Several months ago, a colleague at work sent out an All Staff email offering to give away his aquarium which contained 2 angelfish. There is also a sucker fish who only appears periodically from the jumble of plants on the floor to greedily suck back all the fecal matter generated by the 3 of them. I know – disgusting! Anyway, I had been wanting to get a dog but it turned out my girlfriend is allergic. I also ruled out the option of getting a cat because cats are spawned in the fiery depths of hell. Therefore, although a far cry from a dog, an aquarium seemed to be a good option on the pet front. I also I assumed fish would be little to no maintenance, unlike a dog.
Off I went to my colleague’s office to claim them but another colleague had just beaten me to it. I was disappointed but still wasn’t keen enough on the fish to go out and buy an aquarium with all the gear and crap you need for it – you’d be surprised just how frighteningly expensive all that stuff is. And then, of course, you’ve obviously got to buy a bunch 0f bloody fish to populate the tank. So I just decided I would continue to live pet-less (unless you categorize girlfriends as pets, albeit very high maintenance ones).
However, about 6 weeks ago, the colleague who had claimed the fish came to me and announced she was moving to Australia and so the fish would, once again, be needing a new home. I was delighted and that evening borrowed my girlfriend’s car and headed over to collect the tank. The fish were in a temporary plastic tub because the glass and and all the gravel of the regular tank was back-breakingly heavy, even when completely empty. And, of course, my colleague just had to have a typical Montreal apartment with nice long internal AND external staircases, the latter being encased in a thick layer of ice. In any event, between me, my colleague and her husband, we managed to pile the tanks and paraphernalia, including a table to house the aquarium on, into the car. I didn’t see how the fish could possibly survive, considering it was a 25-minute drive back to my place on a bitterly cold January night where the temperature was about -147 degrees. My colleague’s husband told me that they are very hardy fish but that it was essential, as soon as I got home, to get the heater going in the temporary tub to warm them up.
Naturally, the first thing I did when I got them home was drop the heater, it shattering all over the floor.
“Yep, uh-oh is right,” said my girlfriend, “and the stores are all closed so we can’t go out and get a new one! Um, that black one is lying flat on its side and is barely moving”.
“Shit! Shit! Shit”! I cried, frantically calling my colleague to see what could be done. She told me there was nothing that really could be done beyond wrapping the tub in blankets and putting it by a heater until buying an aquarium heater first thing in the morning. She said it was normal for fish to lie motionless on their sides when in shock but that he should probably make it through the night.
Sure enough he did and, once we got them in the proper tank and got it all set up with the plants, the filter, the heater, etc., he fully revived himself. I make reference to “he” and “himself” because he actually was male. I imaginatively named him Mr. Black. The orange and white one, the female, I imaginatively named Mrs. Orange. As for the sucker fish, my girlfriend said that the way the fish opened his mouth so wide, and sucked so hard you could see the throat muscles vigorously contracting and dilating, was downright sexual. So I decided to call him/her (at the time I didn’t know the sex of that one) Cocksucker.
What transpired over the next couple of weeks is somewhat mystifying seeing as Mr. Black and Mrs. Orange had fallen in love and moved in together 3 years ago, mating several times (but never successfully as Mrs. Orange always charmingly ate all of the eggs of her little babies). Angelfish, even in the wild, are like swans (and totally the opposite of humans) in that they select a mate for life and are monogamous. Nevertheless, within a couple of days, Mrs. Orange began relentlessly chasing Mr. Black all around the tank, biting his fins, head-butting him, preventing him from eating and frequently banishing him to a dark corner at the bottom of the tank. It was like she was SUPER pissed with him. My girlfriend thinks I’m nuts but my theory is that Mr. Black had succumbed to temptation and Mrs. Orange had caught him getting a blow-job from Cocksucker (who I now consider to be female as Mr. Black was heterosexual).
Despite Mr. Black’s indiscreet dalliance with Cocksucker, Mrs. Orange was so brutal to him that we renamed her Bitch. And, of course in time, unable to eat and getting beaten on all day, Mr. Black fell ill. I tried medicating the water, which would temporarily get him back on his shredded fins, but overall, he continued to decline. Finally, we came home and he was literally face-down at the bottom of the tank and barely moving. My girlfriend went online and discovered that if a fish head-butts another fish in the bladder it can cause ‘swim bladder infection’ which wrecks the attacked fish’s balance. It was recommended to quarantine the wounded fish. This we did by putting Mr. Black in a little container close to the surface of the water. Half an hour later he was dead and the toilet bowl became his final resting place.
Over the next few days, I swear to God, through the expression on Bitch’s face when she looked at me through the glass of the tank, she was telling me “yes, I did it. I killed my husband. And I’d do it again- the lying, cheating son-of-a-bitch”. It was so creepy I renamed her Murderess. Nevertheless, it seemed stupid to have such a big aquarium and only have in it Murderess and Cocksucker (who, as I mentioned, only makes rare appearances). I decided not to get another angelfish because I figured if he ever so much as took a sidelong glance at Cocksucker, Murderess would kill him.
So, I went out and bought some fish that are compatible with angelfish. I got 2 gouramis (one male and 1 female), 3 mollies (2 males and a female) and a male swordtail – all different colours. They all seemed to adjust to their new home just fine – with the exception of the swordtail. He seemed morose, didn’t play with the others and, ominously, I sometimes caught him in Mr. Black’s old place of banishment. He didn’t seem sick though so I decided to go out and get him not one, but two, girlfriends. I figured a threesome with 2 chicks would cheer any guy up. When I came back from the pet store, he was dead and the toilet bowl became his final resting place, just like Mr. Black before him. Murderess had killed again. I could tell because she had the same smug expression on her face as she did after killing Mr. Black.
So far, there have been no more murders in my tank but I’m not optimistic it will stay that way. There also appears to be a fair amount of homosexuality going on. I’m certain the two new swordtails are lesbians. They are inseparable and act like star-struck lovers (I guess the male wouldn’t have gotten any pussy even if he hadn’t been murdered). As for the mollies, the males seem way more interested in each other than in the female and often appear to be performing fellatio on each other (perhaps having received professional lessons from Cocksucker).
Anyway, the whole lesson here is that fish ARE NOT LOW MAINTENANCE.
The sad irony is that my girlfriend is moving out and I could have gotten a dog after all – aiiiieeeeee!