I want an aquarium. Badly. I have wanted an aquarium for years - decades! - but I always hesitated. Where would I put it? What would I do when I went out of town? What if the fish were from another planet and they hypnotized me and sent me on a mission to steal the Hope Diamond? (Because everyone knows intergalactic fish are obsessed with the Hope Diamond.)
Despite these legitimate concerns, a couple of months ago, I finally decided it was time for my aquarium. It would be a goldfish aquarium. I bought a book about goldfish at the pet store. (Pippa and I often stop by the pet store to admire the animals, especially the canines at doggie day care. I was glad to finally engage in a little commerce with a place that gives us so much joy. They should really sell snacks. For people. We're not eating the dog snacks.)
Did you know that if given enough space to thrive, goldfish are actually quite big? So big, that if you have a large 29 gallon aquarium, you should only keep two goldfish? Did you know it's cruel to keep goldfish in a bowl? That goldfish actually live for years and years but when trapped in a bowl, they suffer and sicken and die very premature deaths?
I had no idea! I had goldfish as a child. I don't remember their names, but my brother always named his fish "Frankie." Oh, our poor tortured fish! And then, I had goldfish in college - Chunk and Eloise, and Marty and Doc - oh, my poor goldfish babies! I'm sorry!
(In college, I wrote an op-ed column for the student paper, and one of those columns was about my goldfish. And that post can be read right here. Yes, I have always been lame but I think we all already knew that.)
I decided we would NOT have a goldfish aquarium. Sure, we could have a tank with two fish, but that seems lame. The whole point of a tank is to have little schools of fish darting around, getting up to all sorts of crazy shit. Two goldfish = no crazy shit.
So I bought a book about freshwater aquariums. It is an excellent book. If anyone wants an aquarium, they should read this book first. After reading it, I wanted my aquarium even more.
But not yet.
Here's what I learned about aquariums: if you are going to have one, you have to do it right. You can't half-ass it with a 5 gallon novelty tank with a big replica of the Eiffel Tower and clean the water every few months. You have to get a big rectangular tank, at least 29 gallons, but 50 gal. is much better. Then you need to put that tank on a proper tank stand, because a filled tank is too heavy for a standard bookcase. You have to change the water regularly and frequently to keep your fish as healthy and happy as possible. (I suppose, if you are the sort of person who tortures squirrels and microwaves cats, then you don't need to change the water.) And if you are going to be changing the water regularly, you need to position the tank close to a sink. But the tank does not belong in a kitchen or against an outside wall or near a main door...
Above all, I learned there is nowhere to put a respectable tank in the Cranky Pumpkin household. Except the guest room. Where no one would ever see the fish. Except for overnight guests. Which, in the past year, have included the following: (1) my mother-in-law, and (2) no one else. I suppose my mother-in-law might enjoy the fish, but then again, I don't actually know that. She might hate fish. she might be nursing a secret fish phobia. If I put an aquarium in the guest room, she might stay up all night with a harpoon to guard herself. Or, she might think the aquarium makes an annoying bubbling sound.
Long story short, the aquarium is not happening anytime soon, but I am not giving up the dream. Someday! In the meantime, I may accidentally buy a hamster during one of our frequent pet store trips.