Thursday, January 6, 2011

The most loved fish

The villain

The hero

I just had to record this story for the ages. Anyone reading this will conclude that I am certifiably crazy, but none-the-less, here is is:

A couple years ago we got AJ 2 guppies. They had a normal suburban-fish life, living in a bowl, no worries. Then, as AJ is wont to do, they were forced to entertain various house-guests in the form of wild minnows caught from the local pond. These minnows were not kind to their hosts and before I realized the bullying that was going on, one guppy had been consumed and the second was a sad shadow of himself, having had all of his fins chewed off. Obviously, the animal lover in me reared it's indignant and compassionate head. The minnows were relegated to the outdoor pond, and the poor little finless guppy was waited on hand and foot in his very own new high tech aquarium with perfect guppy settings. So that is how the guppy slowly regrew his fins and health. Yet he seemed to lack his old swimmy vitality. After many, many months I concluded he was lonely.

So, realizing he was pining for company, I rushed to the pet store and brought home two lovely and buxom females. As anyone with aquarium fish knows, you must first float the bag of fish in the aquarium water to let the two bodies of water equalize before releasing the fish into the tank. As I set the bag of fish into the aquarium, my lonely little guppy began the most spastic and erratic of fish movements I have ever seen. I watched transfixed as he repeatedly butted into the bag and performed his crazy dance over and over again for the attention of the ladies who, I must admit, seemed quite enthralled by the weathered and handsome stranger.

As you can probably guess, the moment I released the new fish into the tank there was a swirl of vigorous, shall we say, activity, followed by some very fulfilled looking and radiantly glowingly guppies.

Over the next several days I watched this happy trio ALL the time. I swear the whole house had a content, peaceful vibe flowing from that tank of water. My friends were all forced to listen to the story of my amazing saved-from-the-bring-of-death-hero-guppy-turned-family-man and I am sure they were all considering an intervention ending in me being dragged off to the the insane asylum.

Well, this happy family has done very well for themselves. Over the last year or so they have parented probably 200 offspring who are all living, seemingly quite happily if not a bit crowded-ly, in the same tank. I still watch my special guppy all the time and smile about how his life ended up with his vast brood around him, he certainly was rewarded for his early trials.

Okay, so now begins act two of this aquatic drama. Last summer the kids enjoyed crawfishing. And, as is almost always the case, if AJ can catch it - it becomes a pet. So last summer we gingerly introduced 2 baby crawdads to this very busy aquarium. My secret hope was that they would eat some of the baby guppies before I had to take any drastic measures. But everyone seemed to be living together very peacefully for several months. Only recently has one of the crawdads become much more aggressive. He routinely sits on a certain rock, pincers poised still and deadly until - snap - he goes for a guppy. As with all interesting animal behavior - I can't get enough. I have watched him do this for hours, amazed at his patience and equally amazed at the guppies' uncanny escapes.

This morning, Jack's crawdad was in his usual place, pincers raised, and so I stopped to watch the hunter in action. He grabbed and missed a couple times, and I was just about to head out when - snap! He had one. But, my heart fell into my stomach... I IMMEDIATELY knew for certain that the one out of a hundred fish he had caught was my handsome hero. I grabbed the first long thing I could reach (a hairbrush of all things) and threw open the lid and smacked the crawdad on his big vicious head. In all of the chaos the crawdad fled into his cave and I couldn't find my guppy. I feared he had been dragged into the crawdad's den to be eaten. I know this is crazy, but I felt so sad at that moment. We had been through a lot together! To go through all of the highs and lows of his life only to be snatched and eaten by an enemy I had placed into his home to (hopefully) eat his grandchildren! It was too much!!! But after searching through the 100s of darting fish I saw him hovering in the corner, obviously injured or in shock or dying. I immediately removed the guppies AJ has in another smaller tank (I know it is out of hand) and ever so carefully fished out my guppy and eased him into his own tank to either quietly recover, or die in peace. I left him there as I had to go out to run errands, fully expecting to come home to a little floating corpse. A couple hours later, I got home, dropped the groceries on the table and rushed to the tank to find... a perfectly healthy little guppy swimming around without a care in the world most certainly wondering where on earth his buxom ladies have gone.

And that, my friends, is what I call a happy ending.