Goldfish shopping trouble

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There once was a time in America when acquiring a goldfish was a simple process. You would get a bowl, fill it with water, buy a fish and put it inside and live happily ever after, at least as long as the fish lived, which was usually a month of so.

My, how times have changed.

Two years ago, we purchased Sutton a betta fish, whom we named Alpha. Alpha was a good fish, swimming in his small tank for a little more than two years. A few weeks ago, Alpha gave up the ghost, so to speak, and swam off to that big pond in the sky. Sutton loved her fish and wanted another one.

“Maybe a goldfish would be a good option,” I told Greg. “They are pretty active and maybe he wouldn’t hide in the plants all the time like Alpha.”

We went to the pet store and Sutton picked out two fish – one black and one gold. At less than 25-cents each, we didn’t mind the double-fish purchase at all.

“We’ll take those two,” I told the sales lady.

“What size tank do you have?”

Tank? Size? I don’t know. I’ve never measured.

“It’s about that size,” I said, pointing to a nearby tank.

The sales lady shook her head.

“You have to have at least a five gallon tank for a goldfish and even larger if you want two,” she said.

“Really?” I replied. “I didn’t realize goldfish were so picky. Seems kind of uppity of them considering they cost 13-cents each.”

We walked over to one of the large tanks that contained what seemed like hundreds of goldfish.

“Seems to me they’d be pretty happy to get out of that tank,” I told the salesperson, “considering if you swim too slow there you get eaten by your brother.”

She was not amused.

Greg and I were left with a decision. To goldfish or not to goldfish?

“I say we buy about $10 worth and let the strongest survive,” was Greg’s suggestion.

“Maybe we just buy a snail. They don’t seem to care near as much about their surroundings,” was mine.

In the end, we bought another betta, whom we named Chi. Chi seems like a perfectly nice fish, though he’s already started hiding in the plants.

We opted for the betta because we didn’t want to offend the pet shop sales lady or end up turned into the Society for Free Range Goldfish or something like that.

However, here’s a word of advice to the goldfish out there: Lose the attitude and, if you see someone on your tail, you better swim fast. Remember – you had your chance.