Bully Fish

darla_finding_nemo_by_digitalwideresource-d5ce49kWho knew pet fish could be bullies. And that those bullies could bring several members of our family to tears.

Dang fish.

After a couple of petless years, I caved and decided my boys could get some fish and aquatic frogs. Our last fish tragically died (you can read about that here) but it has been a couple of years so I thought maybe we could handle some new ones.

I promised my boys that once we moved we’d go pick out some pets.

Every morning they practically woke me up before dawn screaming, “Can we go to the pet store?”

It took a few days to find our fish tank and its equipment; meanwhile my boys thought they were going to die waiting. Last Friday we finally got to pick out their new pets.

Each of them picked out an African Dwarf Frog and then my two oldest boys picked out two fish each.

It took forever to choose! And of course we got the most unhelpful employee in the entire pet store. We asked him what fish would be compatible with the frogs. He told us pretty much any of them. But every time they chose one he’d shake his head and tell us that it wouldn’t work with the frogs.

Say what? After being shut down four or five times I was just about ready to whack that worker with a fish net.

They ended up with the most random fish — A black molly, a red swordtail, a zebra-striped tetra and a yellow-finned guppy.

We set all the animals up in the tank and they seemed to be doing great — until the next morning. The small guppy was barely swimming. He looked weak and tired and he wouldn’t eat anything.

By Sunday night he was dead. And it was tragic. My poor five-year-old sobbed and sobbed. Then my oldest cried too as he tried to comfort his devastated brother. The poor fish was floating belly up and gruesomely his tail had been torn off. That cute yellow tail!

Monday after school we headed straight to the pet store with the dead fish in a baggie. Luckily there is a 2-week guarantee and thankfully my son found an even “cooler” guppy to replace the poor first one.

I admit. The new fish was cool. It was yellow and black and had leopard spots on its tail and fins.

But sadly it didn’t make it either. Tuesday morning we found him sucked to the bottom of the filter. My oldest “saved” him by scraping him aside with our fish net but a minute later he was sucked back to it. He saved it from the filter once more but to no avail.

It was horrible. Once again my five-year-old was crying, begging me to save his fish.

I don’t know how to save a fish!? But I saw him kneeling by his bed praying for his fish. What was I supposed to do?

I got an old jar out and put the fish in it alone with some food. I hoped and prayed it would make a rebound but it swam slow circles around the jar while scraping his side across the glass. It didn’t look good.

By the afternoon it too was belly up. And we were pet store bound again for the third time in five days.

Thankfully, this time a different employee helped us. We told her about our two poor guppies and she said it sounded like one of the other fish was picking on the tiny guys – a bully in our tank!

We left the store with a different, larger fish this time. We loved the guppies but they couldn’t fend for themselves against our aggressor. Hopefully our new one can.

Now that the pet store employee mentioned it, I can totally see a bully in our midst. The flat-faced zebra-striped tetra! Shame on him.

He’s the biggest fish in the tank and he thinks that gives him the right to snap at all the others and push them around. He hogs the food and rules the roost. I’m sure he’s the one that ate the yellow guppy’s cute little yellow tail.

I’ve never wanted to slap something more in my entire life. I have to stop myself each time I go near the tank from whipping my hand into the water and smacking his flat finned face. Sometimes I’ll flick the glass where he’s swimming and send him scrambling.

I’m half tempted to set up a picture of Darla, the fish-killing niece on Finding Nemo, as the tank’s background. Maybe she could scare some mean out of him. He’s a bully and he’s got to stop.

I’ve never been more stressed about some silly fish in my entire life. It’s freaking me out. I worry that each day I’ll walk in to find another one dead. Then we’ll have more sorrow followed by another trip to the pet store.

Have you ever taken your kids to the pet store? For us it’s not a quick, easy trip.

Now I’ve just got to figure out how to get our three frogs to start eating before we lose one of them. We’ve tried pellets, flakes and now bloodworms. Hopefully they’ll start snatching up something. Because I don’t want to lose another pet and I definitely don’t want to make another trip to the pet store.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diane Cote
    May 31, 2014 @ 18:12:38

    Tetras should never be in a tank with other fish. They are by nature a fighting fish. Too bad the “knowledgeable” employee didn’t know his fish. They are the pit bull of fish. They like really small tanks to themselves. They are really bullies. They are pretty fish though GL


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