Family Pets

The soft sound of running water pouring slowly into the tank from the filter could be heard as you came down the steps and entered the basement of our duplex.  A rather large aquarium sat at one end of the bar looking even wider than its actual size because of its reflection in the six foot long mirror anchored to the wall behind it. 

My mother was very picky about the pets she allowed in the house.  She only allowed pets that could be contained, did not make noise, did not have fur or feathers, and were not reptiles.  So, we had a large family aquarium.  Once my father broke the no feathers rule and brought home a couple of pastel colored chicks in a box at Easter.  They didn’t last long. 

All of the children (my sister, my brother, and myself) got to choose the fish.  We has angelfish, brightly colored blue and yellow damsel fish, silver fish, and clown fish.  We also had a few algae eaters. We had to have them to help keep the tank clean.  Their round, suction mouths were always stuck to the sides of the tank. 

I often sat behind the bar to study and do my homework.  The sounds from the aquarium were relaxing, and it was nice watching the fish swim around, playfully chasing each other.  Some would hide under the coral or behind stones. 

One day while I was looking in the mirror and singing the definitions to my vocabulary words, I looked over at the aquarium.  The sounds were just as tranquil as usual, but for some reason, things felt strangely off.  Something wasn’t right.  The fish were missing.  Where were they?  They couldn’t all be hiding! 

Then, suddenly I saw him.  He wasn’t small, but he wasn’t big either.  I knew this ugly fish.  My brother had been talking about him ever since we saw the movie.  PIRANHA! 

“Mom!” I shrieked.  “All the fish as gone.” 

It was true.  Only one fish remained in our aquarium that had been so beautiful and full of life.  My brother thought it was hilarious.  For the next week I stayed away from my normal study area.  The aquarium was no longer relaxing.  Instead, it was a source of extreme stress and disgust.  There was no longer a family aquarium; it was his aquarium with his pet piranha. 

Later, he was forced to remove the piranha_ thanks MOM _but the evil fish got its own smaller aquarium which my brother kept in his room.  He fed the malefic fish smaller fish and ground beef.  I never understood why fish that could bite your finger off weren’t on my mother’s NO pet list.  At least I didn’t have to look at it anymore, and once again the aquarium in the basement was beautiful, peaceful, and full of life.  My sister and I refilled it with colorful and uniquely shaped fish.