Everyone, welcome Winston– Winston, everyone.
A few weeks ago, I brought home a Green Spotted Puffer… I was planning to get one at some point. I wasn’t planning on it being a few weeks ago. I was actually trying to maintain a modicum of resolve because although I had purchased the tank, I wanted it to be set up correctly for my new little friend and have time to cycle and all that jazz. Since Puffers are actually brackish water fish and are commonly sold as freshwater, I wanted to see if I could buy one from a saltwater specialty store. Since the pet store I work at, doesn’t sell them at all, the one up the street from us sells them as freshwater and Wal-Mart is just a bad idea. That way, all I’d have to do is make sure the salinity was right and my life would be 10 kabajillion times easier. So here was my plan:
1.) Get the tank set up with brackish water and all the ameneties
2.) Purchase the fish after our trip in May
3.) Do not buy the fish from Wal-Mart
Here’s what I did:
1.) Bought the fish in February
2.) Bought the fish from Wal-Mart
3.) Set the tank up
Ladies and gentlemen– I am a moron.
I had dinner with a few friends that evening and one of them and I decided to wander through Wal-Mart. Seeing as we’re both animal lovers and we work at a pet store, we stopped in the fish section so we could be snobby. Not that it takes a lot to be snobby about Wal-Mart’s fish section. Even someone whose never owned a fish could probably tell they don’t take care of them and most of them are obviously sick. Regardless, we were squawking to each other about the state they were in, when I saw they had Green Spotted Puffers. My friend is aware that I’ve wanted one for a while and that I’ve been researching them– lately, I’ve been the go to girl at work when people have questions about Puffers, because I won’t shut up about the ONE kind of fish I know a lot about now.
Needless to say, my heart broke when I saw the state they were in. There were probably ten Puffers in a small sectioned off portion of their tanks. All of them were pathetic beyond belief, hovering around the tank looking miserable. Most of them had fins bitten to the point of tatters (because Puffers are aggressive and really shouldn’t live with others, unless it’s a very large tank) which is somewhat unavoidable when they’re for sale. Some of them had Ick– Others were bloated from stress and there was one that was stuck to the filter with clamped fins. There was also a handful of flake food floating all over the top of the tank from some haphazard attempt at keeping them alive– but if anyone had actually been trained in their care, they’d know Puffers don’t EAT flake, but are carnivorous. Snails and brine shrimp and bloodworms are preferable, not tropical flake more fit for Guppies (I’m on my high horse, aren’t I?) Not very good signs for a fish’s lifespan. While I was looking at them and telling myself how I would save them all if I could, little Winston came to the front of the tank and eyeballed me. He followed my finger around the tank glass and every time I came near he would swim to the front of the tank to greet me.
It was all over.
My friend didn’t help me all that much, seeing as she knew I’m soft-hearted and a pushover and told me that any life would be better than living at Wal-Mart and Winston (before he was named) was likely to die if he stayed there much longer and I could do so much more for him. So I tackled (not literally) a Wal-Mart employee (who informed me the Ick would clear up in a few days– because you don’t need to treat that *eyeroll*) and had him bag me a fish. Over the course of waiting for my fish I found out the man used to work at a pet store I had purchased a dog from several years ago that went out of business probably 10 or 12 years ago, watched him put almost a gallon of water in the bag and then blow (yes, blow) air INTO the bag with my fish. Even if you don’t know much about science, I’d hope most people would know that when you EXHALE, it’s not oxygen that leaves your lungs but carbon dioxide– Which is not exactly healthy for fish, or– anything that needs air.
When I got home I scrambled to get the tank set up and hoped that his already stressed self would be able to handle a tank that hadn’t been running very long. I always scold people who try to put fish in the tank too soon, especially since working at a pet store and I’ve had a little trouble keeping fish alive in my other tank, so my concerns were valid.
Although I still need to start mixing his brackish water (and switching it for freshwater– one blessed cup at a time) he’s done pretty well. I fed him snails for the first time a few days after I got him and he immediately decided that was all he was going to eat. So now to avoid having to go to work every few days to get him snails (thank heaven they’re free!) I’m attempting to colonize them in an old Betta tank. They’ve started laying eggs, but I’ve lost a lot before being able to feed them to him, so I don’t know how effective it’s going to be.
Anyway, he’s doing quite well. After a round of medication to get rid of any illness, his tail unclamped and I stopped wondering if he was just going to kick it right then and there. Now when I walk in, he’s right there, waiting for me.
So much for sticking to the plan, right?
Oh, did I mention– had someone that’s been bugging us to take in his unwanted baby guppies for the last few weeks. They were threatening to flush them.
Yeah. They came home with me. So much for not having a tank full of guppies.