My son got a 5.5 gallon fish tank for Christmas – something he had long wished for. The day came to go purchase the lucky inhabitants. My son dutifully put in colored rocks, hooked up the light, put together the filter, let it run for a few hours, and “Voila!” ready for fish!
Our trek to the pet store was actually twofold. One, to acquire the perfect fish for his tank and two, to pick up potty training pads for puppy-size-of-a guinea-pig my mom & dad in-law had UN-preparedly acquired (which is a story in an of itself and will likely be filed under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time).
Anyway, back to my fish story.
Once at the Pet Store, we confidently headed for the fish section and engaged the attendant. However, before we could even start our fish inquiry, we were barraged with questions.
“Has your tank been running for a minimum of two days?”
“Umm, no, more like two hours.”
“Have you treated the water in the tank so the fish don’t get stressed?”
“Do you have thermometer in the tank?”
“Is the water the right temperature for tropical fish?”
“Yeah, probably. The guppies we had in the fish bowl seemed to do fine…well, two out of three anyway.” (In retrospect, I probably should have kept this last tidbit to myself).
“Do you even know how warm it needs to be for Tropical Fish?”
“Do you have a heater in the tank?”
“Have you considered tank décor?”
(ok, she didn’t ask this but I know it was coming!)
I sensed where the inquisition was going and so did my son whose eyes were beginning to well up in disappointment. I offered to him that we could go ahead, get the fish and take our chances. It was at this very moment we discovered we had fallen into the net (ha, fish humor, get it?) of The Fish Nazi – for before my son could even consider my proposal, the Fish Nazi interrupted with…
“OH NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”
“NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”
And that was that. We were loaded up with all the necessary items needed to acquire fish in some distant future and hustled out the door with an unceremonious don’t let the door hit you in the butt.
However, two days later, we dared show our faces again in the Pet Store Fish Republic. But this time, we were prepared. When we arrived, The Fish Nazi was busy terrorizing another customer so we were offered help from The Fish Nazi’s Assistant.
We were informed by The Fish Nazi’s Assistant, for the fish tank size, my son could have 3 “beginner” fish and two shrimp cleaners – any more than that and the fish get “stressed” (Oh yeah? Bring it on Fishies, I’ll show you stress – can you say Christmas shopping in Wal-mart???). However, with The Fish Nazi within earshot, we decided to acquiesce quietly.
Once chosen, we left The Fish Nazi’s Assistant on his own to collect our 3 fish & 2 shrimp into a bag – a mistake as it turned out. For, when we returned for our bag-o-fish & shrimp, The Fish Nazi’s Assistant was having trouble looking us in the eye.
“Ummm, well, you see, I was just told (duh, by The Fish Nazi!) that you can’t have the shrimp until you have had fish in your tank for a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks.”
In other words,
NO SHRIMP FOR YOU!
So for now, my son’s tank has 3 fish and no shrimp as we await the day our tank will be worthy.
The fish, however, seem happy and completely without stress (boy that Valium works wonders).
I, on the other hand… well let’s just say I fear the fish tank experience may also end up under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time.
That is where my story was supposed to end. But, before I could stop being a slacker and finish it, I found myself a few days later back in the Pet Store returning items (a little over zealous on the tank décor).
I couldn’t help it. I had to take a chance. I stealthily crept through the aisles and peeked around the corner at the wall of fish tanks. There, happily scooping up fish for any and all, was your average (but knowledgeable) Pet Store employee without The Fish Nazi or The Fish Nazi’s Assistant anywhere in sight.
So, I explained to the average (but knowledgeable) employee, I wanted for my son’s new 5.5 gallon tank, a cleaner fish or shrimp. She unceremoniously offered me the very fish my son had previously been denied – something about it being an “intermediate” fish and he but a lowly “beginner”. She, however, did not seem concerned.
“I’ll take it”, I said as I quickly looked around for any blindsided sneak attack. (i.e The Fish Nazi jumping out from behind the fish food). Home I went, cleaner fish happily in hand (or, well you know, in the bag).
And with this heavy blow to the reign of The Fish Nazi and let’s just face it, to all Fish Tyranny in general,
My fish story is finally all told out.