Tag Archive | aquaria

How to Traumatize the Neighbourhood Kids in 2 Easy Steps

How to Traumatize the Neighbourhood Kids in 2 Easy Steps 

  1. Raise your kids to be philosophical about matters of life and death in the animal world.
  2. Let them invite friends over and watch the fun!
Traumatize neighbourhood

“Traumatize the Neighbourhood Kids in 2 Easy Steps!”

My childhood dream was to be a marine biologist, so I have always been interested in keeping tropical fish. Our last aquarium, a 25 gallon freshwater tank with an assortment of tropical fish, made it through our fire as well as 4 moves within 3 homes within 2 cities before settling in its (thus far) final placement in the front hall of our house.

While Ben was a toddler, all of the remaining fish passed away one at a time and were not replaced, leaving us with a working, filtering tank, but no livestock, and since I planned to eventually re-stock it, I kept it running…for…uh…five years.

Scene: Ben giving the “house tour” to any new guests to our home

Guest: “Wow, a fish tank! How many fish do you have?”

Ben: “None. They all died.”

Guest: “Oh! That’s too bad…You must have been very sad.”

Ben: “Not really. They died a long time ago.”

Guest: “Uh…”

Me (in my head): “I really should either empty that tank or get new fish before people start to think we’re weird…uh…er.”

Recently Ben became very interested in ichthyology and aquaria (Yay!!! I’m going to live out my childhood dream vicariously through my kid!! But…uh…no pressure, bud…) and begged me to finally nail down a timeline for restoring the tank to its former glory. Two weekends ago we cleaned it (ugh):


Ben cleaning the model coral reef


Molly scrubbing the plastic plants


Empty (clean-ish) tank


Filling the jug to pour into the tank. Funny story: When we went to move the tank for the first time, after the fire (I’ll get to that in another post – be patient!) I went to the grocery store to ask if I could pay the $10 deposit for some empty water cooler jugs. The girl refused, saying, “I can’t let you do that because you could bring them back and we wouldn’t know what you had put in them.” I said, “But I assume you don’t just fill them up with water again without sanitizing them first, so what does it matter?” She said, “But you could use them for something gross and then return them.” I said, “Like…uh…cleaning a fish tank? Well, yeah, I could, but I could also get a full one, empty it, and do that anyway.” She said, “I’m not selling you an empty jug.” I said, “Fine,” turned to the guy behind me in line carrying 2 empty jugs, and said, “If I give you the $20 you’d get from her for those, can I have them?” He said, “Sure,” and gave them to me and I smiled at her and walked out.

…and last Friday we got a school of neon tetras and an albino cory to start things off. Sadly, one of the tetras did not survive the weekend.


The tank in its current clean and stocked state.

Scene: Ben showing his friend the newly stocked tank

Friend: “How many are there?”

Ben: “Five. There were six but one died. We have to take the body back to the store so they’ll give us a new one. It’s in the freezer.”

Me (in my head): “I’m glad he didn’t mention the part where I accidentally poured the other fish body down the drain.”

I seem to be having bad luck with tetras (or perhaps more accurately, the fish store seems to be having bad luck with them) because we went back to the store yesterday for a school of fan-tail guppies and a replacement neon who promptly up and died in the car on the way home.

Scene: Ben and his friend admiring the baggie of new fish acclimating to the tank

Friend: “Look at that little one!”

Ben: “That’s the dead one.”

Friend: “I like those little ones.”

Ben: “Those are neon tetras. They’re the same kind as the dead one.”

Me (in my head): “At least they haven’t noticed that the guppies are snacking on the corpse.”

Guppy cannibals

Artists rendition of the cannibalistic guppy feeding frenzy.

Fortunately for all involved they lost interest and went outside to ride bikes before they noticed the cannibalistic guppy feeding frenzy with the other neon standing (swimming? floating?) vigil for their fallen comrade. As my friend Jenn put it, “It’s like some sort of Sicilian mob-devised psychological torture.”

Between this and the fact that a friend posted on Facebook yesterday that she had dreamed about helping my mom and me defend the house from a zombie horde (successfully, so I’ve got that going for me…) I’m a little concerned about what Halloween night might bring.

Uh…Julia? The zombies weren’t by any chance scaly and blue and red striped, were they?

~ karyn