Something fishy

I kinda have a thing about fish tanks.

It developed over the years as I spent a lot of time sitting around in pediatricians or dentists waiting rooms with the girls. There is almost always a fish tank in those kind of offices, which I think probably serves as a litmus test for the quality of the care we are about to receive. A sparkling tank with contented fish swimming around lazily always bodes well. An elaborate salt water set-up with brilliantly exotic fish probably means I’m going to be paying waaaay more than I originally thought– these are usually orthodontist’s offices, by the way. And sometimes there are a few sluggish-looking goldfish hovering around the bottom of a green-tinged tank, which definitely makes you want to walk right out of that walk-in clinic!

But as I sat in all of those offices over the years and attempted to keep Madi and Charlotte occupied (and distracted from the possibility of the horror-of-all-childhood-horrors– A SHOT!!), I did notice that there was definitely a calming effect to watching fish swim around a tank; it’s kind of hypnotic. So one day when the girls were about 8 and 4, I had a weak moment in a PetSmart and got one of those little tabletop one-gallon tanks and stuck a couple of goldfish in it. Theoretically it was for the girls, but eventually the tank sort of migrated to a bookshelf in my bedroom, where it’s stayed ever since. I graduated to a 3 1/2 gallon size a few years ago, and branched out a little bit from plain goldfish, to fantails, to dwarf African frogs, to what I currently have which is two fancy-tail guppies and two neon cardinal tetras. Their tank is well-lit with some of those plastic green plants in there and a cheesy little arched bridge and colored stones sprinkled around the gravel on the bottom. I get an embarrassing amount of pleasure out of them, I am watching them right now while I type. The guppies are both male, as I am not interested in raising baby guppies since according to Google most of the small fry end up getting eaten alive by their parents, which, hello? Ewww, no thanks! The two guppies are really beautiful– they are just about an inch long and one of them has a yellow head, with an turquoise tummy and a big orange swoopy tail like this:

and the other one is gold with black spots, kind of like a leopard pattern:

Aren’t they pretty? Here’s what the tetras look like:

Unfortunately, their life span can vary wildly around here– some have not lasted even 24 hours, but some have lasted for months and months. These two look pretty dang healthy, they flit all around the tank and love their little guppy flakes like a fat kid loves pie so I hope they live a long time. I might even name them. I’m open to suggestions.

Well, that’s my why-yes-apparently-I-AM-turning-into-an-old-fart confession of the day! So, what’s yours?

24 Responses

  1. LindaB

    Suggestions for your fish’s names? What about David, Michael, and Wes. Wes would be the little bitty one. And you can name your tank—–Bill!

    I like to stare at fish tanks too, Tori! Small world, huh? One of our favorite Chinese restaurants has this humongous fish aquarium in the lobby. They have some pretty big fish in there——-some exotic and beautiful ones too. I count the fish when I first come in, and then count them when I leave—–just in case!

    But you know what really freaks me out——that tank at the grocery store that has live lobsters in it—— just crawling around in there…..doing their last dance! How creepy is that!!! I think someday I’ll buy one just so I can set it free………….in the humongous fish tank at the Chinese restaurant! That’ll stir things up a little.

  2. rachelbaker

    In our house, I’m the one who deals with spiders while my husband and daughters cower in the corner. I’ve never had a problem with insects, snakes, the dark, confined spaces, actually I’m a very level headed person.

    But Tropical Fish … thats another matter altogether. Plain goldfish I have always been able to cope with (apart from having an amazing ability to kill them off as a child), but the spotty, stripy and altogether freaky ones used to leave me a slightly quivering wreck.
    5 years ago we went on holiday to the carribean and I bravely confronted my deepest phobia (well who can go to those beautiful islands and not snorkel) and after a very close encounter with a shoal of exceedingly blue fish I pretty much cured myself. Now its just the most extreme examples of tropicalness (or should that be tropicality)that make me a little shaky.

    In fact the only thing that has ever given me such a severe phobic reaction was a type of flower (very large flower) I once saw in France. I certainly hope I never see one of those again.

    Anyway, I’m glad you find your fish soothing, I find them somewhat unsettling. I know I am weird!!

    I will always now look at fish tanks in clinics in a different light, and test whether your theory is correct (I reckin you’re on to something there).

  3. MostlySunny

    Oh, yes, we did the fish thing! When the boys were in Pee-Wee and Little League baseball, they had to sell candy as a fundraiser. Well, one year, they were the top-sellers and won about $50.00. They wanted to buy a fish tank. Off we went and came home with the 1-gallon tank, the arch bridge (probably the same as yours), rocks, food, net, etc. Put the 4 goldfish in and watched them enjoy their new habitat. They were named Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Will Clark and Matt Williams. (For those of you who aren’t baseball fans, the first two played for the Oakland A’s and the other two played for the San Francisco Giants. We lived in the San Francisco bay area; this is 1989 – remember the “World Series” earthquake? We lived it!)

    Anyway…A few days later, we woke up one morning and found 2 of them (I think Jose and Will) floating at the top. Oh Dear! My oldest son was devastated. The youngest said, “Fish die; get over it.” The oldest son wants to bury them in the back yard, funeral and all. I think we sang “Shall we gather by the river”; well, maybe not, but we sang something! Buried the fish with a cross-of-twigs marking the spot. Very sad, but good closure. Oldest son goes off to school.

    AS SOON AS HE LEAVES the youngest is out the back door headed for the pet cemetery. I decided to watch from the window…he starts digging, and digging, and digging…can’t find the fish. He stands up with the most startled look on his face…then came racing back into the house yelling “THE FISH ALREADY WENT TO HEAVEN!” I didn’t necessarily say anthing to change his line of thinking.

    Ahhh, those wonderful teachable moments as a Mom! Aren’t we good?

    I love fish tanks, but it’s been years…thanks for the memories, Tori.

  4. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Gracious,rachelbaker, I don’t believe I have ever heard of someone having a fear of tropical fish. But, you certainly impressed me the way you confronted those fish under water, dear one.

    Mostly Sunny, that was precious. Reminds me of the time when my younger son was in second grade and they were studying the Rapture. My grandmother died and he asked me if he could fly on up ahead with her.

    That same son eventually maintained a 55 gallon and a 29 gallon fish tank, side by side. His were the salt water kind with all kinds of tropical fish, crabs, sea horses, anomonies, etc. We all would sit and watch those fish and other things….and we got to know a little about them. I do believe it is a form of therapy staring into those fish tanks. As the years passed, those beautifully colored fish and other things started becoming more expensive to buy….especially when some didn’t live very long. Once there were four fish of the same kind that jumped completely out of the tank and committed sucide. And the anomonies would eat any fish that came near except the one kind….and that one kind was totally fascinating to watch
    interact. One time Mark went to the Keys to dive and he brought home a plant to go in his tank; this caused his tank to crash. He gave the fish away and took his tank apart. The tank was a lot of work to keep up…and he had other interests now. I missed it.


    LindaB – Now, I really guffawed at those names, ande Tori – I think that her names are great! Send those guys some pics of their namesakes! I have never met a group of people like this in my life w/ such humor, so fun to listen to! Ya’ll are truly great. Yep, I said ya’ll – it is native language here.

    Used to have fish, and they are very relaxing, unless you have 3 cats. I still have the cats. Nuff said! Johnnie

  6. CarolynR

    My brother kept tropical fish when we were kids. Could never get attached to them, they kept dying! We were forever holding funeral services around the loo. It wasn’t very relaxing! Love the names LindaB :)
    By the way Tori the thought of being SHOT at the doctors would certainly put a damper on my day 8<

  7. rockin robyn

    My confession of turning into an old fart would beeeee — not having those things around that would cause more responsibility. I soooo would love to get a puppy (an ankle biter type) but I just don’t want another thing to take care of…. worrying about cleaning out a fish tank and stuff???

    Boy do I have a fish story for ya — years ago… (in a land far…) well never mind that, quite a few years ago, my uncle had a 5 gallon fish tank. He got sick and wasn’t able to take care of it and the fish died and the tank was really “grody” and green. Eventually he got moved into a care facility and we had to clean out his apartment. I wanted the fish tank!! I tossed everything that was inside it and bought all new stuff. I had kewl stone covering the bottom, a little bridge the fish-eees could swim around and through, I learned all there was to learn about watching the correct levels of PH in the water, got a fancy filter thingy and new light, went shopping for fish… this was going to be awesome!!

    First I bought two black tetras and one colorful one (didn’t want just plain goldfish) cause I wanted something I didn’t know about. Came home from work and all through-out that week, every day I came home another fish – dead.

    Went out and bought some goldfish – came home they died with-in days.

    What am I doing wrong here?! What I didn’t tell you is back when I got the aquarium and it was all gross and green – I scrubbed the thing, sparkling clean with comet…

    I’m told the fish never had a chance.

  8. LindaB

    Robyn, I LOL’d at your story! Long ago, in another life where I lived at my childhood home and had no worries to speak of, my brother had a fish tank about the size of Lake Michigan! He would have croaked if we brought a can of Comet into the room where the fish lived. In fact, we couldn’t use hair spray or perfume in the house even! (Hey, I think I know now why I didn’t have a boyfriend then! lol ) We couldn’t mist Windex on the windows for fear of making the fish sick! I personally liked it ’cause I wasn’t into using Comet or Windex back then!!!! I also didn’t believe him—–I thought he was exaggerating! One day I sprayed Windex in the room when he was gone. He was right. Sorry little brother.

  9. rachelbaker

    I am enjoying these stories of dead tropical fish so much!!!

    My parents bought me and my brother a goldfish each for Christmas once. One died on Christmas Eve and the other Boxing Day. Every goldfish we ever owned was called Pluto. I think we got to about Pluto the 15th before realising fish keeping wasn’t for us.

  10. justThelma

    I’m loving all these fishy stories. LOL! Don’t have a fish tank – don’t want the extra work – but I enjoy watching other people’s fish swim around.

    My getting-old confession? When I bend over to pick up something I’ve dropped, I have a look around to see what else I can do while I’m down there.

  11. LindaB

    LOLROF, THELMA!!!! I thought you were going to say something ELSE when you started your “getting older” confession…….”when I bend over to pick up something I dropped……..”!!! Oh, and you’re right—–when I “laugh out loud and roll on the floor” I look for something else to do while I’m down there! I even take a snack in case I’m down there longer than planned!

    Enjoyed your “confession”!

  12. gracelynn

    My mom has two fish tanks – one for her exotic fish and the other for the small local fish that dad seines out of our pond. We have a bream in that one that is so pretty but he’s getting so big, we’re going to have to release him into the pond and get us another little one. What we get the biggest laugh over is when guests come in, walk by the tank, stop, and point to the algae eater. This algae eater is HUGE! Mom has had that fish forever and he is usually parked up against the side of the tank facing you directly. He’s too big now to hide on top of the fake ship at the bottom or to swim into the hole in the rock pieces. When I’ve had a really bad day teaching, I come in, sit down on the sofa and just watched them swimming around freely, patiently waiting for their food flakes. It truly is relaxing. The only thing I hate is having to clean the tank!

  13. jonny

    But I’m sure they truly appreciate all the hard work you put in doing so! You can tell by the ever so happy “O” How Wonderful expressions their little, I guess a couple cases big, fishy mouths make!! = @

  14. GRITSinNC

    Ya’ll are so much fun…wish I had a quick wit like ya’ll & Tori do (yes, Johnnie, that’s native language down here too).

    I don’t really have a funny story about fish tanks but I did have a 10-gallon one when the children were young teens and pre-teens. I loved collecting the various kinds of fish and usually ended up with two many. Tori, I did have several sets of baby guppies…I finally got the separate guppy tank so the babies wouldn’t be eaten. Watching fish in a nice tank really IS mesmerizing and relaxing; however, I hated taking care of it so when the children all left home…in fact sooner, the fish tank went too. It was also a headache when one of my cousins came with her two girls who were like bulls in a china shop, and would knock the light into the aquarium…sadly no one got electrocuted (just joking).

    I sometimes get the urge to get a small one again but come to my senses pretty quick. I can’t even grow live plants anymore…just too much trouble to take of anything but myself. Now the screen saver fish tank is more my style…you can peacefully enjoy watching them swim without the work. You can even “feed” them.

  15. justThelma

    Thanks, Linda. I know where your thought process was taking you, but I figured there was no point in making a ‘getting-old’ confession about something that *everyone* does, right? RIGHT??? LOL!

    I guess you could say “tooting” is one of my lesser-known musical talents. ;-)

  16. LindaB

    Oh my, Thelma! We are tettering on the brink of trouble here! But it’s not our fault! Tori left us unsupervised! When she comes back, I’m blaming it all on YOU! LOL (Don’t worry, she won’t believe me!)

  17. LindaB

    Hey! Actually, Tori started it with her comment, “why-yes-apparently-I-AM-turning-into-an-old-fart confession”!!! I’m not saying anymore.

  18. Phyllis R

    Ok Thelma and Linda…you two are going to make me have a leaky valve from laughing so much. I can’t WAIT until Tori gets back and reads these…she is going to be ROFL.


    Well, I think I have behaved myself, (for once!), other than having to get new password. Have had the best day, and going to have a better evening shared w/ my daughter! And, I am all for those screen-saver aquariums! Talk about low maintenance! Yeah, Baby! I am even considering artificial ferns for my screened in front porch!

    I can’t wait for pics from New Orleans, I am just about bitig my lip over it! Wonder if it there wil be anything left upon their return? Tori and Gang might be worse than Katrina!

    Grits – wonder where you are? Going to see some old, old friends of mine this evening, The Chairmen of the Board, known ‘em for 30 years. Haven’t seen them since my metamorphosis! (even though we email twice a week). I always assume that anyone from the Carolinas loves beach music. Just wondering, Johnnie

  20. Barbara M. Lloyd

    DELIVEREDJEPARKER63, I’m in South Carolina, and I like Beach music….I like all kinds of music…..but I like Russ Taff music best.

    Thelma, our Linda doesn’t need any encouragement….she’s put together that way. I can’t remember how it went, but she has been known to pan-fry her kids’ pets….and they weren’t fish. Tell us about it, Linda.

    Tori, my suggestion on fish names: Bill, Gloria and Baby. (Gee, I hope that doesn’t start any rumors…nah, your readers are too smart for that)

  21. GRITSinNC

    DELIVEREDJEPARKER63, I’m in sorta central NC…about 40 miles from Raleigh, which is my hometown. Yes, I was partial to beach music in my younger days, and I still prefer it (and Do-Wop) to most of the other non-Christian music out there. I’m not much of a shagger though…always too self-conscious. The Tomlinson guy who started the Embers lived across the street from me when they just started out and my children were pre-school age. They’d be out playing in the yard (street?) and I’d hear him turn the corner, usually pulling the trailer of musical instruments, and run out and grab my children. :o)

    Enjoy yourself tonight but behave if you can do both at the same time. Where are you seeing the guys?


    GRITSinNC:They performed at the Downtown Live in Rocky Mount. I behaved myelf well! It was the first time ever that I listened to them w/out a cigareete in one hand, and a beer in another! Was a different experince seeing them! They might have sounde better while intoxicated! Was so good to tell them how the Holy Ghost blasted me out of my socks and delivered me from all of those bondages – they sure were used to the old “Johnie”! Since the gig was an outdoor public gig, (as opposed to a night club) I was able to spend time w/ them w/out as many demons flying around!

    Thanks for asking! Well, I guess that I could tell Tori that I have been crazy about her husabnd’s music for about 30 years as well, that’s how I found her blog site! I grew up on Gaither stuff, but remember Russ from the Imperials. Used to love Higher Power & Trumpet of Jesus! Outta here for now! Love, Johnnie

  23. Rutland95

    Tori –

    I haven’t checked my favorite blogs in about a month due to a 10 days hospitalization & surgery. So, now that I’m feeling some better, I’ve been enjoying catching up on your blogs. How was your trip to New Orleans? Did you enjoy some beignets from Cafe du Monde? One of my favorite places to go when I’m down there. So much so that I recently ordered their beignet mix & coffee and had it shipped to my house. I’ll keep this short and sweet, but wanted you to know I’m glad to be catching up again in the blog world.

    Many blessings to you and your family…hope you enjoy your summer and get some RELAXATION time in as well!

    Blessings – Melanie

  24. jonny

    Surgery?? I hope nothing serious! Still hoping to test, try out your “malted” recipe someday! = )

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