Something Fishy

Not that long ago, as a way to motivate our kids to get through their morning and evening chores, we finally relented on the “no pets” standard in the house and settled on… fish. The conversation started with a dog, but given the level of care and responsibility that would inevitably fall to me instead of them, we put the kibosh on that.

Like I said, we settled on fish, and freshwater fish at that. I had kept tanks through high school and college, so as the boys were ramping up their excitement for first the tank, then the decor, and then the fish, I figured this would be another parenting win. I could maintain the facade of infinite wisdom, share my breadth of knowledge, and train the boys to care for the fish. Easy enough, right?

Wrong. Two weeks in and I’ll bet you know exactly who has been pouring the work into the “family” fish tank. Yep, that’s right, me. And I suppose I wouldn’t mind it so much if it were mine. But the fact is that there are three other people in the house with editorial privileges over the whole enterprise, so I’m busting my hump for their, um, aesthetics.

It’s fine, it’s fine. I’m only kvetching because lately the older child has taken a bit of a ‘tude with respect to the fish. When asked if he’d be willing to help me set up the decor, he said, “Nah, you got it.” I bristled but let it go, since he needed to get some work done on a school project (more on that later). But after I put everything in and asked if he thought it looked good, he flipped it on me and asked, “Well, do you think it looks good?”

And bless the younger’s heart, as much as he wants to help, he really can’t. His little arms don’t even reach the bottom of the tank without his shoulder going in. I want him to feel involved, but there’s something about a drowning hazard that makes me feel like, eh, I’ll just take care of it.

Like I said, I’m sure it’ll be fine, but for now…


  • 10 gal rectangular tank (I think it’s average, but my wife thinks it’s too big)
  • White LED lighting (does not get hot)
  • Corner-mount all-in-one filter system (looks great but may be a PITA to maintain)
  • Activated, bio-inclusive substrate (no rinse and helps plant growth)
  • Assorted live plants (to increase oxygen in the water, also manage fish waste)
  • Red LED-lit bubble volcano a la Finding Nemo
  • Small pump

I also picked up a 5-in-1 test strips, assorted chemicals for pH, ammonia, and GH (general hardness of water), and a thermometer.

Giving a week to run and then I’ll check the water and temperature. If all is good, hopefully it’ll get a lot more fun.

Author: brad

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