About two weeks ago, my friend Eva gave us her 10-gallon fish tank. The excitement of a fish! After years of telling the kids about scuba diving and showing them pictures of fish in books, they would actually get to see one, up close, everyday.
Now, allow me to admit something.
I don't know nothing 'bout taking care of no fish.
Cats? I got. Dogs? I can manage. Fish? Haven't a clue.
Knowing that I knew nothing, I walked into PetSmart, kids in tow, full of questions. When we left, we had a sunburst wag platy and a ton of instructions. We were told to bring a water sample back in to the store in three to five days. That I did, and was then given a completely different set of instructions than those previously rendered. Hmmmm, I thought, which to follow? Well, they're rather similar, so I'll combine the two.
As of Saturday, we had had Yellowy (the name Bubba picked out for our first fish - I know, the damned thing wasn't yellow at all, more orange) for a week and according to both PetSmart fish department opinions, I was to change out 10% of the water. I followed the instructions, tweaking them based on what the AquaSafe bottle told me to do (Shut up! I always do what the bottle tells me to do! Shampoo bottle, rum bottle, AquaSafe bottle, doesn't matter.). All was well. Yellowy was doing his usual "butt-fin shaking happy-to-see-us dance" and everything was la-di-da.
Then Sunday dawned and Yellowy was obviously sick. He was sluggish and not happy. So, back to PetSmart I drove, where I was told the water's pH was high, add some of this here mystery powder, and no, he wouldn't have changed the water the way I did. Third opinion in place and head spinning, I hauled ass home. I added the mystery powder...
... and the damned fish died. Four hours later, it was nose-down in the gravel with nary a fin wave.
You know, I wouldn't be upset if it was me and the Ty-man with a dead fish and a very finicky cat who sticks his butt in our faces every chance he gets. But my Bubba, who named the fish, and talked to the damned thing every day, hung pictures up on its tank so it would have pretty drawings to look at every day, is frakking heartbroken. This was his first pet. J-man and Miss-Miss liked Yellowy, but they weren't as attached to it as our Bubba and it breaks my heart to see him cry.
So, it's back to the drawing board. I know fish are fragile. I get that it's difficult to keep the little buggars alive, but my almost-five-year-old doesn't know that. He doesn't appreciate his pet fish meeting the innards of a toilet.
I hate that I feel responsible and that one little fish can bring all my fears about death to the surface of my mind.