Mr. Surly and I are the (reluctant) owners of 10 fish. When we first bought our house we were charmed by the beautiful backyard along with its adorable little pond.
It was only during the walk through – 1 day before the closing – that we were handed a plastic container of fish food.
So, instead of just the two of us, it would be just the 12 of us sharing this nice little piece of land and sea.
I’m not a pet person. This is not to say I don’t like pets. In fact, I had a great dog when I was growing up, a pure-bread cockapoo named Barney. Black as coal with a healthy appetite for cheese and chocolate (bad for dogs, I know, but that didn’t stop him from hitting the bowls of still wrapped Hersey’s Kisses at Christmas time, ensuring his now-sparkly poop was very easy to find in the yard), he was smart as can be and one hell of a dog. We all loved him.
As a kid I begged, begged my parents for a pet. Finally one day I cajoled my folks into looking at dogs. (Warning to Parents: Trust me. There’s no such thing at looking at dogs. If you look, you will take one home. It’s inevitable.)
When we got to the breeder, I felt Barney put his little paw on my eight-year-old foot and looked into his sad, hopeful eyes. We looked kind of similar with our skinny, little bodies and long, long legs. We knew right away that he should be a member of the family.
I swore I would take care of him better than anyone in the world. But, as the story often goes, I didn’t. I whined when it was cold outside and he needed a walk. I bitched and moaned when I had to fill his bowl. In other words, I was a typical kid. So, Barney – while he always had a special place in my heart -- quickly became my mom’s pet.
The Barney experience also taught me the most valuable lesson of all: I make a crappy pet owner.
Now, fast forward to the fish.
During the fall as the weather grew colder, I begged, begged Mr. Surly to get rid of the fish. I thought a trip out to sea (read: flush down the toilet) would be cruel. The next best option seemed to be an adoption by a local condo development, which has a nice groundskeeper and well-kept koi pond on premises. (We would even have visitation rights!) However, he wouldn’t hear of it. Mr. Surly had become attached to our little, underwater friends.
So, I relented and we did an abundance of Internet research and several trips to the local Petco. And, by some miracle, the little buggers survived the harsh, New Jersey winter.
Now comes the big challenge: readying the pond for spring.
Tonight we have to:
- Capture the fish using our brand-new net ($15).
- Carefully place them in a similar-temperature holding vessel, in this case a brand-new Home Depot paint bucket ($5.99). (Mr. Surly voted for the bathtub. I figure they can last a ½ an hour in a clean bucket, right?)
- Bail out the putrid-smelling water by hand.
- Carefully scrub out the pond and rocks without tearing the lining.
- Refill the pond with clean, not-too-cold, not-too-hot water.
- Move the now-totally-pissed-off fish to their newly clean pond.
- Drop in a healthy sampling of chemicals (~$25) and fish food ($5.99).
- Go shopping for farookin’ accessories, including a filter ($69.99) and probably a fountain ($39.99).
- Talk to an electrician about putting an outlet by the pond so we can plug all this crap in ($? – I don’t even want to know).