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Alas, Gaston


  1. Humor (part 1 of 4)
    by cowan/ (Darin Cowan) (Wed, 15 Apr 92)

Humor (part 1 of 4)

by cowan/ (Darin Cowan)
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 92
Newsgroup: alt.aquaria

(69)    Wed 15 Apr 92 20:12
By: Doc Logger
To: Bob Cardinali
Re: alas poor Gaston, I knew him well
-at-EID:3c61 188fa190
How Much Would It Have Cost To Outfit a Budgie in Scuba

Day 1: Our new pet  was supposed to be either a budgie, or
another hamster to replace the one that my wife swore wasn't
released in the backyard on purpose... but in any event the
pet store beckoned and our whole family trooped off. The
gods were smiling upon us when the children quickly decided
that a goldfish would be an appropriate pet. The pet store
clerk loaded us up with a small glass bowl, a lifetime
supply of goldfish food and a tiny air pump which seemed to
make horrible buzzing noises. The kids named the goldfish

Day 2: Waiting patiently at the front door for the fish
store to open the next day, I hoped that the kids would
continue to believe that Gaston was merely "resting". In the
process of buying Gaston-2 the clerk allowed that the fish
would probably be much happier in a larger aquarium.

The kids missed the quick exchange of Gaston-1 for Gaston-2
in their excitement at participating in setting up the new
tank. This new tank had a heater, a power filter, and enough
Day-glo tasteless sculptures to outfit an entire Elvis
museum. Gaston-2 appreciated his new surroundings and half a
container of fish food later, the kids were still amused by
how much one goldfish could consume.

Day 4: The trip to the pet store to purchase Gaston-3 met
with even more success when I became aware that the original
Gastons had probably expired from loneliness. When the clerk
explained that my twenty gallon tank could easily support
one inch of fish per gallon I quickly stocked up on an
additional 16 inches of fish.

The Tiger Barbs seemed to enjoy the Angel Fish a great
deal... so much so, that after just one afternoon's nipping
and fin biting I was down to 14 inches of fish with an
additional 4 inches of fishes giving every appearance that
they would not be long on this earth. I was most alarmed by
the pair of Dwarf Gouramis, the male of which appeared to be
in extremis... spending all of it's time frothing bubbles at
the top of the tank.

Day 6: Imagine my relief when the pet store clerk informed
me that the Dwarf Gouramis were merely expressing breeding
symptoms which obviously required the purchase of a new tank
so that they might complete their procreation in peace. I
was painlessly deprived of more money via the magic of my
plastic fantastic. Gaston-4 came home with me that day as
well. (Gaston-3 being so well liked by my two year old that
it had been brought to his bed where it spent the night
among the stuffed bears and a serious lack of oxygen.) Since
I was clearly an accomplished aquarist, it was also
important that I bring home a selection of literature.

Day 8: We were reasonably certain that we had identified no
less than seven fish diseases on our various fish and it was
only after our trip to the pet store to stock up on a
pharmacopia of medicines that the three year confessed to
having dropped "one of two" crayons into the tank. The trip
wasn't a total loss because we did acquire yet another tank
which was to serve as a future quarantine tank. ( Gaston-5,
replaced Gaston-4 -- an unfortunate boating accident in the
bathtub, again compliments of my two year old.)

Day 9: It's hard to truly appreciate how much cornflakes are
actually in a JUMBO ECONO SIZED box until you wake up to
discover that three aquariums are filled with slowly
hardening mush. The two and three year old reluctantly share
joint credit for having fed the fish breakfast. Gaston-5,
alone, miraculously survives leaving behind 14 inches of
fish who ceremoniously are sent off to the great porcelain

Day 16: With 78 gallons spread over three tanks we were
destined to spend months in the pet store making careful
decisions about which 78 inches worth of fish that we would
bring home with us. Fortunately, the clerk who was beginning
to treat us like family, suggested a pair of Rope Fish. At
12 inches and 15 inches respectively, it seemed like an
admirable solution. A half dozen Hatchet Fish accompanied us
home, along with a pair of Ghost Knives.

Day 17: I met a rope fish on my way to the bathroom this
morning and my wife's screaming gave clear evidence that she
had encountered the other one in the kitchen. Catching the
one in the bathroom was easy since it rolled conveniently
onto the bathmat and was returned to the tank with a quite
pleasing fuzzy coating of deep purple wool. The Rope Fish on
the loose in the kitchen was a much more difficult
proposition since it sought refuge first under the fridge
and then under the dishwasher but the two year old was able
to lure it into the open with well timed thrusts of the
Dustbuster. When the second Rope Fish was returned to the
tank we were all sure that it's escape had caused mortal
wounds since it had an enormous lump in it's mid-section ...
but the absence of Gaston-5 from the tank strongly hinted at
another explanation.

Day 19: We were all getting practiced at emergency fish
retrieval when the three year old raised the "Fish
Overboard!" alarm. Unfortunately, the flock of Hatchet Fish
which had taken flight were less hardy than the Rope Fish
and none of them survived. We took a census and discovered
that we were back down to a mere 8 inches of fish (excluding
the chubby Rope Fish) and all agreed that a re-stocking
adventure to the pet store was in order.

Day 21: We learned a little bit about the nitrite cycle when
we awoke to find the fish swimming in jerky circles near the
top of the water. (The Rope Fish had already abandoned the
aquarium through a tiny opening in the light fixture where
they remained until I dissembled the unit much later that
day.) The fish books recommended a "partial water change"
which was easily handled by a siphon ending in a bucket on
the floor. It was only after opening the front door to hear
"Hi, we're the neighbours downstairs and..." that I realized
that a siphon doesn't wait for a two-year's urgent request
to use the potty. After profusely apologizing, and helping
to clean up the mess in the apartment below, I was quite
taken aback by their inability to appreciate that they could
easily have kept about 12 inches of fish on their dining
room table alone.

Gaston-6 gave his life to mitigate the disaster since he was
firmly stuck in the siphon and could not be enticed out with
an offering a semi-digested cookie proffered by my helpful
two year old. Gaston-6 was sent to the porcelain heaven with
full honours along with Rope Fish number one who was
somewhat baked due to it's close proximity to a hot light

Day 32: It was with no small measure of pride that I passed
out cigars at work and stood beaming as I announced that I
was the proud foster father of three baby guppies. This
happy event might have gone unnoticed were it not for the
fact that I *finally* decided to deal with the rich green
algae scum which had begun to obscure the tank. My wife
nearly fainted when she saw the toilet bowl scrubber
disappear into the tank. Now that I have successfully bred
guppies it is obviously time to branch out into more
complicated fish... I shall try breeding Discus tomorrow.

Month 8: My wife swears that "it followed her home" but the
300 gallon tank which bars entry into our dining room is
magnificently appointed. The wet/dry filter system, complete
with protein skimmer, Ozonator, Oxygenator and beer bottle
opener has impressed more than one visitor to our humble
abode. Unfortunately, the entire tank is dominated by one
rather largish Oscar who has been singularly responsible for
the consumption of Gastons 7 through 4,135. We would
consider giving up the Oscar for a more varied collection
were it not for the fact that the other 14 tanks spread
throughout the apartment house a vast collection of fish and
small children's toys. We've had a few set-backs,
particularly the Weather Loach which was purchased with the
pet store assurance that "loaches eat algae". Weather
Loaches certainly eat algae... but they do it several levels
up on the food chain. One Weather Loach was able to consume
an entire tankful of juvenile Bettas which had been born in
the tank.

The Rope Fish hasn't made an escape in months ever since my
wife cunningly glued gravel, plastic plants, and the little
plastic Elvis whose head flips open every minute or so to
the glass cover of the aquarium. The Rope Fish spends his
nights swimming hopefully against the bottom.

The Plecostamus seems happiest when he rests on the back of
the Masters Of Doom plastic figurine which someone "fell"
into the tank. The Zebra Danios actually found that the
waving purple hair of a My Little Pony figurine was a
suitable egg-depositing medium. The Ghost Knifes live in a
Lego castle which sank beneath the waves after a proud three
year old completed construction. The Florida Gar hangs out
in the sunken relic of a Star Wars X-wing fighter.

We created several "natural environment" type tanks and the
one we set up to replicate Lake Erie actually has the
authentic collection of syringes and non-biodegradable
plastic diapers floating on the surface.

The hydro company loves me dearly since the combined
lighting, heating and filtration of the tanks consumes
enough power to put my monthly bill into the triple
digits... and the pet store offers to send a car and driver
for my shopping convenience.

I'm not suggesting that we've become obsessed with the hobby
or anything, despite the fact that the TV is known as the
"tank where nitrite killed the fish" by the children, but
there is a certain rare pleasure in turning off all but the
aquarium lights and watching all the fish for hours at a

 * Origin: Int'l Order of Commando Turtles & Literary Penguins (Opus 
SEEN-BY: 12/12 163/99 106 110 150 262 401

-at-PATH: 163/110 262 99

Darin "Squid" Cowan                  | The Aquarium
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada              | (613) 523-0077  V32bis

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This page was last updated 29 October 1998