31 Things, Day 20: Admiring an aquarium

31 things I'd rather be doing right now

My mom bought a 10 gallon aquarium when I was in the seventh grade. We kept a few tropical fish barely alive for a couple months, and every couple of months would replace the poor dead fish with new ones. We really had no idea what we were doing, and thus did just about everything wrong.

Fast forward fifteen or so years, and I floated (ha) the idea of owning an aquarium to my wife. I told her that I would do all the research, would get everything used on ebay (found a local pickup), and a few months later we had 37 gallon aquarium in our apartment. She was hesitant not so much for the expense, but the reason – why? Hard to say, really. They just look beautiful, even cute. Even soothing.

Vitaro Aquarium, circa 2005

The actual Vitaro Aquarium, circa 2005

But owning and and maintaining an aquarium is not a simple hobby. There’s lots of things to consider: best fish for your water pH, fish that play nice together, maintaining water temperature with the ebbs and flows of your own region’s climate, the type of filtration, chemical testing to be sure nothing is out of balance, weekly water changes, monthly tank cleaning, proper feeding so every fish gets something, dealing with ich…. it’s a lot to keep track of, and becomes more of a chore than something fun rather quickly.

And even though we were doing all the right things, no fish we owned lived longer than one year. Was it the quality of the fish we were buying? Were we too lax in our fish mixing? Should we have had a quarantine tank like the book suggested? We don’t know.

When we moved into our first house 7 years ago, the fish had all died a month before, and we agreed not to replace them, to make the move easier. The empty (smelly) tank came with us to the house, but stayed empty, in the basement, for several years. Then the kids came, and when they were toddling around, they got into everything. I kept picturing them knocking the aquarium over, and I just couldn’t bring myself to setting it up again. I wouldn’t care about the water damage and dead fish, I was more afraid of the kids getting hurt. We eventually gave the tank and stand to a friend for his bearded dragon.

Poor Gourami, we hardly knew ye

I do miss those platys, gouramis, rasboras, guppies, corydoras, and tetras we once had. They were soothing to watch. Maybe someday, when the kids are older and can contribute to maintaining it, we’ll get a nice big aquarium, and keep some larger fish like an oscar cichlid. Until then, we’ll have to settle for the local Petsmart.

So that’s another thing I’d rather be doing now, admiring an aquarium.

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