Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Age of Aquariums

I can't say exactly where I read it but, someone once said that looking at fish in an aquarium can be a calming and relaxing pass time for most people. Feng shui also has positive things to say on the subject of having fish in your home. Although I've never put much stock in the theory of controlling chi, fish do seem to add something to a room's ambiance.

If these weren't reasons enough to have fish as pets, I should point out that fish neither bite nor bark. They do not scratch furniture, shed fur and as I far as I know, none have ever urinated on a laundry basket of clean clothes -still warm from the dryer- the way my sister's cat, Gus, has been known to do.

My first attempt at keeping fish was in the early 90's. I bought a 10 gallon tank and the small inexpensive critters I had seemed to do well. That is, at least until I moved in with Lucifer's younger sister. I hadn't been with her long when, one day while I was at work, she disposed of not only the fish but the aquarium as well. She did this without consulting me first. A wiser man than I would have taken this as an ill omen but, it would be a number of years before we went our separate ways.

It was not until 2001, after my first visit to Dumaguete and Siquijor, that I felt good enough about my surroundings to try once again to keep fish. Again, I bought a 10 gallon tank and a few cheap fish. These new fish seemed to be doing OK too, until I made my second trip to Dumaguete. A co-worker of mine volunteered to come over regularly during my absence to feed the fish.

Upon returning home, I found that a few of the fish had died -some had not been removed from the tank- I believe that the cause of death was over feeding (of course, no autopsy was performed so I can only guess). It was merely a matter of a few weeks before all the fish in the aquarium had left this veil of tears. The ecology of the aquarium had never gotten back to normal after my trip to Philippines and the death of those first fish. I kept the tank, though I knew I wouldn't be buying fish until my travels to Philippines were finished.

The tank remained empty until my wife finally moved here from Sibulan. Wanting to reestablish the tank, I bought 10 of the cheapest fish that Walmart sells. Nine died within a few days.
A week or so later, I bought 10 more of the cheap fish to go with the sole survivor of the first batch. I was told-by not a few people-that upon leaving Walmart, I should hold the plastic bag of live fish above my head. They said the scanning device that you walk thru leaving the store would somehow, damage the fishes' internal organs. I found this a bit hard to swallow but gave it a shot never-the -less.

These 10 fish soon joined there brethren in fish heaven. The only one to make it was the sole survivor from before. He was easy enough to identify by his size. Having made it thru two aquatic holocausts he became known to us as "Mr.Indestructible". Thinking that perhaps I'd been buying diseased fish, I went to an actual pet store and purchased 2 fish that were a little more expensive. All was well until my wife and I went on a mini vacation to visit friends in South Carolina. I saw little point in asking my co-worker to take care of the fish so I left them to their own devices while we went away for the week.

Opening the door upon our return, I was nearly knocked down by the smell. I immediately changed the filter and half the water and found 2 of the 3 fish were still living. I could see portions of fish skeleton laying on the bottom gravels. The two pet store fish had eaten Mr. Indestructible. These two managed to live together for about 6 months before one died.

For a month or so the last fish lived alone in the 10 gallon tank. My wife suggested that we put this one in the small fish bowl. I agreed. This last fish came to be called "Dorothy" after Elmo's goldfish in Sesame Street. My wife cleaned the aquarium and we placed Dorothy's fish bowl in the bathroom with the houseplants. I see now that it was appropriate that Dorothy be moved into the bathroom. She would not have far to go when the time came to flush her poor dead fish carcass down the toilet two days after the move.

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