Death, Dying and the Void

Male and female guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Male and female guppies (Poecilia reticulata) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been silent for so long, watching the fall of the aquarium with a mournful, unblinking eye.

They started dying off, one tank at a time. (Keep in mind, we only have 2). First Aku, the Shape-Shifting Master of Beta, ate all, and I mean ALL, of the blue neon tetras. It was a slaughterhouse of tiny half-eaten fish corpses stuck in the plastic trees, floating by the filter. And each morning he would continue to swoop past that little Buddha statue with no sense of remorse, no glimpse of compassion.

But Karma would have its day with all his Beta hubris. That last little midnight snack didn’t sit so well with him. He started drooping more than swooping, His fins began to whither into nothingness, Salt, 50% water change, slight temperature raise, but he only dimmed. And then…then he was gone, a light-weight lump of deep blue fish goop. The second tank was down.

We neglected it. The loss was just too great. 2 glorious beauties had met their tomb here, in addition to several Neon pawns. Sodium calcite began to creep across the lid, white residue chunks slipped into the tank, floated around. At least we had the 20 gallon baby. With all those mutant guppy babies, now grown.

I would wake up and rush with unfiltered joy to admire our aquatic skills. Mustard and ketchup tails swished, as females darted around trying to escape the male gaze. Even the incest baby with the crooked spine was pregnant, because in the fish world everyone is equally fuckable. But all was not the Paradise it seemed.

First if was the bottom feeders. They were just…dead. Water tests, multiple changes later, returns, exchanges, new additions, new deaths. We just couldn’t keep em. So I bought a hand held algae scrubber and wiped the glass clean every week. I was committed to these fish! I would be their algae savior, their pleco queen!

It was a peaceful week in August, few casualties, mustard-ketchup dashes across the tank, PERFECT test scores! “Let’s to the fish store!” I said, with dreams of passing on my royal duties. And off we went to introduce a snail to the mix. It was a beautiful black shelled wonder, spiraling, with long dainty antenna-things coming out of its head, an oddly alluring slimy sucking system, and it was surprisingly spry. And it died within an hour.

And then one of the other fish died too. Got the “dropsy,” bloated bellies, uncontrollable floating. Perhaps they’d had it all along. They weren’t pregnant, I hadn’t won the game of evolution, there MAY BE un-fuckable fish!

Nah. I was just being paranoid. It was just that ONE fish. The rest would be OK. Especially my mustard-ketchup lads. They wouldn’t fail me.

And then another fish died.

And then another.

And another.


Now there are 3 left.


3 mutant-incest guppies in a 20 gallon tank.


Ode to Crabby

You dangled from your log

little hairs limp on crustacean legs

upside down

as guppy fry floated by, nibbled carcass

I hoped this was part of a new molt

You’d emerge with new skin, new claw

You’d shake your fiddle arm

Do the moustache mouth twitch

The next day, you drifted to

tank floor

got caught in tree

halfway down




Our Fiddler Crab

Our Fiddler Crab

Wishing Fish Clock

The Goonies

The Goonies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I discovered Kit Williams over a decade ago, long after the Masquerade treasure hunt had concluded. Had I known about the book as a child (and been old enough to understand it at the time) I would have made a Goonies epic journey to find the hidden secrets buried in the English countryside. Alas, I was only a year old when the book was originally published.

Not only is he an amazing painter and downright bizarre storyteller, he also makes sculpture inventions, as I like to call them. The man is clearly talented and knows a thing or two about fish, as it turns out.

Can you find the rabbit?

Can you find the rabbit?

Bunny Mural

Bunny Mural (Photo credit: dwwebber)

English: Kit Williams clock close-up, Regent A...

English: Kit Williams clock close-up, Regent Arcade, Cheltenham Taken at 1500 hours, the face is spinning and the fish is blowing bubbles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Death of a Goldfish, Birth of Fish Nation

One tank was clearly not enough. Originally we bought this 5 gallon friend to put our misplaced goldfish into, as he really never belonged in the community tank. First off, he was WAAAAAAAY bigger than the other fish and I am fairly sure he kept eating our Tetras. Secondly, he was a waste producing machine. If you don’t know this, goldfish are messy. They are the poopers of the fish world. All they do is swim around with long poop vines trailing behind. And if that wasn’t gross enough, once those vines break off, the goldfish almost always tries to eat it. And by try, I mean does.

Sadly, 5 gallons was not enough for the golden monster (a good lesson learned, fancy tailed goldfish need at least 10 gallons per fish) . Within less than a week, he grew some kind of white film over his eye and became quite listless. I tried to move him into this crappy old 10 gallon tank we had, but it was too late. He was so big we had to put him into a box and bury him in the outside trash rather than flush him down the toilet tomb. I’m fairly sure the original move to the new tank is what did him in, along with the tight quarters. Though it’s possible too that the bug spray we used earlier in the week seeped into the tank, in which case I am totally free of blame.

Either way, it’s not really keeping me up at nights.

But after that tragedy, we had an empty 5 gallon tank just sitting around. And so it brings me great pleasure to introduce to you the newest members of our household, Aku the shape shifting Master of Bettas and his Tetra/Snail Posse:




Tester Strips

The mad scientist in me nerds out to these types of things:

Test Strip

I love swishing the flimsy paper strip around in the water and comparing the color charts under a bright light, as if I’m a marine biologist. Maybe my name is Dr. Margie Brown, and I have long wavy brown hair that feathers out at the ends. I’ll use scientifc language with ease. “Oh yes, the nitrite levels do seem a bit higher than usual.” Dr. Margie Brown, Marine Biologist. From upstate New York, just outside of Albany (pronounced Al-bany).

Anywho, despite the strong disaggrement from Dr. Margie Brown, I’ve basically decided that tester strips are a waste of money. I mean, you’re gonna know if your fish tank is failing. The fish will be dead. And guaranteed it’s due to one of 2 things: too many fish or dirty water.

Having a fish tank is a great way to see how clean you really are. And as a writer, it forces me to stay grounded in the real world (at least from time to time). I can always tell how disconnected I’ve become, how far into the written world I’ve delved, by glimpsing my dying plants in the office window or by observing the percentage of cloudiness in the tank. It is both a wonderful and  terrifying reminder.

Ultimately, it’s all about that fine balance, in this case between salty agony and alkaline woe. But at the end of the day if your fish are still swimming around, gills a-flappin, then you should slap yourself on the back and sleep easy in your aquarium successes.

Candy Sushi

Crab Fun

Climbing the Walls

Climbing the Walls

Poor little guy’s lost his grabbing claw. There’s a tiny stub beginning to emerge. He’s been forced to scuffle his moustache mouth against the rocks, sucking crumbs off the tank floor.

Crabby chilling in the purple

Crabby chilling in the purple

Our first crab escaped through a miniscule hole in the lid. He climbed up the filter cord, out of the hole, down the outside of the tank, further down the wooden table leg, across the dining room and living room floors, shimmied under the 1-inch space beneath the hall door, turned right to head down the hall and into my bathroom, and finally found his final resting place on the cold tile floor in front of the tub.

By the time I had discovered him (at 2 in the morning) he had, sadly, passed on to crab heaven.

Our Fiddler Crab

Our Fiddler Crab

Fish Tank Sagas

Ye olde fish tank

Ye olde fish tank

About a year ago, my boyfriend and I got a fish tank. The journey has been an arduous one, to say the least. We have sent many a corpse to its toilet tomb, been startled by escaped crabs in the middle of the night, and have witnessed the birth of mutant fish babies.

I’ll be sharing with you my personal successes and failures (mostly failures) with regards to maintaining a balanced aquarium and take you on some fish related tangents.

Thanks for reading!