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Fish Stories

Carpet Burn

By Gabi

When I was younger (two or three years ago), my sister and I went through this fish tank phase, right? It was the only pet we were allowed to have, there was a store right up the street- Everything seemed to work out good. Now, the thought of the tank we scrounged up gives me nightmares. We had two or three of those little comet goldfish feeders you buy for ten cents, a black tetra, three zebra danios, two of those fish advertised of algae eaters, which I now can't place the true name of, and a male betta. In a tiny, maybe 10 or 15 gallon tank. *shudder* No cycling, no water changes, no heater, nothing except a tiny hanging filter and a lightbulb. I'm amazed these fish survived and thrived the way they did. But they lived... Miraculously.
Now for the point of my story, and the reason I have such a passion for fish as I now do. Out of those three comets, one was a lovely sheen of gray. I promptly claimed 'him' as my own, naming him Nemo after the Nautilus Captain in the Jules Verne novel. Yes, I was 10 and reading Jules Verne. *Has a moment of three cheers for her advanced reading level* No, I'm not self-centered. Not at all. But I digress. ANYWAY. One day, I woke up and scrambled over to the fish to give them their daily dosage of tropical fish flakes. But wait- there was something amiss. Something rotten in the state of... um, the state of Fish Tank. (Pretend that made sense.) Nemo was missing! At first I checked the filter tube, fearing the worst. But I couldn't find the little gray comet anywhere, not even his eyeless corpse. (I'd seen enough dead fish by that time to know.) So then I figured he'd somehow gotten out, seeing as how my sister had a bad habit of leaving the feeding flap propped up. And indeed, there was my beloved Nemo's corpse laying on the carpet. He had a terrible mess of that yucky loose carpet hair all wrapped around him, like a tiny death shroud. Wiping tears from my eyes, I picked him up and rushed to the bathroom to give him a ceremonious funeral down the toilet. But I noticed something... the tiny bundle was moving! Nemo was alive! But not for long if he remained wrapped in that suffocating fiber. I hurriedly got a bowl of water, dropped in a tiny drop of dechlorinator, and dunked Nemo's form into the water. But he didn't swim. The carpet didn't fall off. If I wanted to save Nemo, I'd have to take action. I spent almost an hour hunched over that bowl, painstakingly untangling poor Nemo from carpet of death. Finally, the task was done, and all I could do was put him back in the tank and hope for the best. And the best came. Nemo lived for months afterward, finally succumbing, along with the rest, in the great Little Brother with Chocolate Ice Cream fiasco. But Nemo lives with me forever- I had saved his life. -I- had saved his life. I had a special bond with that little guy, even getting 'kisses' when I dipped my fingers in the tank. Of course, now I realize that those 'kissies' were forages for food. But still, do you realize what an imprint that left on my mind? One day, when I'm a famous ichthyologist discovering breakthrough... um, breakthrough discoveries about fish (I'm not sure what just yet), I'm going to dedicate all my life's work to Cluny, another of my fishy friends, and Nemo- the fish that got me hooked on fish. .