A transparent tank of water in which fish and other water creatures and plants are kept.
Just the sound of that explanation of what an aquarium is pretty much puts you to sleep, doesn’t it? A transparent tank of water? Yeah, not too sexy. In which fish and other water creatures and plants are kept? Woo hoo. Can’t you just feel the excitement bubbling up inside of you? Don’t you feel your feet starting to tap away in an eclectic rhythm of happy thoughts? Isn’t it just too much passion to handle for just one day?
Don’t call me a pet-hater, because I’m not one. This isn’t about not liking pets, this is about the kind of pets that really aren’t pets yet we will brainwash ourselves into thinking that they’re pets because we so desperately want to have a pet when in reality we really shouldn’t have a pet (and can’t have one thanks to the lease we signed with our apartment complex manager) so why not buy some Sea Monkees or, oh I don’t know, put some pets in a big glass box and make it the centerpiece of a velvet room with black lights.
Sorry, that was too personal. Let’s get a little more general here.
Fish have to be one of the least interactive pets on the face of the earth. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary describes a pet as “a domestic or tamed animal or bird kept for companionship or pleasure and treated with care or affection.” First of all, there’s nothing in there about fish. NO FISH WHATSOEVER. Fish aren’t pets. But I’m willing to give all those fish/pet lovers a little benefit of the doubt for a second.
With dogs and cats and birds and bunnies and guinea pigs and eagles and monkeys and what not — you can domesticate them (per the Oxford Dictionary) and you can keep them for companionship (per the Oxford Dictionary) and you can get pleasure from the affection they show you.
You might as well turn on that HD Net channel that airs every morning and shows you really clear moving images of streams and underwater sea life or hook up your fish tank screensaver on your computer to a big screen so you can watch the fish bubble around inside of a faux-tank instead. And here’s a plus: in that situation, you don’t have to manually feed them food for them to survive. That’s right, no dirty tanks, the fish always look vibrant and colorful and there’s never a worry about them becoming infected with the avian-flu of the underwater aquarium world…ick.
But do you really need to waste your time buying fish and setting up the aquarium and making sure the chemicals and pH balance is good to go and then find a huge base to put the aquarium on and then shine the line from above down onto the tank like a spotlight and then stare at it and stare at it and force everyone who comes into your house to stare at it also and force them to say things like, “Wow, great fish” over and over again?
Fish aren’t pets. And the insane cost of aquariums are sucking you people dry.
If you could take the fish out and play with them (scooping them out with little nets so you can clean their tanks doesn’t count) or go to the water park together (flushing them down the toilet when they die because you forgot to feed them doesn’t count) or poke eachother in a joking/ribbing way (your 3 year old cousin poking them with a fork through the open top of the tank that you forgot to close doesn’t count) then maybe I would delete this entire post altogether.
But I can’t. And I won’t.
Because fish belong in the sea. Where they were born. Where they can run free with Nemo and those really cool current surfing sea turtles. Where they can avoid Jaws and Orca and embrace the love of their too-close-for-comfort barnacles while sucking up food whenever they feel the need. They’re free down there, people. They’re passionate about the entire sea floor. Oh, there’s so much for them to do and see — it’s really the life of Kings and crabs.
But in your dirty, crappy, stupid little aquarium — sitting right next to that broken floor heater and those empty boxes of pizza and those crusty old flake-like plastic containers of food…there’s no life to be had in there.
God, it’s actually really sad if you think about it.
At least puppies get to romp and run and crap wherever they want. At least birds can flap flap flap their regal wings and reach lofty heights none of us ever could! At least mice and rodents burrow holes into our beautiful drywall and escape down into the valleys below. At least parrots can hold elaborate conversations with us and at least cats can roam the countryside and do whatever the hell they want to do since they’re better than all of us anyway.
I think it’s time to put your own self-importance and the self-importance of that aquarium of yours aside and do something human for once in your life by setting those little creatures free.
Don’t you think?