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I Thought the Tank of Horrors Had Gone Away. Not So Much.

I hate cleaning the fish tank. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

I used to not mind it. I might have even enjoyed it. Sucking out the mucky water is oddly satisfying. Scraping algae off the glass is awarding. Arranging the rocks is sort of like a puzzle. A puzzle in which failure to get the pieces to fit just right will result in a dead fish or two, but still. Kind of fun.

But then I ripped the arms of the big shrimp a few months, and all the fun got sucked out of the project.

It was an accident. Seriously. I moved a rock over a tiny bit because it had started to fall and just like that, there was an avalanche. I knew the shrimp had been in the corner, behind the rock pile, so I tried to move things around and away from it. But, it moved. I ended up dropping a big rock right on top of it. As I tried to un-smoosh it, it suddenly backed up but kinda forgot to take its big pincher arms with it because they were still stuck under the rock.


The arms grew back. Eventually. In the meantime, I swear that shrimp would spend its every waking moment trying to kill me. It would chase me from side to side, waving its stumpy arms at me and making mean faces.

Along the way, it apparently had a conversation with the Maroon Clownfish, Belly. Belly is now out to get me as well. Tonight as I stood carefully peeling hair algae off of some rocks, paying super careful attention to the eight million starfish that suddenly appeared in the tank (and are now also trying to kill me), Belly kept attacking. ATTACKING. She lunged at my gloved hand over and over, trying to rip the yellow protective layer off my hand so she could nibble at my skin.

I am not fish food. I don't take well to nibbling.

Just as I jerked my hand back and swatted at Belly for the eight millionth time, the shrimp suddenly appeared behind my hand. I WAS SURROUNDED.

I pulled my hand out of the water, the only place the killer creatures can't go, and glared at them. Slowly, one at a time, I gave them each the stink eye.

Belly responded by jumping out of the water.

I quit. Somebody else is going to have to clean the fish tank.

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Reader Comments (20)

Ew! This is why my husband's in charge of cleaning if we get more fish.

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEvonne

OMG. I'm dying laughing over here. Can't you get rid of those starfish? Drop rocks on them?

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFlea

I used to love my fish tank. Back when I had Ash and Smoke, Fancy White and Gray Goldfish which had 5 inch bodies. Those 2 were huge. Loved them. They lived for 6 years. Then each of them died. Bf got Amethyst. And she's been around for 6 years. I'm t i r e d of cleaning a 40 gallon tank. I've already said once she passes on, no more fish. Now watch she's going to live longer than I am.

And yes, they do nibble. Smoke got pissed off when I moved and he had to be transported a 1/2 hour to his new home. I have a scar on my wrist from jerking my hand away and nailing it on the edge of the tank. (Hugs)Indigo

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIndigo

Haven't you heard of that spa treatment for your feet where they have these little fish that nibble off the dead skin? Maybe you can do that with Belly... People will pay you money to come to your house and get nibbled.

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbluzdude

@bluzdude--EWWWWWWWW! It's bad enough seeing video of that on TV, but in my house? EWWWWWWWW!

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Baby

Ha! Awesome post. You better watch, they are out to get you! They're even breeding an army of starfish.

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScrumpy Daddy

Heh. I hate cleaning my fish tank, and we just have goldfish.

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterC (Kid Things)

Next time my son says he wants a fish, I'm telling him I'm scared of fish.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter3carnations

Isn't there a market for home-grown starfish somewhere? Because if you don't cut back, those starfish will eventually cover your body if they decide to attack. That won't be pretty.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

And yet another pet-type experiment to rule out: no fish till the kids can clean the tank. I will refer future inquiries to you. Thanks!

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterred pen mama

I am totally creeped out by all of this...thank god I only have cats!

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMsTeb

I'm with Karen on finding a market for the starfish. Offer to trade them to someone if they come clean the tank for you. Just dole them out ten or so at a time and you should be covered for quite a while. As a side note, the more I hear of your tank of horror, the more I love my cichlids.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMirth

@Mirth--I know, right? We have a freshwater tank as well and nothing dramatic ever happens with it.

I checked ebay and not even the Land of Useless had those starfish. Some people consider them a nuisance and kill them off. I've never caught them hurting any coral or anything, so I just leave them alone. I can't seem to murder them intentionally.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Baby

After losing about 10 fish in a row, and having 10 fish funerals in my yard for the girls, I gave up and said "no more." And we didn't even have a tank like yours. We then got a puppy a few short months later. While puppies are lots of work, they sure are more cuddly and more fun to play off. I will take wiping muddy paws and scooping poop any day over cleaning a fish tank.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristi

ha ha. it's a mutiny... Is it normal for starfish to just magically appear?

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Ha ha ha - I linked to you today on my site and this is such a classic post for visitors to find. :) Glad to hear the Fishtank of Horrors is still alive and kicking (or nibbling as the case may be)!

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie in MA

Every time you write about the Fishtank of Horrors, you further my resolve to not have fish in the house unless it's for dinner. So thanks yet again! :-)

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercaramama

Hubby wants so badly to get a fishtank for the kids, and every time he brings it up, I send him a link or two about The Fishtank of Horrors. Where do these things come from (the starfish, the worms, etc.)?! Perhaps putting a picture of a freshs sushi tray just outside of the tank would curb some of the need to dominate from Miss Belly . . .

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFishsticks and Fireflies

ha, I'm glad I have a freshwater tank. The worst that can happen is Big Scary Fish (my algae eater) will decide to try to commit suicide by jumping out of the tank again.

My rainbow neons & zebra fish just beg for food each time I walk past to Alex's crib (the 30gal tank is in his room).

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

i. hate. fish.

January 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthe planet of janet

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