A little over a week ago, Will pulled out the big guns at the dinner table. We were at our wits end trying to get Logan to eat. He had hardly eaten anything in days.
“If you eat all your dinner, we’ll go to the pet store and get you a fish.” Will told him. I looked at Will as if he’d lost his mind. “That is, if Mommy will drive.” That was fine, I’d play along. “Sure.” I coolly replied. The kids erupted with excitement. Will looked at me in utter shock. “But you have to eat your dinner; all of it” I reminded them.
Logan practically inhaled the meal. We cleaned up, loaded into the car and made our way to PetSmart. I was a bit overwhelmed by the selection of tanks and bowls. In my mind, Logan was getting a betta or one of those feeder goldfish. In Will’s mind, we were after a communal tank, the biggest we could buy.
An associate made her way over to help. She gave the usual “We recommend 1 gallon of water per inch of fish” spiel then quickly deflated our hopes of getting any fish that night. Apparently, it takes 3 days for the chemicals to adjust. Annoyed, I reminded Will that bettas will survive just about anything. We could simply add a tablet to the water and when it dissolved, the fish could be added to the tank.
We chose a 10 gallon GloTank. Then we chose gravel and plants. Each child was allowed to pick out one decoration for the tank. Kylie chose a pink and purple princess castle while Logan went straight for the Incredible Hulk. A large piece of coral would serve as our center piece. This was not the fish tank I had imagined but the kids were happy and that was all that mattered.
The next morning, Will had decided to name the fish Alpha. “It works on so many levels! Alpha because he’s the first. Alpha Betta.”I nodded in agreement. It was clever. Kylie awoke and we told her the good news. “Daddy named the fish Alpha.” She burst out laughing. “Why is that funny?” I wondered. Then I hear Will dying of laughter. “Erin, Erin you’ve gotta come here. Tell Mommy what you just said” “I said we could call him Alpha Hall.” It was too much. “Alpha Hall it is.” I said.
On Saturday, the kids popped out of bed and without so much as a ‘Good Morning” asked if we were getting the rest of the fish today. “Yep, we’ll go to PetSmart right after lunch.” Will told them. It was the fastest I had ever seen the two of them get ready to head out the door.
Will kept true to his promise and after lunch went to Petsmart. We were immediately drawn to the the Electric Green Tetra. Kylie liked the Red Star Danios. Will chose a Dwarf Gaurami and I picked 2 fancy guppies. We gathered the rest of the supplies and checked out. “I want to name the yellow fish Lemon.” Logan informed us. “I like that.” I said.
I was a little leery of leaving the betta in with the other fish but he did seem fairly timid. He had no interest in the bag of fish floating above him and upon their release, he retreated behind the corral.
Everyone seemed to be getting along just fine. So we began naming them. There was Mango, Lemon, Cupcake, Pinky Pie, Moose and Squirrel. Sadly 2 days later, Cupcake was found dead in the plants. Thankfully, Petsmart has a guarantee so I returned him.
I was about to select a replacement fish when a young associate came to help. I had mentioned our Tetra had been acting like a crackhead since we got home. He was swimming crazed back and forth from each end of the tank. I had not seen him stop once. I told him I thought Lemon needed a buddy. He agreed. As it turns out Tetras are schooling fish and we needed a minimum of 2 more.
The problem was we were already at the limit in our tank. “If it were me, I’d flush everything except the Tetras and the Danios. Get 5 danios and 3 tetras and call it a day” he advised. I was horrified. “That seems so cruel.” I told him. I decided we would just get a bigger tank when the time came.
Our new tetras were named Mellow and Yellow and he was right, Lemon did calm down. The following afternoon however, Pinky Pie was found at the top of the tank completely mutilated. Will was sure Alpha had nothing to do with it but agreed he needed his own bowl to be sure.
Alpha seemed much happier in the vase. He looked great on our mantle. Then Kylie came in. “Is Alpha in time out?” She asked. “Kind of.” I replied. “Why?” She asked. “He killed Cupcake and Pinky Pie.” I told her. She climbed on the couch and promptly scolded the fish. “We do not kill our friends!” She yelled. “That’s bad!” Logan climbed on the couch and began yelling too. The he explained to the fish that he was sorry they yelled at him but killing was bad.” Kylie then asked if she could teach Alpha to be a nicer fish. “That’s not how that works.” I explained. “Bettas are just like people and sometimes, they just need their space.”
The tank has turned out to be a great investment. The kids love taking turns feeding their pets and we love to watch their little mellow dramas unfold. Alpha remains on the mantle seemingly content with his dignified solitude. As for Logan, he hasn’t had any trouble eating his dinner as of late. So it all worked out in the end.