First published in the Portsmouth News, Tuesday 14th January, 2014. (Jolly good job my kids don’t read the paper…)
Ours is a family of many pets. Over the past year, the quota of the Lush Family Farm has diminished due to the sad passing of two gerbils, two rabbits, and a cat. However, don’t feel too sorry for us; we are still in receipt of two chickens, two cats, one dog, and with festive thanks to my mother-in-law, six small fish.
The children adore their fish. We set the tanks up as per the instructions, and then waited the recommended time before introducing anything with gills into the water. We then waited before feeding them (the filter needs time to mature, don’t you know) and crossed our parental fingers; a lot of childhood hope was resting on those fins.
And yet, despite careful attention and many google searches involving all things fishy, one of the little blighters decided to up-fin and die. As parents who try to model rules of both honesty and trust with our off-spring, we promptly decided to lie our backsides off and pegged it pronto to a well-known pet store.
Easy, one would think, to replace a fish. Not so. It would appear that unless your tank has been set-up since Millennium Eve, and you are willing to hand over your passport, internet banking details, and inside leg measurement, then you’ll be lucky to emerge with pondweed at best.
My husband removed me from said pet store whilst I was still flinging accusations over my shoulder, (“I see it’s alright for you to keep sixty small sharks in a half gallon tank though…”) and we bought a replacement fishy from another establishment.
Luckily, neither child noticed the difference, for I was dreading their heartbreak. (Here’s hoping they haven’t started reading the paper then.) However, after all the subterfuge, India returned from school on Monday to find one of her fish, Coral, in a state of poorliness.
Her subsequent woe has given rise to previously unknown Mummy Will Fix Fish determination. Thus far, I have been defrosting and shelling frozen peas to feed Coral, cleaning the water, and taking its temperature (the water’s temperature, not the fish, that would prove a step too far), and giving Coral baths in epsom salts.
This is more than I do for my husband. Though in fairness, feeding him shelled peas is unlikely to feature in his Top Ten List of Spousal Pursuits. Keep your fingers crossed for Coral, dear reader; the short-term happiness of India is currently riding on my pea-smeared shoulders.