Monday, July 24, 2006

and on it swoops until... *flush*

Sigh. Another day in the life...

This morning, after accepting that no, I won't garden in the rain and no, there is no real joy to be found in being thoroughly wet and muddy (there is, but not today), I packed up the Eldest and we zipped off to buy a new pet. Pair of pets, actually. Our dear Dr. Watson, now safely housed in a home that will feed him all the grains and nuts he wants, has left a hole in our family room, and we were out to fill it. With a goldfish.

Classic childhood pet, the goldfish - or so I'd thought. Simple, pretty, kid-friendly. But don't be fooled: apparently, those sweet little bowls get filthy fast, and the water needs to be changed every couple of days. Who can be bothered? And the fish grow - to the point where you need something like 5 gallons, long-term, per fish. Admitting to the man in the pet store that, no, I couldn't commit to changing the water more than once a week or two, I bowed my head and meekly bought the larger tank. I then politely waved aside his concerns about 'establishing' the tank (i.e., letting the water develop the appropriate bacteria) before plopping the fish in. 'They'll get stressed,' he warned. I, the queen of stress, smiled and expressed my willingness to take the risk.

Pause to speculate: for whom is this fish, really? For whom was the bird? Oh, yes, the boys loved the birds, but I am suspicious as to whether we bought the bird so that I could care for a simple creature, easily sustained and loved. Ooops. If so, then that would make these fish my attempt to redeem myself, in a potentially expensive cycle. Oh, risky. And yet, onwards I go, feeling almost driven. Time for a line in the sand, perhaps? What - here?

Psychobabble over, we now return you to the original post:

A pair of hours later, the tank was full of carefully treated water, and the filter humming away. The FIL and I had worked carefully, and the result looked, well, like a great big box of water. We dumped the fish in (Speckle and Katie) and watched them swim. So far, so good. And off we went: the FIL to collect lunch and a nap, the Eldest to get himself embroiled in some adult politics and the Mama to get equally tangled while finding she'd been offered a job. (A job! But more on that later.) It was emotional rollercoasterism in minature, but now a fish has been flushed.

Poor Katie. First she swam, then she listed to one side, and finally floated, still in the water. Perhaps stress really can kill. And how do I tell the already emotionally battered child, come morning?

Carefully, I suppose. And onwards we go...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I too went shopping for a goldfish. Betta fish are easy, small tank, look pretty and you just need to keep them warm. They also like live pond water :-)

Good luck, I love your blog.
nk

Daniel H said...

If Speckle lives, I think the store should replace Katie free.
- the FIL

dykewife said...

new tanks are notorious for kacking off fish by the bucket load. there's really not a whole lot you can do. the important thing is to make sure that the nitrate/nitrite levels are kept as low as you can. they're both nasty killers of fish. you can get tetsing kits at the pet store. it is important to have fish and plants in your tank. without them, the bacteria won't grow and nitrate/nitrite levels will take a lot longer to set.

as it is, you're in for about 2 weeks for the tank get that nice bacterial balance. Once you have that you're set, and then it's change 1/4-1/3 of the tank about once a week or so. oh, and when you clean the filter, use the water that you syphon out. taht way you do minimal disruption to the bacteria that are living in the filter medium. :) good luck.

joy said...

I'm so sorry about Katie Fish. It is quite unfair that the simple critters sometimes just aren't so simple.

I have to second the betta fish recommendation. I managed to keep one alive quite well, until stressing it completely by moving it in Tuperware across several states with me in a moving van. Actually, it kept on through that, but I think the trip took its toll and the poor fish (named Oblong) gave out maybe two months later. Or perhaps it was living with my parents for a month...he'll never tell.

mama o' the matrices said...

Thanks, nk! Daniel, joy, alas, Speckle joined his fellow in our toilet just yesterday. We had to explain to the Eldest that you flush fish, and howled with laughter at his descriptions of Speckle swimming underground, in the sewer pipes. I did my best mafia, 'sweem with the feeshes,' and the laughed so hard I cried.

Obviously, I was punchy-tired.

Yes, we have a betta. His name is Jonah (Jonah two, actually) and I adore him as THE low-maintenance fish. But he really doesn't swim about much, so he's not exciting to the boys.

Okay, dykewife. So new tanks are lethal, eh? We have Katie Two in ours, and she looks good...so far. I'll hold off on a Speckle Two in favor of water testing, etc. Got the plants, and how often should I change the water on a new tank?

mama o' the matrices said...

Oooh, dearie. I think I allowed us to be set up for trouble - the pet store person said we could have more fish in the tank, now that we're giving up on the prettier (and larger) fantails. So now we have four wee goldfishies in the tank: Katie Two, Red Cap (who doesn't have one), Silly Fish and Snapper (who does). Hmm...

On the upside, though, I checked the water and it's fine for nitrates (nitrites?), chlorine etc, according to the test. And we have the aeration set up and bubbling away, which should also help.

Best of luck to you scaly folk. I hope you thrive.