Last Wednesday I fell into my little boy’s trap, and I bought him three fishies—which he named Steve, Dave, and Robert–and a snail—named Spady. He had been begging for an aquarium for a long time, but the thought of another live being under my responsibility haunted me. In the end, my son’s beautiful eyes–same as his Daddy’s–shot me in my Achilles’ heel and I gave in.
Forty- five dollars later—50% off from $90–we left the pet store with everything but the fishes. Elaine, the attendant, told us we had to set up the tank first. I should have known then that this was not going to be easy.
As a kid I never had pet fishies, only dogs and chickens. So, the idea of an aquarium to me was the grumpy fish from The Cat in the Hat: a bowl and a fish right? Well… no. Pet stores have developed a complete universe of money-making items for little creatures that don’t even know they exist.
When we got home, I opened the box and found a bunch of things inside that reminded me how naive my idea of “we just need a bowl and a fish” was. I read the instructions and followed them step by step. To get the tank ready I had to, first wash the gravel and decorations, install the pump, the heater, and the thermometer, and last fill it with water. My son was so happy and kept hugging me and telling me, “Thank you Mommy!” How could I say no?
On Friday, after the end of the preschool picnic at his school, we drove–as I promised my son a hundred times–to buy his fishes. We met Elaine again, but before my son started choosing his new friends, she explained to us that there is an array of personalities and some fish can’t live together in the same tank.
I was amazed that such little creatures could be temperamental, but I understand them. Heck, I can barely share my home with my husband and my son!
Out of all the options, my son picked three fishes—white, orange, and black–and a tiger-spot snail. This little guy was a last minute decision and I encouraged it, because Elaine said that snails help clean up the bottom of the tank making my OCD bell go “ding, ding, ding!”
Leaving the pet store, my son held the bag as if he were holding eggs. He even told me to be careful and drive slowly during the car ride home. I couldn’t believe he was the same kid who has the touch of a construction worker.
We made it home, but again, we had to follow more instructions to put the fish inside the tank. The wait was driving my son crazy; he was so close to having his new friends swimming in a world that he had created.
At last, the new members of the Spadafora family swam into their “forever home” amidst cheers and clapping from my son and my stepdaughter. However, the term “forever” lasted less than twenty-four hours.
When my son sprinkled their breakfast the next morning, we noticed that two of them, literally, “slept with the fishes.” By noon, the three amigos were on the bottom like they had anchors on their fins. I hope the fact that The Spadaforas are Italian had nothing to do with it.
With a heavy heart but hiding the truth, I told my son that his new friends were not feeling well and that I had to take them to the doctor. As I walked into the pet store by myself, with the evidence of my crime, I told Elaine, “I am a fish killer!” She smiled and told me not to worry and that it happened all the time. I guess that’s why they come with a 30-day guaranty.
I couldn’t get any new friends as I forgot to bring a sample of our tank’s water. So, the next morning, my husband and our son went to the store and picked the new ones, all silver, looking like triplets.
So far, it’s been three days. The fish are still alive, and I am not allowed to go near them, per my husband and my son’s orders. We’ll see how long they last.
Thanks for reading and sharing.