Sunday, May 25, 2008


It's no secret that Michael and I don't take good care of our fishtank. For Michael's first birthday when we were married, I bought him a fishtank and a bunch of cool fish. The coolest of which was an angelfish. The angelfish didn't last a day. Neither did the next three angelfish that we bought. The only fish that could last in our tank were these big silver-dollar fish that weren't very much to look at, and our plecostomus that we named Placasso.
Years went by, and the fishtank became a source of frustration for us. The filters that we bought repeatedly broke after two weeks of use. We went through three or four filters before we just stopped buying them ($20 each, btw).
But as luck would have it, the fish did just fine without the filter! We just made sure to put in water every once in awhile and Placasso took care of the rest. He is a lean mean cleaning machine.
The fish lasted this way for a year and a half, maybe two years. Then Breanne discovered the first death. It was something like this: The fist thing I saw was that big disgusting dead fishy eye floating at an unnaturally diagonal angle in the tank. It's the dead eyes that get me. Michael obviously took care of the rest. But secretly we were relieved: the tank had been frustrating us for so long and we couldn't just flush live fish. And how long are fish supposed to last anyways? 3 years seemed like a good lifespan. Then Death #2 a few weeks later. There went the big silver dollar fish. The two tiny silver fish followed maybe 6 - 9 months later. With each death, a little more guilty relief: soon we can get rid of the tank!!
Except Placasso.
That guy has hung on. Now the only occupant of our tank, our neglect has gotten worse and worse and he just hangs on. The last time we filled the tank I think he was down to a 5 inch water depth. I'd noticed for the last couple of years a trick that he likes to do: he would float upside down on the top of the tank, skimming across the underside of the water, and then swim back down.

Well, a few months after our last two fish were gone, Placasso was floating upside down at the top of the tank again. But his mouth wasn't moving. Nor were any of his limbs. I went up to the tank and was horrified to discover that one of his fins was sticking straight up out of the water! I called Michael, who prepared to do his usual disposal routine, when Placasso flung himself down through the water to hide in a plant at the bottom of the tank. What a dirty trick! I mean, what fish sticks their little fin out of the water and floats upside down not moving!? Placasso.

Next week: again, he's upside down. Not moving. Fin out in the air. Several minutes go by. I'm sure he's dead. I get Michael.

This has happened four or five times now, and each time I'm sure he's dead. And each time when we get near the tank, or touch it, he swims down to hide.
Until this morning.
This morning he was at the top of the tank again, and I think, "Hehe, I'll get the camera and show everyone what a dirty little faker he is. So I snap some photos in a hurry to get him before he swims down.

And after a minute I think, "Wow, he's really holding steady. I wonder if I could set the camera on the tank to get a more steady photo." So I do. He stays still even when the camera softly plunks on the edge of the tank. Strange. So I take a whole bunch of photos so I can get a really good one.

But after looking at him so long, I begin to think that his middle looks a little bloated.
Oh no.
Here I am snapping vengeful photos of him and he could actually be dead. So I decide to do the foolproof test: I tap on the tank.
I tap harder, several times. Not a budge.

So I call Michael, who comes to the tank and does his own inspection.
Definitely dead.
Michael said his tail wasn't curling up like it usually did when he was faking. We both ran up to see my mom for a minute, and I told her how I was relieved to get rid of the tank.
When we came back downstairs, I looked at the tank, but he was gone. He had disappeared! What?
And then I became filled with an indignant rage.
I ran up to the tank, and sure enough, there he is settled in the plants at the bottom, wiggling his little gills, laughing at me.

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