Humor Parenting

What Not To Read When Your Child's Fish Tank Has Ich

Here we go again.

To review for those of you who might be late to the party:

We failed Goldfish-101. (So we squished three googly-eyed goldfish into one tiny bowl without a bubbler or filter? What’s your point?)

We failed at Puppy-101. (After two weeks with the puppy formerly-known-as-Mojo, Rubie now resides with my husband’s brother and my sister-in-law.)

We failed at Kitty-101. (Right at the three-week point, just as we had all fallen sufficiently in love with him, our fabulous polydactyl cat’s dander caused my husband’s allergies to go haywire, so Hemingway had to go back to Habitat for Cats.)

That was a heart-breaker.

The other night, I was informed that every one of Monkey’s brand new tropical fish – in his brand new tank is either dead or contaminated with something called Ichthyophthirius or Ich.

I don’t know; it’s some kind of parasite or something.


I’ve said this before, but no one seems to want to listen to me.

The Lord clearly does not want us to have pets.

We are great with houseplants and lawn maintenance.

My husband can grow a mean tomato.

But pets?

Not so much.

So while Husband was feverishly Googling “How to make Ich Disappear,” Monkey was a little mopey.

He had dared to name his fish, so he was more than a little bummed about Hoodie and Mad, Derpy and Silverstein and The Something Brothers.

I went to his bedroom to console him, and offered to read him a book,

He wanted something short.

Something light.

I picked this.

“Really mom?” Monkey said, “A book about animals with spots?”

In hindsight, perhaps not the most sensitive selection.

Returning the book to his shelf, I grabbed another.

I hardly looked at it.

Hubby came upstairs then and adjusted the temperature in the tank to 86 degrees.

He announced that Ich can be killed if you increase the temperature, but that the tank would need treatment too.

You know, because the parasite is all over everything. The rocks, the plants.

I hate parasites. How they get all over everything like that. They are so nervy.

Anyway, Hubby saw the book I was preparing to read.

Excellent choice,” he said, “One Fish, Two fish, Red fish, Dead Fish.”

We all laughed.

Because pathos can be funny.

Especially when it rhymes.

Hubby and I smooched our son and told him we’d work on things in the morning.

Meanwhile, I ran downstairs and hopped onto Facebook to discuss the issue.

My friend Melissa reminded me of those dog collars they used to have at fairs.

You know, the ones that have a little harness and make it look like you are walking a dog?

Only there isn’t a dog.

Because that is what we need.

An invisible pet.

And to the person who joked that we need to get a pet rock?

We had one.

His name was Rocky.

We lost him.

(Which reminds me, we failed at cyber pet ownership, too.)

Yeah, I am pretty sure we are at invisible.

Can you think of other things that would be insensitive (read: really funny) to sing/read/watch/do when your kid has a fish tank contaminated by a funky parasite?

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33 thoughts on “What Not To Read When Your Child's Fish Tank Has Ich

      1. Julie, you will not believe me — but we did! We went out for sushi today. And I just kept thinking, I have to tell Jules! I had raw salmon and raw tuna. He seemed unfazed, probably since we weren’t eating tetras.

    1. Actually, there was another Cosby episode where Rudy pet-sits a hamster for her friend Carolyn. The girls had to beg Cliff because he has a no-pets family policy. (We find out later in the episode that it’s because Cliff, as a boy, had a pet bird that he accidentally sat on. It hadn’t died, but it never forgave him!) He gives in to Rudy and Carolyn since it’s just for one night. Doesn’t the hamster get sick in the middle of the night? Cliff takes it to a 24-hr veterinary clinic (really? for a hamster??), and of course, the hamster dies there. He goes to a pet store first thing the next morning to buy a replacement. Of course, Carolyn knows immediately that it isn’t her hamster, and realizes that hers had died while in the Huxtable’s care. She then tells Cliff and Rudy that her previous 2 hamsters had also died while in someone else’s care, and each time, the sitter had purchased a new hamster to cover it up. As it turned out, Carolyn really wasn’t that upset about the hamster dying. As she says, “that’s the circle of life!”

      1. I loved The Cosby Show. That’s a pretty darn good summary of the episode. Sometimes kids understand things a lot better than adults do. Monkey was mostly upset at all the work that had gone into setting up the tank and now it has to all be undone.

        He might have realized it’s not a good idea to name fish until they have been in the tank for a few weeks. Or months.

    1. I didn’t want a puppy. I was told that EVERYONE would help with the puppy. After two weeks of picking up poopsicles and cleaning up piss while everyone else took their meals in other rooms, I realized NO-ONE was helping.

      I later learned from friends that the person who stays at home the most is usually the person who takes care of the dog. Well, that wasn’t going to work.

      Don’t worry, Rubie lives in Taj Mahal now. Seriously. She has a sister Roxie — and lots of friends.

  1. I have been through that whole “Ich” process a million times as a kid. They can be cured with some chemicals and temp changes. Good luck! As for pets, you need to get goats… it’s almost impossible to kill a goat!

    1. In about a month we’ll give the fish another try, but we are not going to PetSmart. We found a private fish dealer who works out of this creepy basement, but he quarantines his fish to make sure they are all healthy before he introduces them into the general population. This dude is serious.

      Alas, the only animal I would ever want is a horse.

    1. Oh yeah, Eric! A Fish Out of Water! Where that kid overfeeds his goldfish (despite numerous warnings not to do so) and the fish ends up in the town pool and Mr. So & so comes and they both disappear under the water and suddenly the fish is really small again.

      I always wondered what that guy did down there.

      Great link: “Fish Stew”! Outstanding!

  2. I grew up having a fish tank. I still have fish dreams where I have to take care of a huge tank and I haven’t fed the fish in a long time. Anxiety dream????
    I remember Ick! No fun at all…
    Hilarious post!

    1. If we ever get to consistently feeding, I’ll let you know. These tropical fish only need like 10 little teeny tiny pellets. I have learned that their stomachs are the size of their eyes. So…

      So you had Ick too, back in the day?

      Yeah, it was hard to watch every body’s swim bladders explode. Or whatever happens to them.

  3. I see you haven’t tried birds. That would be a great addition to your Fail-Zoo. We had love birds that procreated like mad, but the female went psycho and tried to peck off all the males toes (lovebird blood everywhere). Birds will bring a certain memorable madness to your menagerie and soon you’ll have another blog topic. 😉 You could also try frogs – I wrote about that on my blog (not as pets though).

    1. Get off my back, #4. We are not getting birds. Aren’t you supposed to be writing a blog entry? 😉 I was warned by a friend to never get frogs. She says they croak all night long and she has to feed them, something yucky… I can’t remember. Crickets, maybe.

      We’re at dormant fish tank, but we’ll be back.

      Even if we just get a few hearty goldfish, we’ll be back.

  4. Oh my word. so many one liners in here I want to memorize it. “Because pathos can be funny. Especially when it rhymes.” ha! This is my favorite post of the week. I LOVE it! =D

    1. Hi Ellie:

      Thank you. I wish I was not true.

      I loved your post about stories you didn’t read in the Bible. I was laughing in the grocery line. There are so many weird stories. I’ll have to write about what my son’s Torah portion is about — you know, once we decipher it — but it’s weird. He’ll love it though because it involves math. And random destruction of tents. 😉

  5. Well, if you need a Cosby fish funeral, you can always quote Finding Nemo: “All drains lead to the ocean.” Good luck!

    Oh Yeah….and to paraphrase: “Fish are friends, not food. Except on sushi night.”

  6. You are fearless. I am impressed that you tried the fish tank after all of these. My vote is for snakes. I think they’re neat. My sister used to, a long long time ago, have roommates (think: 19-year old girls who could barely take care of themselves) with a baby python named Murphy. He kind of roamed. He tended to pop out of the cabinets at you when you were going for a glass or something. But when you sat down on the couch he came up to wrap around your arm. To get warm.

  7. I know this post is a few days old, but I had to share….

    A few years ago, having just finished graduate school, I started my first job as Director of Lifelong Learning at a congregation. During the summer, I met with the high holy day youth committee who would help me in planning and implementing the youth programs on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

    During our meeting we talked about a new idea (one that I was very excited about.) We wanted to teach the kids about Tashlich (the ceremony between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when Jews symbolically put their sins onto bread and then throw that bread into the water.) Although traditionally it is required to do this in naturally running water, if that is unavailable, it is apparently ok to use a fish tank (with fish) for that purpose.

    After a lot of debate over the health of the fish, we decided to try it out. We decided to set up four fish tanks and as each group of 10-15 kids (K4-2nd grade) came through the station, they would learn about Tashlich and then throw their “sins” into the water. We would then move the fish tanks into the classrooms so each class would have pet fish for the rest of the year. Even better, one of the members of the committee owned a pet store and donated everything; the tanks, the fish, the food, the filters, the bubble things, the gravel and fish castles…etc. My vision seemed to be falling into place.

    The night before the program I get all the materials, fill up the tanks…etc. I put the fish (in the bags) in the tank for the 12 hours before so they get used to the water and aren’t shocked. I am totally set.

    The kids come and they start the stations. It isn’t long before the volunteer parent who is manning that station starts to see white stuff on the fish. And it is even quicker that they start floating to the top. Between each group, she is running back and forth to the bathroom flushing the fish who have died in the last 25 minutes during the previous groups rotation. Not one fish survived. (And this parent was skillful enough that not one kid noticed that not one fish survived).

    At the time is was traumatic, but we have all looked back at it and laughed! Just thought I would share.

    1. It is my understanding you are actually not supposed to use bread to feed fish or ducks. There is — as with everything in Judaism — a lack of consensus on this one.

      Some rabbi must have done the bread with the fish thing 500 years ago and said, “You know? Maybe next year not so much with the bread.” 😉

      That said, we go to the Erie Canal and throw decaying leaves into the water for Tashlich. Next year, wanna meet at the dock?

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