Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Fish Business
Jennifer Flaten

I am a sucker for animals, which is evident by my menagerie. I have a dog, three cats and one lonely little fish. The lonely little fish is what is left of the batch of starter fish for our 36-gallon aquarium.

As it turns out, it is about 35 more gallons then we need. Whoever said that fish are relaxing never tried to set up an aquarium in our house? I admit I didn’t give much thought to the actual mechanics of an aquarium set up.

I wanted fish. I knew they went in a tank. I figured, how hard could it be, you put in the water, you put in the fish and voila, you have an aquarium--right? Wrong.

Although I wanted fish, I didn’t want a hobby, but having an aquarium is dangerously close to a hobby. It requires dedication and vigilance. Dedicated and vigilant are two words not normally associated with me.

The tank is something you need to constantly monitor and adjust. You have to add this and buy that. Okay, most of my buys consisted of replacement fish, but those little fish add up.

It didn’t help that the kids were more concerned about how the tank looked versus whether the fish could actually live in the tank. The kids wanted the fish to have a snazzy crib. We got rocks, several different styles to make everyone happy, and we got cute little plants color coordinated to the rocks, of course. 

Next, the kids picked “cute” fish, who care if the fish were man-eaters? They matched the décor! We toted bags of fish home; the cats thanked us politely for the take out sushi.

Much to the eternal disappointment of the cats, we plopped the fish in the tank. Then we sat back to enjoy our fish. Our enjoyment lasted until the next morning, when we found our first casualty.

Unfortunately, what we really needed, but didn’t have, was good water. We since discovered our water is very unfriendly to fish. Water is akin to oxygen.

We have hard water, very hard water. Our water is so hard that the fish need to wear scuba gear to survive in our tank. Our water is so hard and mineral laced that I now understand why I set off metal detectors everywhere I go.

I am also concerned that at some point, we may start glowing in the dark, but that is beside the point. No amount of tinkering and additives make it possible to sustain a batch of fish, trust me we’ve tried.

We added every type of additive known to man and fish. We searched the web. We read books. We even have the fish shop on speed dial.

It’s not helping, I am well on my way to becoming a fish serial killer. The first couple of fish I felt bad, by the twentieth fish, it was routine. My calendar read, drop kids off at school, scoop dead fish out of tank, buy replacement fish.

With our first batch of fish, the kids excitedly named each fish, by the fourth batch the kids were putting money on which fish would go pass first. Now we are down to one little fish, we keep waiting for the day we find him floating, but something tells me he will outlast us all.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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