ORIGINALLY POSTED Saturday, July 30th
When I was nine, I spent a weekend with one of my aunts. She lived in a small, but clean apartment. Two bedrooms, dining room in the kitchen, and a small living room. Everything was white – the walls, the carpet; even the shelves, stuffed full of pristine Precious Moments ceramics and Seraphin Classic Angels, were made of clear glass, stained white from the paint chips in the background.
My aunt lived alone. She was divorced, and her two kids were fully grown. She collected Beanie Babies – at least thirty sat on the spare bed. We had to move them out of the way so I had a place to stay.
What really stands out in my memory about that weekend was not the white walls, the ceramic statues, or even the Beanie Babies. It wasn’t the breakfasts we had, or our trip on the eerie canal barge. It was her aquarium.
My aunt had an aquarium full of angelfish. I’d seen pet fish before – one of my uncles had an aquarium ten times the size of this one, and with a larger variety. But for some reason I left my aunt’s that Sunday convinced that having fish like that – elegant and sweet (after all, they were called angelfish, that had to mean something) – was a sign of being an adult.
Keep in mind that I was nine and I found logic in things that wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to normal people (OK, I still make logic out of things that are absolutely illogical). Still, the need to have my own aquarium full of angelfish stuck.
I’ve been talking about getting a fish or two for about a month now. I’ve been a Stay at Home Daughter (SHD, but not to be confused with Stay At Home Dad) since May. I may not have my own place, or even a job (updating Tumblr accounts and writing unpaid articles for online magazines don’t really count), but I figured it was time to get my fish. Perhaps it’s a responsibility thing – I can’t exactly forget to feed the cat because he never lets me forget that it’s dinner. If I haven’t changed his litter box, he pees on my bed (needless to say, his litter box has been changed every day). With fish – it’s all about taking care of them.
Would I have eventually gone through with it? Who knows? But my options were pretty much eliminated Thursday when I came home and my brother, Kyle, had bought me a ten gallon aquarium.
So Kyle, a friend of mine and I piled into the jeep and headed to the pet store to pick out some fish for our tank. We bought one angelfish (I was insistent) named Toby, one cherry barb (Bosco), one red-tailed black variatus (Bingo), and a red-belly x-ray tetra (X-ray, of course). We picked up food, a filter, and a heater (they’re all tropical).
It’s Saturday, and only Toby, is left. What have I learned from this experience?
- If I hang onto the dream of having an aquarium full of angelfish for fourteen years, and when I finally get an aquarium with full of fish other than angelfish, and every one dies save for the lone angelfish, then maybe it’s a good idea to only buy angelfish
- I’m not good at keeping small pets alive
- Filters are dangerous
- Fish are stupid
But more importantly, my uncle with the large aquarium gave me a few pointers. For starters, the filter should be covered with a breathable cloth, so the fish don’t get suction cupped into it. Also, after cleaning the aquarium it’s important to add water conditioner.
Finally, he reminded me that bubbles are an excellent source of oxygen for fish, and necessary. The way I figure, if Toby can make it through the next week after following my uncle’s advice, I’ll consider getting more fish.