Posted by: morrowsl | August 1, 2013

The Giant in the Fish Tank


Meet Martin.  He’s a Japanese Fantail Goldfish.  He’s roughly two and a half.  Yeah, big for his age.  He may need lapband surgery.  Or maybe he’s got a thyroid issue.  I’m not sure.  What I do know is, he’s HUGE compared to what I was expecting when I agreed to bring him home with me.

See, when my son and daughter-in-law were planning their wedding reception, the theme was “beach” to go with their wedding that took place on the beach in Jamaica.  Lots of flowers and shells and sand.  And fish bowls with real fish.  Which were really neat swimming around on the tables as we ate and drank and danced the summer night away.  At the end of the night, all of the fish found homes except Abraham (no, I didn’t change the fish’s name, just hang with me here a minute and I’ll ‘splain) who ended up having to spend the night at the reception hall.  Alone.  With the air conditioner set on meat locker since there were a lot of people going in and out of the heat that night and we just couldn’t seem to get cool.  Abraham’s little bowl had tiny icebergs in it by morning.  I felt really bad.  I set him outside in the warmer air and promised I’d look after him.
I dutifully went to the local pet supply and bought a ten gallon tank with all the trimmings – gravel, filter, plants, and decorations.  Oh, and two more fish.  I figured Abraham needed friends.  I named the two new fish Martin and John.
Two weeks later, I was already tired of trying to keep the tank clean and I was down to one fish.  Martin.  I have decided it wasn’t just a case of survival of the fittest.  I think Martin offed the others in a plot to have all the food and all the space!!
Almost immediately, Martin started growing.  The kind of growing that you can almost hear.  Like in the movies when the kid eats the wrong thing and suddenly his clothes shrink.
Martin went from marble-sized “Calico” goldfish to what is commonly referred to in the sport-fishing world as “a slab”!!  His fins and tail got really long, like those horses in the movies about Medieval times.  He started to grow a bit of a hump on his back.  Thank GAWD his eyes didn’t get all bulged out or I’d have been forced to flush him.  I can’t stand those googley-eyed fish.

I’d been cleaning the tank on a weekly schedule.  Dip Martin out and plop him into my largest mixing bowl filled with dirty poo water siphoned out of the tank, then siphon more water into a bucket to make the tank portable.  Carry it sloshingly to the sink and commence flushing the copious quantities of fish poo and uneaten food down the drain.  Scrub all the slime off all the decorations, rinse the gravel till is squeaked, wipe down the inside walls of the tank…  Good grief.  I’m kind of a clean freak, but this was overkill even for me!

Then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t keep the tank clean for more than a few days.  The crystal clear water seemed to cloud exceedingly fast.  I bought a new pump, which helped for a bit, but then the plants started dying and everything started turning to green moss.
I would have flushed him for real then, except I’d started to notice he had a really cool personality.  I’m not kidding!!  He would swim really fast around his tank doing his best Lightening McQueen impersonation.  Then he’d gulp a huge air bubble and head for the bottom where he’d let it out, then back to the top like he wanted to get there to hear it “pop” on the surface.  Sheli even swears she saw him fart once…  I’ve never seen this.  But who am I to say fish don’t fart?

So, in desperation, I turned to my friend, Christine, my own personal animal guru.  She advised I was killing Martin by over-cleaning his tank.  Trust me, it’s not the first time I’ve done damage by cleaning a thing too much.  She told me to get a bigger pump and gave me the name of some additives to use.  And she said to leave things alone and let them settle their own issues, much as they would naturally.
What?  You mean there’s not someone who goes out into the ocean and sucks up all the poop?
Things did show signs of improving, but then I let Mike talk me into a catfish.  Catty.  She was neat.  But she didn’t last long.  We came home from vacation to find her floating and Martin hunkered down in the corner with fin rot.
I ran to the pet supply and bought a treatment and for a week Martin lived in a neon green world that had to have him thinking I’d put mescaline in his food.  I also bought an even bigger filter, this time with a secondary cleaning system and, once the treatment was done, I cleaned the tank for the last time.  If he died, he died.  I was over it.

Now, a good 90 days later, I think things are better than ever.  Martin’s tail and fins are almost back to their pre-rot grandeur.  He seems happy.  The new filter is definitely keeping things much cleaner and I can get by with a 20% water change once every quarter.
But now I’m thinking if he grows any more, we’re gonna need a bigger tank…

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