Today may be the day I finally put the aquarium to rest, although I will miss it as a fixture in my livingroom. I rather like the soothing babbling noises of the filter and watching the air bubbles rise. I like the colorful gravel and the large rock formation that rises from it. It's a focal point for guests who stare at it in rapt amazement until they finally ask "where are the fish"?
It's another fish tale, the ones that didn't get away so much as simply expired. I expect goldfish to die with some regularity, but some were the victims of exceptional circumstances.
I believe it began when The Boy's teacher decided to put a little goldfish bowl in the center of every group of desks (nowadays, second graders are allowed to look at each other during school - the desks are pushed together in groups of four). The fish were a grand biology experiment for the children. They would learn how to be responsible for living things that they fed and cared for. Needless to say, all the fish died.
I saw one of the early corpses firsthand. When I arrived to pick my son up at his afterschool program, a counselor took me aside and handed me a plastic baggie with a small, mushy, somewhat shiny, indistinguishable mound of something that looked like it might have been a sardine that had slid out of a sandwich to the floor and had been stepped upon. I didn't make him a sardine sandwich that day.
The counselor explained that The Boy had shown up there with a fish in his pants pocket, a very dead fish. No autopsy had been performed, but a type of dissection by erosion had taken place while the body was transported inside the pocket of a small boy's jeans. The question then became, did the fish die before or after he reached the pocket?
The Boy upon questioning admitted to removing the fish from the trash after its natural demise. So when the children requested a couple of goldfish as pets, I didn't think it would be a problem.
The first fish that got sick received prompt attention from The Boy who decided to pick him up and comfort him, hastening his passing. Later fish died on their own as they will do, but also due to overfeeding, underfeeding, general attention and general neglect.
The most abused fish were the deceased ones. Although I firmly advised a flush funeral, The Girl insisted on burial. The Boy would then insist on exhuming the carcass for further examination. When the last fish finally went to Davy Jone's locker, I said "enough".
The tank is very clean now. If you glance at it quickly, the play of light and shadow makes you think you can see fish swimming about. Watching fish swim in an aquarium is rated highly as a relaxation technique. But watching an empty tank only gives one a desire to fill it and I have already seen where that leads.
So to avoid the many hours of relaxation followed by even more hours of high frustration, I think I will empty the fish tank today.