Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Fish Tale

Almost everyone has a hobby. Some are simple; others are quite elaborate. But unless you have to hold down two or three jobs to make ends meet, you probably have a hobby of some kind.

When I was a teen, I had two hobbies. One was recording weather observations and writing about weather for the Edinburgh Daily Courier. The other was tropical fish.

It is in my personality to go all out with whatever my interest-du-jour is. But meteorology and tropical fish held my interest longer than most of my teenage interests. And, so, I had to put all my effort into whichever one I was interested most in at the time.

At one point, I had about half a dozen separate aquariums set up. I spent hours reading about tropical fish and how they live and breed. I tried my hand at breeding a few species, but was never very successful except for with the guppies. They pretty much did it on their own.

At one point, for a few months, I even sold tropical fish. I set up a fish store right in our home. My parents didn’t seem to mind. They supported most of my efforts. I guess they figured it was better than going out and getting into trouble.

It was my first venture into capitalism. I had to get a permit from the state to collect sales taxes. My first tax revenue check I sent in was for a tad over a dollar. But it got a little better after that.

My inventory was small but varied. I had a large black shark that looked for the world like a Blue River catfish. I also had an array of smaller scavengers, some egg-layers, and the guppies.

At one point I decided I wanted to build my own tank. I got the glass and some aquarium cement and put together a 15-gallon tank whose end glass sides were too long, so they stuck out the back about an inch. But it held water.

One of the things I remember about aquariums is the steady hum of the air pump. If the pump didn’t set flush on the table, it would start vibrating, which was perpetually annoying.

They’ve got it worked out with today’s systems, though, as I found out when I purchased an aquarium set recently. My daughter decided she wanted an aquarium. She’s a little older than I was in my tropical fish heyday, but I thought an aquarium would add to our d├ęcor, so we went over to Wal-Mart and picked out a modest setup.

The pump hangs over the side of the tank and makes no noise at all. It doesn’t pump air, but water. The water pump filters back in my day were bulky and expensive. Today’s models are smaller and reasonably priced.

We haven’t added the fish to the tank yet. The water is still adjusting. It’s unlikely my daughter will make a full-fledged hobby out of it. She already has hobbies. But her desire to keep tropical fish brought back some fond memories of my youth.

I don’t know how she feels about recording the weather, though. I would guess she’s not at all interested.

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