Monday, March 9, 2009

One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish--Dead Fish!

In which we discuss the dead fish.

You may recall the Crabfamily acquired three guppies recently, yes? And I did not like their home, a hot-pink aquarium complete with bulbous lid and garish purple gravel. Still, I am not so cruel as to punish them for what they have no control over. So I dutifully fed them, chlorinated the water, massaged their tiny fins...in other words, what were meant to be my daughter's first stab at having a pet instantly became my new charges.

If you want to hear the full saga of the red-tailed guppy's demise, go here. Here at Blogger I'll try to summarize. After a week of feeling sick and at first enjoying and wallowing in it, then growing annoyed with it, I spent what felt like my entire weekend engaging in: watching a guppy languish and then expire before my very eyes; getting into a passive-aggressive battle with Crabhubby over who, exactly, was to blame for the dead guppy; secretly buying a replacement guppy; driving all over town in search of the right fish and fishy accoutrements; and scrubbing purple gravel to rid it of fish-flake fungal blobbiness and assorted nitrites, or whatever the heck they're called.

It was exhausting.

The good thing about my weekend: I met Ed the Aquarium Man. Ed is the fish expert at my local Petco. He looks the way a fish expert should: slick, gingery ponytail, barrel chest. Somehow that seems right for a fish expert. Ed told me loads of not uninteresting factoids about guppies. Did you know their tummies are tinier than their tiny eyeballs? You do now.

I promise this will be my last post on fish, but since it is my last post I'm going to let myself go a little and muse upon the significance of this moment: I can safely say it's a lot of work keeping guppies alive. They may look easy but they challenge you in ways you never imagined. They require more of you than you signed up for. They also cost more in both time and money, as I discovered when had to call all over town for a miniature aquarium heater, which I found at a fish store called The Wet Spot. Gag! the Wet Spot was fairly busting with people and buzzing with fishy assistants in blue coats, sporting multiple piercings in the nose, lip, and eyebrow. In a recession it seems everyone heads for the fish store and buys up entire schools of guppies and squids and exotic whatnots. I guess in tough times, in lieu of a trip to Hawaii people just get themselves a tropical fish and be done with it.

In conclusion: I am pleased to report that we now have three healthy guppies. If my single-child only decision ever wavers at the sight of a melty-cute newborn, I will remind myself that even a guppy is too hard on my wallet, conscience, schedule, marriage, and brain power. Even a guppy is too taxing for the Crabfamily. Even a guppy can barely be kept alive in this house. Even a guppy is cause for resentment, stress, strife, martyrdom, and all in all is way more work than I bargained for.

So if you ever hear me say something mushy about babies (perhaps unlikely for the Crabmommy but I do have my mushy moments) just say these three words: remember the guppy!

Your turn: how was your w/e?

28 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

With my niece and I, it was goldfish. Which die if you look at them funny. I thought she loved the goldfish- in fact, her second word was "fisssshieeeeee".

So, of course, when Bacon the First started floating upside down, I went right out and bought a nearly identical Bacon the Second, and never told my niece.

We were up to Bacon the Twenty-Fifth before I found out that telling her the fish was in fishie heaven worked just fine. And that she didn't really care that much at all.

Wendopolis said...

Ah, fish. Been there, done that. Won't do it again. NOw we have 3 dogs.

My weekend consisted of watching the kids devour everything I"d just bought for the lunches in one day and having our nutty dog go through the fence after the neighbor's dog.

I dunno. Maybe I should go back to the fish. at least they don't break chain link fences.

RYD said...

We, too, went the way of fish. Ours are beta fish, and in addition to requiring two separate bowls (or they'll kill each other, which is a thought I entertain often) I am starting to believe these are the world's heartiest finned beings. We are going on year three and they simply Will Not Die.

foolery said...

House full of The Cats Who Came Unbidden And Will Not Leave. On the plus side, no bathing or cage-cleaning required. On the minus side, cats punish their owners by peeing on the floor, oh yes they do.

As far as I know fish have not evolved enough for that. Yay fish.

Daisy said...

I think I'll stick to the bunnies.

Ravi said...

I did the exact same thing this xmas - got my daughter some tetras and two cute little catfish to eat the algae. Then I found out that you basically have to become a marine biologist and a little bit of an amateur chemist to keep them alive.

I hope you meant that you de-chlorinated (not chlorinated) the water, wicthycrab, because Ed should have told you that chlorinne would kill the nitrogen processing bacteria in there. The ones that are necessary to establish a functioning nitrogen cycle where ammonia from the fishies' food and excrement gets processed into nitrites, and then nitrates!!! As you learn more about this amazing science experiment that you've started, you'll have so much fun testing the water daily for nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, ammonia, ph, and alkalinity; changing water (after you've treated it with aquarium salts and something to neutralize the chlorine and other harmful solutes, naturally) practically every two days or so; and changing filters. Did you know, by the way, that smaller aquariums are more advanced, because it's easier for the chemistry in them to get out of whack?

That's my life now. Almost constantly tinged with guilt about how long it's been since I last changed their water. The two catfish died, which was tragic and heartbreaking for my daughter -- she still draws them and talks about how they died and how she misses them -- so we replaced them with snails. Snails look very cool and also eat algae. But they also eat the plants I planted in there, so now I have to keep re-planting those also. Woohooo - underwater gardening.

So my conclusion is that not only a dog, but maybe even a pack of wild dogs would be lower maintenance than this aquarium. My heart goes out to you wicthycrab.

Angelique Lee said...

Whatever you do, don't get suckered into hermit crabs ;-) I'm a big fan of choosing an animal that can share my unaltered ecosystem. But we still have the damn hermit crab.

Crabmommy said...

Ravi,
Dechlorinated! Yes. Snails sound really cool. And a little bird tells me if you're having troubles maintaining an aquarium, the Crabmommy has no business even trying.

Angelique, I'll take that on advisement. No hermit crabs. Only room for one crab in my house, frankly, and that would be yours truly.

Villagepig said...

Do yourself a favour and exchange your Guppy for a silver and orange goldfish :-)

Seriously, we bought an ennsy weensy one for the boys, put it in a little tank of cold water with some gravel and a filter. all we ever have to do is top up his water and give him a pellet and he is HUGE now. Seriously, the easiest pet on the planet.

Now if only I could train my hubby to be that easy eh?

VP

LMN said...

Oh gosh, poor little guppies! Good story, though. Mostly I wanted to comment on the tampon weiner dog. That. was. hilarious. I now know what to do with the ones I carry in my purse for too long and then the wrapping comes off....

Nice to visit your blog, Crabmommy.

mommyknows said...

Fish aren't easy. We've tried them a few times now. The third and last fish of round 4 just died on Friday.

I'm surprised you secretly replaced him though!

crabmommy said...

Why, thank you, dear LMN! Glad to be of service vis-a-vis craftastic ideas for tampons. Certainly the white weiner is a thrifty and charming craft project ust right for our times. recession-fabulous, I say!

MK, I know, I know. It's the Crabhub--he was convinced that b/c we killed it and so fast (and we did, watching it languish and sorta doing NOTHING bout it) we ought not start with the fish funerals. Especially since Tot had had no time to care about the fish at all...which would have made for a much happier funeral than otherwise. But Crabhub thought it was wrong and I caved to his ill humor on the whole thing.

Btw, Crabkid is now sporting the glimmerings of compassion and interest in the fish. Just a twinkle of interest once in a while. Maybe because the guppies now actually move. On account of the heater. Before the heater, they barely moved, frozen as they were.

But yes. A lot of trouble to avoid a smidge of discomfort for the tot when a life lesson could have and probably should have been taught, even if the lesson is merely "your parents are far from perfect; in fact they are a-holes when it comes to guppy comfort." We wimped out, but trust me, I won't be doing that again. The next death will be very public. Scrubbing gravel surreptitiously and storing guppies in secret bags---wa-a-a-ay too much work.

How to Party with an Infant said...

Your blog is killing me--glad I found it.

Donna Coxon-McCory said...

Our red betta fish came to us via a child's birthday party favor! Yes, it's true... After a fun 'fishing game' off the deck, the dad would tie the plastic cup to the hook and up would come a real fish. The kids were ecstatic... I looked at my hubbie in horror and basically said, "not another bloody responsibility!"

I racked myself with guilt that the poor fish had to swim around in dirty water in a short plastic cup with a lid so went around looking for a replacement the next day. Found that the fish bowls were pretty small and expensive at the pet stores so went to thrift stores. I finally found a pretty large round vase then toddled off back to the pet store and bought a plant, rocks and other little items -- including the de-chlorinating liquid.

My son called the male betta, Scissors. So now when he talks about loving everyone in the family, he actually includes the fish at the end.

I should add that we now have an algae sucking fish called Speckles. Hubbie thought it would help with the overgrowth of green moss on the plant. For some reason, there's more of it now.

And yes, of course, yours truly is the one who feeds the fish his balanced diet. The fish bowl lives on the dining room table and Scissors glares at me as I eat, so it's hard to forget about him. These fish are smart and are extremely hardy!

You could say this posting hit home. Didn't mean to write such a long comment!

mommyknows said...

Hey CM,

I am happy to hear the replacement fish wasn't your idea. I knew you couldn't be that sappy.

I've got tons of succisive time on my hands and I made up my own meme. You've been tagged. I know, I know ... I'm sorry!

Amanda Enclade said...

I somehow have a goldfish that is going on 10+ years. he has been through it all from total neglect and starvation to freezing cold water to glimmering shiny tank and is still happily alive today.he must have a very strong spirit!

Catherine said...

LOL, I think you just became my new favorite read!

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

This chlorinated water fish saga takes me back. The first consumer complaint I ever registered (informally, ineffectively, by way of a letter) was against the local pet store which refused to refund me the cost of the goldfish it sold me and which promptly died. My mom saved a copy of the letter. I was one outraged eight year old.

Good luck with the guppies. Good thing they are slick and slimey and hard to bond with.

cluckandtweet.com said...

I had to look up "guppy" in wikipedia since I confused them with the scientifically named "pollywog," and couldn't figure out why they're so difficult to raise. I found out that guppies can be used for mosquito control. Try that with a newborn! You may share that information as you see fit.

Sean said...

BTW, off topic: check out this video report that was done by the SABC correspondent here in New York City on the South African emigrant vote here in the US:

http://theleoafricanus.com/2009/03/23/south-africans-voting-abroad/

cryitout said...

(Sorry, just had to say how much I love your baby einstein craft button!)

Margot said...

I don't want to miss another of your blogs! Where is your feed? How do I sign up?

Barbi said...

We have one amazing goldfish right now. All the other fish have died, but this one is staying strong, as long as I throw in some fresh water and some ammonia tablets and PH decreaser liquid about once a week. I am not sure if I'll get a replacement or not when this one goes. Not sure how to explain that one to a 2-1/2 year old. He will want to know what happened, where is the fish, etc etc. I am subscribing to your blog so I can get some good parenting tips. Or should I say "real life" parenting tips. Heh.

melissa said...

i just tell my kids that they need to wait a year and win the goldfish again at the purim carnival at our temple. it's become a family tradition. isn't that cute? but really...i hate fish. i collect cats. 5 IS a collection, right?

PB Rippey/sleepless mama said...

Goldfish, guppies, in the end they're all the same darn fish and they all die even if I follow instructions meticulously, which, for me, is Herculean. Crabmommy--good for you for driving around and finding a replacement fish and the fish guy. Hope the little fish keep on swimming for a long time. I hate that flushing business. So wrong.

Kathleen Christensen said...

My daughter's fourth-grade class just did science projects. One boy's was on the nitrogen cycle. I had thought it would be on the global nitrogen cycle. But no, it was a detailed presentation on the nitrogen cycle in fish tanks. The knowledge he gained doing the project will help future fish in his family's care, I gather.

Melanie said...

Keeping (cheap) fish are a little tricky... but at least you dont ahve to spend thousands of dollars on fish tanks!

dina @ fisher price digital said...

Too bad about them guppies, but this post was a good read.