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One fish, two fish…


My daughter has had fish up in her room for a couple of years. Sadly, we had to start over a few months ago after the ice storm knocked out our power and the little fishies did not survive the cold.

But now she’s back up and running with a betta fish and a garami who each have their own tank they share with a few water snails. She really seems to enjoy the simple pleasures of having them to take care of and watch and all that, so my wife and I decided to get a tank for the living room. I found a deal on Facebook for a pretty good-sized 45-gallon tank and after investing a little money in some stuff for it on Amazon, we were ready to get a few fish for it.

My daughter is the designated fish specialist in the family so we deferred to her on some specifics, like only using real aquatic plants, making sure we had the right kind of “substrate” (or as you and I might call it, “rocks”) for the tank and all that sort of business. She also told us which kind of fish we could have with which other kind of fish without igniting a fishy turf war.

So, we went to the pet store over in Memphis, either Pet Smart or Petco, I really can’t remember which, and I’m not going to lie… on this particular trip, it was like I was the kid and she was the parent, with her being all like, “No, Dad, you can’t put guppies and bettas together,” and “No, Dad, we want the dwarf pleco not the striped pleco.

The tank is too small for those.” (FYI, a pleco is an algae eater that you and I might call a “sucky fish”).

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Ultimately, we ended up with six fan-tailed goldfish of varying shades and color patterns as well as two little sucky fish (they will always be sucky fish to me, no matter how many times she tells me they are a clown pleco and a calico pleco). And we took them home and showed them their new digs.

One of them, sadly, died overnight, but the other five seem to be doing well.

The cats seem to really like watching them too, so I guess the whole family is getting to enjoy the benefits of having the fish tank.

While we were at the pet store, I kept trying to get some of those cool little red and blue neon tetras, even though my daughter insisted that they did not need to be in the same tank as the goldfish. As a compromise, she set me up with a little 10-gallon tetras -only tank in my home office, complete with all the multicolored fake plants and the stone skull and all that jazz that is way too tacky for her respectable fish tank, but definitely “looks like a Dad tank,” as she so eloquently puts it.

We started off with six little tetras and then decided to bump it up to 10. And the cool thing about them is that they school together, so at any given time, you’ll catch five or six of them just hanging out together in the middle of the tank, while the others will go off by themselves to chill inside the stone skull or swim through the bubble stream in the back of the tank or just float alone and contemplate whatever it is little fishes conemplate.

So, if you’re looking for a low-impact hobby or something you can do together as a family, couple or even alone, I highly recommend getting a fish tank. Yes, there’s some initial startup cost, but I find the whole thing kind of relaxing and rewarding.

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