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.
Now there are 3 left.
3 mutant-incest guppies in a 20 gallon tank.