Friday, April 29, 2016

Fish and fish dreams

Back in January Brad and I decided we didn't have enough chaos in our life. The girls had been asking about getting another pet, so we gave them a choice: They could either get fish or a kitten.

In an unexpected move, the girls chose fish.

So, a couple days before that big blizzard, we bagged a couple of fish – Jovie picked a black Molly and named her Anna and Lily got an orange and black Platy and named her Eliana. 

The joyful day.
When Anna and Eliana survived a week, I decided that Brad and I needed fish, too. So I picked up a sunburst Platy for Brad (he named it D.W. for Darrell Waltrip. Because NASCAR) and I picked out a beautiful golden-finned Molly that I named Kelly Taylor. Because 90210). 

From, left, Eliana, D.W. and Kelly Taylor.

Well, it turns out Kelly Taylor probably should've been named Steve Sanders, not only for the fact that the fish is obnoxious and annoying and pesters poor Anna all day, but also because she is, in fact, a he.

Jovie's fish Anna did not appreciate the ceaseless attention from Kelly Taylor (whose name I stuck with because it makes me giggle). While she did get bigger, she also seemed, well, anxious. You know, as anxious as a fish can seem. I became convinced that she was pregnant because her belly was growing and, well, Kelly Taylor. One day I found her at the bottom of the tank, alive but not really swimming around. Today is the day! I thought. Fish babies!

As it turned out it was a landmark day in our little aquatic realm. But not because Anna was having babies. During one of my many visits to the tank to search for little Molly babies (they're called Fry, according to the internet) I found Anna not moving, and as it turns out, not alive.

Jovie took the news well. Mostly because I told her she could get another fish.

So, I took the girls and one of their friends to the pet store to find Jovie a new fish. She selected another black Molly and named it Anna (we called her new Anna for a while, but Jovie, figuring the memory of Anna I had been honored long enough, decided we could just call her Anna. Interestingly enough, Lily still refers to the little boy who arrived in her classroom part way through the school year New Mason because there was already a Mason in the class. When I suggest that he could just be "Mason" she tells me he has to be New Mason because they already have a regular Mason. So much for self actualization.)

And because I like the idea of a fish that picks up some of the tank maintenance duties we got a Plecostomus (the garbage disposal of aquariums worldwide). I told the girls' little friend that the Pleco could be her fish, but that it'd live at our house (I really like her mom and didn't think it would help our relationship to force her into the weighty responsibility of fish ownership). 

So that's how we got Winter:

Tee hee hee. Sucker.
Brad mentioned that maybe I should stop going to the pet store because our tank wasn't big enough for my new-found love of fish. I promised I wouldn't purchase any more fish (unless, of course, we had any more floaters).

And I kept my promise. 

The problem was, that Anna (i.e. New Anna) didn't know I'd promised that there would be no new fish.

As it turns out, she thought there should be, like, 20 new fish.

New Anna's babies!

It was a very exciting day. Until the internet told me that unless I separated the fry from the other fish, they'd probably be eaten or sucked into the filter and suffer horrific deaths. Something I didn't want the girls to witness. So we collected the babies and sent them back to the pet store.

Correction, we collected most of the babies and sent them back to the pet store. 

Anna wasn't quite finished having babies. So now we have a Pleco, two Platys, two adult Mollies and four baby Mollies. Scratch that, three baby Mollies. I recently discovered that one of the babies – despite months of survival – got sucked into the filter. It was horrific.

So why am I share this fish tale? 

It seems as if they've swum their way into my subconscious. The fish and the fish tank have become symbolic somehow. I know this because I keep having dreams about them.

In the first one, Kelly Taylor and crew kept jumping out of the water. My friend and I had to frantically put them back in. And they'd jump out again.

In the next one, the tank was enormous and contained extra fish and a turtle and shrimp and other critters. But I forgot to clean it. It became algae covered and filthy and I found the turtle, dead floating upside down (do turtles even do that when they dye) and the fish struggling to survive. I felt awful – frantically attempting to clean it while faced with obstacles.

Then last night I had a dream that I was cleaning the tank, trying to suck out one of the dead babies from the bottom but I wasn't paying attention and sucked out all the water, leaving the fish buried in sand (for some reason there was sand, not gravel at the bottom of the tank). I raced to get fresh water for the fish but was stopped by a kid who was either one of my nephews or my brother (when he was a teenager) -- I yelled that he needed to leave me alone because the fish were going to die, but I couldn't get the water fast enough.

I told Brad about the dreams, and he suggested that maybe because the fish are totally dependent on us for their survival in their little closed environment, that my dreams were somehow related to feeling like I'm not meeting the needs of things that are dependent on me. Which feels kind of true.

I told my friend about the dreams and she suggested that the dreams were related to stress. That the fact that I put the other fish in danger by trying to clean out the dead fish somehow meant that I should be focusing less on the dead (or past?) and more on the living (and present). Which also feels true.

They are both very wise I think.

But it could also just be that the fish are in actual peril...

Oh right, we ended up getting a cat, too.

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