After the Fact: Fish sticks


If you have a twin size bed, chances are you have a king size dog, and the reverse is true: a king size bed and a teacup Poodle. But the fact is, none of that makes any difference. Your dog, whatever size, will occupy 85 percent of your bed, whatever size.  If you have more than one dog, you may as well start out on the sofa because you’ll end up there before the alarm goes off.

Cats are much the same, but less subtle. They just start out taking 100 percent of the bed and expect you to turn the electric blanket up to 3 for their sleeping comfort.

The only pet that is more nuisance is a fish, and it doesn’t matter whether you have one or 100. They require daily feeding, but the watering takes more time and energy than you’d put forth to maintain a herd of elephants. Plain tap water is not good enough.  You’ll need to let it “rest” overnight, then add assorted chemicals to accommodate the varieties of fish you might have. Their habitat has to be provided with heat adequate for hatching an albatross egg and furnished with the very latest in coral reef and sunken pirate ships. You’ll also need housekeepers, known otherwise as “snails.”

Last, but most annoying, is the aerator. This little appliance somehow infuses the water with oxygen while insuring you will not sleep through a bubbling noise that is worse than the dog’s snoring. 

I’ve never taken a fish class at TSJC but I’d like an explanation of how a trout can survive winter in the Conejos River when the temperature outside my door is -20 yet our “Beta” froze in a perfectly good aquarium in my living room. Stephanie Long, who comments on my column every now and again, tells me she had an aquarium that froze solid, fish and all, when the power went out at her house one winter. I assume she buried (or flushed) the fish, but wonder if they might not have been saved by adding hot water. On the other hand, who wants to poach guppies?

Zander was in kindergarten when the carnival came to town. He wasn’t old enough to play some of the games, like shooting the ducks, and for others, he wasn’t tall enough, but he managed to neatly throw a ring around some pegs and won A GOLDFISH in a paper cup. We had a larger bowl at home, but it wasn’t what Zan wanted for his new friend so off to the pet store to buy a larger bowl and all the accompanying supplies. By the time we got it set up, it looked like Disney World in miniature.

Two days later, when I got home from my morning classes at the university, I noticed that the fish appeared to be doing a sidestroke. On closer inspection, my sister, the nurse, told me there was no hope, and we gave him a burial at sea. Before Zan got home, I went back to the pet shop and picked out a fish that I thought was identical to the one that had passed. Zander knew immediately that a ringer had been put in the bowl. To console him, we returned that weekend to the pet store and bought two more goldfish friends. 

By now, I was cleaning the bowl every other day and ready to flush all three. The sales person at the pet store and I found what we thought would be a solution: the label on the bottle said, “water clearing”. I didn’t read the small print and put a couple of drops in the bowl. In record time, the water was clearer. And the fish were floating on the top.  Again, a burial at sea. I was beginning to feel like a Viking. On closer inspection, I learned that the “clearing” agent was ONLY to be used in outdoor ponds. 

We ended up buying a small aquarium with all accoutrements and ONE Beta that Zan was assured did NOT need a friend. And then there were the “Mystery” snails, but that’s another chapter in our watery adventures.

The whole first episode cost more than the entire stock of goldfish in the booth at the fair. I made sure we were out of town when the fair came around the next year, and several years thereafter.

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