Monday, June 23, 2008

So much for bold and beautiful

For Father's Day I thought it might be nice to take the boys to the pet store to get Ralph some more fish for his fish tank. He loves his fish, and now that his super-aggressive pacu died, (relative of the piranha; read about how two men were killed by pacus here), he's ready to restock the tank with fish that won't end up as a meal.

He added a couple of tinfoil barbs and a parrot fish so far:

I was thinking we'd get some more colorful fish to add some brightness to the otherwise drab tank. I forgot that I was letting 10-and-12-year-old boys pick out the fish.

The first one we found that was big enough (otherwise the other fish would eat them) was a bichir (pronounced "biker"). This is a prehistoric-looking fish that looks like it's walking on its front fins, as if it were part of the chain of evolution that is emerging from the sea and taking its first steps on land:

Of course the boys thought that was way too cool, so we just had to get it for Dad. As the woman who was helping us was putting the bichir in a bag for us, she mentioned that she also had an eel that would go well in our tank. At just the mention of the word the boys were sold. The woman led us over to the tank where the eel was hiding in a fake log, and fished out this writhing, gray, slimy creature that the boys instantly fell in love with:

At that point, I realized that we weren't going to get any "pretty" fish on this particular foray, so we had the eel bagged up and I hightailed it out of the store before the boys found any more of God's disgusting beautiful creatures to add to our growing ecosystem. [Actually, we only left after I had to buy some fatheads (read: feeder fish for the critters we just bought, as they don't eat plain ol' fish food) and was told that I had to do this about twice a week. Great.]

The great thing about all this, though, was that Ralph was really pleased with the presents. He and the boys spent a good long time gazing at the fish tank that evening and giving me blow by blow details of the new inhabitants eating habits and interactions with the other fish. So even though I don't get a beautiful fish tank, I get an even better sight: boys and their dad spending time together.

Senegal bichir: $14.99
Snowflake eel: $19.99
Fatheads: $3.00 for 30
Boys spending quality time with Dad: priceless

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