There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Pet

It started with tadpoles. Ordinary, run of the mill, free from the pond up the road, tadpoles. They arrived home in a rubbermaid container, or a yogurt container, or something plastic, small and cheap. But the kids wanted to keep the tadpoles, and see them turn into frogs.

This seemed like a reasonable science project, so I went out and got a 5 gallon fish tank (that’s the smallest kind). Tadpoles eat pond slime and occasional bits of lettuce, so these actually were a pretty cheap pet. So far, we were only about $20 in the hole. After several weeks, we noticed that the tadpoles weren’t doing very much, so I had a look around on the internet and discovered that this particular type of frog might stay tadpoles for up to two years. They were kind of boring, and the temperature was dropping, and I wanted them back in the pond while they were still able to get resettled for winter. (Let us just pretend that most tadpoles don’t get eaten, shall we?) But after we sent the tadpoles on their way, we had this fishtank.

See where this is heading?

So, since this is a long and boring story involving increasing levels of minor expenses adding up to a tank that is worth about 20 times what we paid for the fish inside… let us cut to this afternoon. I was on the phone with my mother, and noticed the fishtank, gone! “Where’s the fishtank?” I asked my husband. “Well, there’s a story to that.” “Do we still have fish?” I asked.

“Yup,” he said. “And three-quarters of a fishtank.”

Let us just say that it is not a great idea to set a preschooler up with a fish craft next to a tank with a marble lid. (Cause of the cats. Ask me what happened to the first set of fish.) He gets ideas. Bad ideas. Ideas involving taking a closer look at the actual fish while you’re out of the room. By moving the too heavy marble lid. ‘Nuff said.

So after dinner (and Taekwondo), I set off for town in search of a replacement tank, which was sweetly discounted 50%, but is 4 times the size of the tank I started with. This resulted in two hours of work to set up the tank, including moving several pieces of furniture and nationalizing my son’s desk. By some time tomorrow morning we can get the fish out of the bathtub and into a much nicer environment with a lid that actually was designed for the tank. As a bonus, we get our pastry board back in the kitchen. Maybe I can pretend that makes it a bargain.

In a moment of solidarity, I find myself mentally apologizing to my mother for all the kittens I acquired over the years. And my husband, I guess, since I still haven’t solved my cat addiction.

Now (I murmur while rubbing my hands together in glee) what kinds of new fish should I get to make the tank look a little less empty?

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