Well this post has been a long time coming, since we actually bought the beloved fish tank back in May last year. Make of this delay what you will, but I think it’s because it hasn’t exactly been my favourite thing in the world.
Let’s be honest, when you think of a tropical fish tank you think ‘calming and relaxing’. I have yet to find any of our pets calming and relaxing. What they have added to our lives compared with the stress, cost and inconvenience they cause, pretty much leaves us with negative equity.
So fish then.
Firstly you have to spend a lot of money and several days of your life that you won’t get back researching the right tank, the right equipment and the right fish.
Then you take your daughter to the pet shop excited with the possibility of buying fish, only to find that it’s not allowed yet. Instead you let her buy a number of gaudy tank ornaments that make the empty tank, as my husband put it, “look like a unicorn vomited in it”.
For a week you can watch an empty tank while your five year old pretty much loses interest in the whole idea.
The tank buzzes. This is not a calming noise but an irritating one and suggests we should have bought a different tank, for which you curse Google. The buzzing volume increases at 10pm every night and you can find no reason for this. You cannot send it back because it is now full of water and if you start again it will be Christmas by the time you actually own a fish.
Eventually you are allowed to buy fish, but inevitably the internet was wrong and you choose the wrong ones. You let your children name them. The fish bully each other and quite quickly die. Apart from one miserable unattractive one (sorry fish) who sits on the bottom of the gravel and doesn’t move much. He will live on past any more beautiful fish you try to purchase. You feel guilty.
You buy more fish and wisely decide not to name them this time. Some live, some die – you find one sticking out of the filter (so you stand in the way of the tank while you ask your daughter to check on the rabbits instead).
You work hard changing the water (which is frankly much more of a faff than Google suggested) and cleaning the tank. You mess with pH levels and water temperatures. You use holiday blocks for weekends away but daren’t leave the house too long in case they don’t work and more fish die, this time of starvation.
Eventually everything seems right. More fish are purchased and they stay alive and make the tank look attractive. Well if you ignore the multicoloured rainbow, beach bar and pink gravel.
One of the new fish takes the post of barman at the beach bar and two move into the castle. Apart from the buzzing all is well.
Then begins the curse of the snails. You didn’t buy snails and yet they appear everywhere. Teeny tiny ones that you remove with difficulty and yet they multiply when you next look round.
But it’s ok. I’ve said “you” a lot in this entry, when in fact I mean “my husband”. He had tropical fish as a child and he has very kindly taken on the whole thing. He has the patience of some kind of fish tolerant saint.
I feel a little guilty about my lack of involvement. But not guilty enough to go and fill a bucket.
So Paul, thank you honey. You are doing a sterling job. It’s quite pretty really. And at least fish don’t require injections and operations and aren’t gnawing their tank to pieces…