February 13th, 2012
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In this case, an affinity for all things aquatic has finally caught on with me.
I grew up around hundreds and hundreds of fish and marine life of all kinds, in fresh, brackish, and salt water. My father is more than an avid aquarium hobbyist. He is mildly obsessive-compulsive.
I should really know a lot more about fish, based on this upbringing, but I don't. My mother discouraged his hobby because she found herself a fish widow, eating dinner alone at 9 p.m. because my dad was still cleaning "one more tank" or whatever people with 1,000 gallons of fish tanks do.
I can commit to pets; I've almost always had a cat, dog, mouse, rat, hamster, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle or something around my residence. My commitment to a water animal has been limited to my water garden outside or one solitary fighting fish.
Then, I recently got these Hawaiian red shrimp, opae ula. The tiny red shrimp have captured my interest in a big way, which is surprising even to me. I love sitting down and watching them. I can spend a long time staring at them.
For my viewing pleasure, I wanted to upgrade the experience to a larger tank, where a larger plane of glass and a bigger swimming area would surely increase the enjoyment. My cousin had a 10 gallon tank she was giving away, so I took it.
I discussed this at length with my father, who recommended I go to one of his favorite pet stores for gravel and other decorations. (I could practically hear my mother rolling her eyes in the background.)
Once there, I saw a lot of different sizes of tanks, and they were all pretty affordable, so I selected a more manageable size - a one gallon tank. It's perfect. It's a good step up from the flower vase they current inhabit, but not as huge as a 10 gallon.
Then, I got some gravel and a plastic plant - one that Olivia would approve, as it has a flower on it. Lastly, I took the clerk's recommendation to buy a Japanese moss ball (Cladophora aegagropila) to add to the tank.
This adorable puff ball cost nearly as much as the tank ($10) but he said it cleans out the impurities from the water. When I got home, I dropped it in the vase (this was before I put the tank together) and all the shrimp congregated on it.
My dad was quite excited that I was finally taking up his hobby, so he called over to the store and provided his credit card. At check out time, the clerk handed it all to me and said, "Your dad just paid for it." Cool!
Later that day I showed my parents the goods. "This is really cute," my dad said. "I might have to get one of these and start a shrimp tank, too." Now retired, my dad gave up his indoor tanks, but cultivates five water gardens outside and inside, two big bowls of swordtails and 14 vases of Bettas. And maybe, to my mom's dismay, one starter tank of opae.