We can now proclaim ourselves to be...........PET OWNERS!
(The defeated opposition? Daddy!)
Oh, yeah! There's no standing up to the three of us when we band together! And so it was on Saturday morning that we walked into PetCo exchanging high 5's and slapping each other on the back. "Show us your bestest fish!" we announced.
I know, fish? But it's a start and the children are delighted. Once we got passed the quite substantial attitude on display from the shop's staff ("You're not planning on putting fish in that tank today, are you?"), we had fun picking out just what we wanted.
Never one to do anything by halves, Jodi had done his research and decided on a 29 gallon aquarium, fresh water, no stand, and yes, we know that you have to give the water 24 hours to get up to temperature before you put the fish in. (You're not planning on selling anything to anyone with that attitude today, are you?) We chose a sunken pirate ship, naturally, and a faux log with plenty of hiding places (I told you we'd done some research!) and plenty of pretend plants so we don't have to deal with too much algae build up (See? See? They didn't employ ALL the smart people in this pet shop!) Jodi selected a tank which came with a filter, heater and thermometer so we just needed some food and, eventually (obviously not right now, as the water won't have had time to heat up) some fish.
We set the tank up in the sun room, not in direct sunlight of course, and filled it with the rinsed gravel, carefully washed ornaments and 'plants' and some of the coldest water I have ever had the misfortune to carry about in a bucket. We took the water from the outside taps meaning it came straight from the well before being messed about with in our complex filter system. I swear it was 6 thousand degrees below freezing outside and snowing, damn it.
The children and I went back to choose the fish on Monday, which had given the water in the tank plenty of time to get up to an electricity draining 75 degrees F. We were greeted by a lovely sales assistant this time, who gave us her very best information about The Right Fish For Us; Yes, you can have 6 fish in that tank but don't buy them all at once, only buy 2 today. No, you can't buy a sucker fish today, you have to let the algae build up first. No, you don't just feed them once a day, go for twice or three times. No, don't choose Tetras they're not as hardy as the Molly or Platy varieties.
So we took a few minutes to have a look and decide which ones we wanted.
A different sales assistant came over when we looked ready. and had her say; Yes, 6 is a good number, of course you can buy them all today! A sucker fish? Sure! Just get some algae pellets so he's definitely got something to snack on. No, strictly once a day only for food! Molly, Platy or Tetra, they'll all do equally well.
We did what anyone would do with a bit of background knowledge and conflicting advice: we believed the bits that suited us best. We bought 5 fish; a pair of Dalmatian Mollies, a pair of Sunset Fire Wag Platy, and a sucker fish, mainly because they are pretty (except the sucker fish, nothing pretty going on there). And they all survived the journey home. Phew!
On Thursday, Meg and I went back to PetCo, not to return any dead fish, they're all still eating and pooping in our tank, but to buy a pair for Meg to have as her own. She chose a pair of tiny orange Sunset Fire Platy and named them both Nippy. They too made it into the tank alive, and seem to be flourishing, along with Spit and Spot, and Falcon and Skywalker. Bet you can't guess which fish belong to Finn?! Ole Suckerooni is still hanging out under the log, we think; he's not very social but he hasn't floated to the top yet either ........
The kids are both fascinated by them, but Finn is particularly pleased. In French lessons, instead of being the only child to say 'Non, je n'ai pas d'animal,' he can now proudly proclaim, 'Oui, J'ai sept poissons!'