SUV, I realized I had less than an hour before my son came home from school. Dumping my purchases on the dining room table, I hurried back to my car to get the fish. The poor guy was motionless at the bottom of the bucket. Oh Dear God! I killed the poor thing before I even got home! I held my breath and looked again, then let it all out in a woosh of relief, there was movement!
Carefully, I maneuvered the bucket with fish up the steps, into the house and into my son’s room. I set the fish tank on top of his tall dresser, poured in the gravel, poured in some tap water, stuck the fake plants in, and set up the air pump and decorations in a flurry of splashes and mutterings. I intermittently pour tap water into the 5 gallon bucket to help acclimate the fish to the new water as well. All the while, I keep peering into the fish bucket and pleading with the fish to just hold on a moment longer, it’s almost ready.
Standing on a kitchen chair, up to my elbows in a fish tank, this is how my daughters found me as they walked in the door from school. Luckily, they’ve had years of practice with me, and have learned to take everything they see me do with a positive attitude and without directly laughing at me until afterword. I quickly give them the lowdown on the fish and they are more than ready to help after realizing that I have finally managed to find a way around “The Rule”.
As I am explaining all this, I realize that a full 5 gallon bucket of water is extremely heavy. In fact, there is no way I am going to be able to lift it , stand on the chair and pour it, along with the fish, with anything resembling accuracy into the fish tank I have just set up. My girls, realizing that I have a predicament, come to my rescue, by lifting and guiding the bucket up to me while I am standing on the chair. We start pouring and pouring and pouring and the darn fish actually doesn’t want to come out of the bucket! The tank is now full, the bucket is almost empty and the fish is still in it. My son will be home any minute and I am ready to either begin laughing hysterically or crying. Neither of which is going to solve the dilemma.
Seeing the look on my face, one of the girls grabbed a pitcher from the kitchen and quickly bailed out some of the water from the fish tank and we finally poured poor gourami fish into the tank with a large plop!
I quickly cleaned up all the spilled water, disposed of the detritus of my purchases, rearranged the tank decorations that got knocked around from our efforts and heaved a sigh of relief. The poor fish went into hiding behind the large neon colored fake rock I bought. The girls disappeared upstairs to their rooms hoping, I think, that I was done and would forget they were available to help. My son was due any minute and I was anticipating a happy scene when he saw the new addition to his room.
Stay tuned for the next installment of One Fish, Two Fish
What was my son's reaction?
What will Daddy say?
How much does a free fish cost?
Can you kill a fish in under 1 minute?
How many fish does it take to change a lighbulb?
All these questions and more answered in the next Chapter - coming soon to a hubpage near you!
Read Part 2