Friday, September 11, 2009

RIP Small Fry

My children became so desperate for a pet, any kind of pet, that they started naming the ants in the driveway. They created habitats for them, named them, and brought them indoors. Then, somehow the ants left their tiny little habitats and wandered into my bathtub. It ended poorly which is foreshadowing that I did not pay attention to.

I have always been a cat person. Cats remind me of English royalty who have descended into your home to mingle with the common folk. They don’t need much and don’t care for it when you need something from them. This seems like a suitable arrangement. Also, when cats get out of control or you move across the country, you can leave them with your cat-loving mom. I had a dog as a child but sadly, he bit a neighbor’s ear and it ended poorly.

So we have been pondering what kind of pet to get our kids. Luke wanted a turtle but one hears the turtle poop horror stories and apparently they live to be 75. I had visions of me and the turtle in our dotage, both with poop issues.

That leaves the noble fish and by process of elimination, this is the pet we chose. One week-end we bought the aquarium, the aquarium stand, the gravel, the nets, the “Everything I need to know about tropical fish” book, the chemicals for the water, the filter, the heater, and of course the plastic plants that look like corral reefs (sorta). My husband the engineer took the lead role in setting up the aquarium and learning the various perimeters of ph balance, ammonia levels in the water, and the fluid dynamic joy of the filtering system. My particular skills were not called into service...yet.

Scott and the kids took a field trip to the local pet store and picked out hardy "test pilot" fish. Every fish was paired up, except for one. The Dusty Mollie. I worried about her from the beginning. As the other fish settled into the tank, she swam up and down the sides, nervously. I consulted my fish-loving friends, none of whom had ever heard of a gold Mollie. There was growing concern that she was, in fact, a goldfish whose urine would kill the other fish. I began to suspect that the road to becoming an Aquarist would be littered with tiny, little fish corpses.

This morning, Emma went to the tank to say good morning. There, quivering in the corner, was the smallest little fish any of us had every seen. The Dusty Mollie was not nervous, she was pregnant. Hovering around the tiny fish were all the predator fish, including the mother. Another small fry was trying to hide in the fake corral reef. It all seemed so tragic. I yelled for Scott to save them. Emma pointed out that they were being eaten and Luke, well, Luke still can't talk about it. Scott shrugged and said "Nature."

Snape (Betta fish) was the lead assassin but the Mollie was involved. It all ended poorly. Live breeders often continue to give birth for up to two weeks. We all have a chance at redemption.

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