Dear Carnival Fish,
I am saddened by the purpose of your existence. You are bred by the masses to be taken home in little plastic baggies for the child winner to 'ooh' and 'aah' for a day. Then a grown-up must take over your well-being while you are still alive. And that grown up is I.
Dear Daughter won two such goldfish at a recent carnival. Because I was volunteering as a face painter, I wasn't around to stop the kids from playing the game whose prizes are goldfish. When I saw DD with her two baggies of fish, one of which she later gave to Dear Son, my heart sank.
I have never been successful at keeping goldfish. I tried, twice, before I had kids. The first attempt was when the teacher next-door at my school gave me her goldfish to keep in my science classroom near the end of the school year. When summer came, I took it home. I did my research, bought all the necessary equipment, and did my weekly water changes. So among fish keepers, there's something called a nitrogen cycle, wherein the fish waste becomes toxic to the fish until beneficial bacteria builds up in the tank to metabolize the toxins. Until that happens, the fish are always in danger from toxic buildup.
The goldfish did not last more than a few months in my new tank. Unyielding to my defeat, I bought two more goldfish for my empty tank. This time, even more research taught me to "cycle the tank" by building up the beneficial bacteria with ammonia first before introducing the fish. I had all sorts water-testing kits to make sure the tank was ready for my fish. I kept the water at optimal condition (according to my kits), but this pair didn't last more than a few months, either. Sadly, I took down the tank, swore off goldfish, and had my babies. Luckily, I knew a thing or two about raising kids.
Three years ago, we came across some vendors at a Chinatown street fair who were selling baby turtles. DD begged for one. Of course, DH happily agreed to buy a $5 turtle for his princess. I really should have nipped that in the bud. The turtle was no more than one inch wide, active and happy in his little plastic container. I, on the other hand, had a lot of work to do. Research. Shopping. Set-up.
It turns out that selling turtles that were less than 4 inches big was illegal. We just bought an illegal turtle. It turns out that turtles can carry salmonella. So only
I'm a softie. I cannot help it. Having any live animal in my home means that I must do my darnedest to keep it alive and well. But I knew that our carnival goldfish were not going to stay alive, and that's why I brought them home with a very heavy heart. The only container we had at home suitable for keeping these goldfish was a very large vase, i.e. a very small place with no filter for two goldfish to live. I had already given away all my goldfish keeping equipment, and there was no way I would go out and repurchase them for fish I knew I was going to
This morning (2.5 weeks later), Fish #1 went to Fish Heaven. DS cried, because it was his fish. It's possible Fish #2 will live a little longer, but probably not by much. (If there are any goldfish keepers/lovers reading this, I really do apologize).
So I need to have the discussion with DH
I can only wish that fish were not bred for carnival games, but that industry is alive and well and has no "heart" in sight. We won't have anymore goldfish at home, if I can help it. So Fish #1, I hope you are feeling better now in Fish Heaven. Your vase-mate may be at your side again, soon.