Sunday, January 28, 2007

something smells fishy

Several weeks ago Mr. Fab was talking about fish tanks over at Pointless Directives and it got me thinking about the fish I've had in my life. I've never owned a nice tank—the kind that require filters and pirate ships with little hiding places. The fanciest tank I've owned had blue stones at the bottom and probably cost a whopping $5.99. I think the really nice tanks are beautiful and would love to have one in my house full of tropical fish. However, large lovely tanks require one thing that I don't possess—the desire or the patience to clean it. That, along with the initial set-up costs are why I've only owned the following fish throughout my life.

Your typical kid pet. Always acquired at the local county fair by throwing ping-pong balls at the little round bowls full of colored water and half dead fish. What a crappy existence. And probably a huge money maker for the carnies. Think about it—You pay a buck for a few ping-pong balls and a chance to take home a fish that probably cost a nickel or less for the carnie to buy. That's all you would get too. One fish in a plastic bag with some water and an air pocket. No bowl. No food. And probably no chance that it will live more than a couple of weeks if you were lucky. Now your parents are stuck going out to the pet store and buying all the crap that you need to sustain your little fish. Next thing you know, you've got an almost full container of food and an empty bowl sitting underneath your kitchen sink. Now you're sad because your little fish that you took time to name (mine was Amelia Bedelia) has gone down the toilet to the proverbial big fish bowl. This unfortunate chain of events will likely force your parents back to the pet store to buy another goldfish for you. Which you will bring home and once again name (now it's Amelia Bedelia II). And so the cycle continues until that first small container of fish food is gone—or you get a puppy.

I never really wanted guppies as a pet—they seem more like something you would bait a hook with to catch other fish I like to call dinner. But, at some point in my mid-twenties I ended up with a horde of guppies that required my attention. It happened through a conversation at work. The 11 year old son of a woman I worked with everyday for eight hours came home from a school field trip one day with a cup full of guppies. Martha had no idea what she was going to do with a bunch of little fish so I told her I'd take a few. Little did I know I'd soon regret this decision. They were so tiny and cute at first that failed to realize what would soon transpire. A few of the initial fish decided it would be fun to reenact scenes from Flowers in the Attic and next thing I know I had sick incest produced frys (guppy offspring). But the babies were extra tiny and even cuter than the initial fish and I was able to look past their foul ascent into this world. Momma fish must have realized the threat these tiny fish posed to her future because instead of caring for them, she would eat them like some crazed cannibal. Not only was it becoming a case of only the strong survive, but now the Poppa fish was getting all hopped up on testosterone and screwing every female fish in sight—even if they were his daughters. This just grossed me out. I moved the alpha male into a separate bowl and put it next to the small tank with all the other guppies. This really pissed him off. He would swim really close to the side of the bowl nearest the tank and would slash his tail all around. I was so disgusted by him that I would taunt him with things like, "You dirty little bastard. You deserve this, you pervert." Very mature for a 20-something to be taunting a small fish, but somehow it made me feel better. Once they died, there was no replacing them.

I haven't had a fish for a pet since.

The closest thing to a fish tank I can see myself owning anytime soon is one of these really cool Ecospheres from Brookstone. No fuss, no food, no cleaning. Sounds like my kind of tank.


DutchBitch said...

OMG! Don't start talkin' about fish dying... I still have 2 out of 4 left and after the guinea pig dying a week ago, I don't think I could stand another pet burial...

Jen said...

Awwww...Amelia Bedelia!

Betas are better. Pretty. No need for circulation or pumps. One container of food lasts forever. Very low maintenance. Too much maintenance can kill them. Friendly. They let you know when it's time to feed them.

Just don't get any females- every single one I ever tried to keep jumped out of her bowl and committed fishicide.

My grandpa had gold fish once. I decided they needed names. I named them "Frank" and "Joe" -after the Hardy Boys. I don't think I ever saw him laugh more than he did that day. I swear there were tears...

Mr. Fabulous said...

I will probably never have fish...that saddens me.

Huh. I'm over it.

Hurray for ADD!

Lynda said...

I played the fish ping pong ball game when I was in Catholic school. The first year, I won a goldfish. The second year, I one a sick goldfish.

Killed off the whole tank.

Nobody said...

I've had fish almost continuously since I was 7 years old, except for a four year span where Mrs Nobody convinced me that we couldn't have the tank in the living room.

Cleaning the tank sucks, but it doesn't really take that long most of the time. I invested in a "Python clean and fill no spill" system and that makes it easy. I rarely break the entire setup down for a full cleaning, it just isn't necessary most of the time.

We have a lot of algae, I never had that problem until we moved to East Undershirt so it must me something in the water. I finally found some fish a couple weeks ago that help clean that up.

Those Ecosphere things look awesome, but they are a bit spendy for me.

Naynayfazz said...

I like to look at fish tanks but wouldn't have one either. They are too time consuming like you said. I would rather have something cute and furry as a pet... and by golly I have two of them! :)

Ms. Armsweat said...

YOur fish history is pretty similar to mine. Won one at the fair, and that led to an entire aquarium full of angelfish, zebrafish and platypusfish, I guess, until the day one of them hopped out and died on the carpet and I stepped on its gross, dead body. THAT WAS IT. No more fish. And hello lifelong phobia of being near fish. I can't even walk past the little jars in WalMart with the...betas? them; and that's the aisle where the dog food is, too! I need to go down there and get some Ol' Roy, but Ol' SlimyFinnedBastard is in the way. Bummer.

blakbyrd797 said...

Ditto what nobody said. I've had tanks my whole life. They can be a lot of work and costly to set up initially, but after that, the daily and weekly maintenance is minimal. It takes me maybe 30 minutes every weekend to do a quick gravel vac and water change on the 55 and 20 gallons (and I don't even have a python, I'm doing it the old fashioned way with a siphon and buckets), and I only do more maybe 4 times a year. You just don't need to mess with the filters and stuff that often. So unless you get the urge to rearrange the tank every week, there's not much to it, other than dedication to keeping up with the weekly (or larger bi-weekly) water changes.