Thursday, January 21, 2010

Control the Exploding Pet Population

Have your fish and snails spayed or neutered

We own a fish tank. And a large fish bowl. And they're out of control. One of my sons asked for "fish" for Christmas. This followed in the tradition of my daughter's asking for gerbils for her birthday. Yes, we have a house full of fish and vermin.

The gerbils, to digress for a moment, are also out of control. My wife bought a very nice cage for our first two - light brown brothers from the same litter. One of them had a crooked tail, which my daughter thought was adorable. Well, it may have been cute, but it was also evidently a sign of severe genetic malfunctions, because within a month or so this particular gerbil was looking scruffy, wasn't eating, and began to stumble all around the cage. I checked for a hidden stash of booze, but I guess that wasn't the problem. He died within a couple of weeks.

My daughter insisted on getting a new gerbil to keep the first "company." This despite warnings everywhere that gerbils from different litters didn't tend to get along. She found a soft, sweet-looking little white gerbil whom she named Frosty and they brought it home to meet Sandy, the surviving brother gerbil. You've seen Gladiator, right? Putting these two in the same box was a bit like that, except with less swordplay and more teeth and fur. So now we own two of those really nice cages I mentioned, and the gerbils probably sit around stewing about how much each of them hates their asshole neighbor. That was money well-spent - the white one turned out to be so skittish that you can't even pick him up without getting bit. There's a gerbil cold war going on in my house.

But our fish get along quite well. Too well, in fact.

It's our first tank, and the fish started out in the aforementioned fish bowl. But apparently the sheer volume of aquatic life my wife bought overwhelmed the natural ecosystem of the bowl. It was so cloudy you couldn't see through it. So the seven little guppies, two big guppies, three one transparent shrimp and two apple snails were relocated to a nice, new, fancy tank that my wife bought, complete with light and filter and little bubble-making doohickey. This tank, I should mention, is also extremely cloudy, but not quite to the same extent as the fish bowl.

So for almost a month we enjoy (I suppose) our lovely little fish tank, watching the fish flit about and wondering whether the shrimp and the snails are friends or enemies when they get close to each other and spar with their wriggly little antennae. Then my wife notices that "I think one of the guppies is getting fat."A week or two later, we have twice as many itty-bitty little guppies swimming around there.

Remember how we ended up with two cages for the gerbils? Well, our original fishbowl has been pressed back into service as the "ladies' dorm," so now we have two of those, also. And the big one's still cloudy. And, lest we forget, some of those new baby guppies are likely to be female, so if we don't find and segregate them, this issue will recur.

I never realized I'd be so happy that the guinea pigs are both girls and are capable of sharing a cage without turning it into a scene from Bloodsport.

Oh yes, and to add to the joy, one of the snails keeps laying clutches of eggs all over the place, so get ready for some added snail fun in coming days.

Anybody wanna buy a fish?

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