For some reason, in 1968, having an aquarium was a thing. Every damn 10 year old on my block was pining for a fish filled aquarium to show off to their pals. I was no exception to the siren call of the aqueous environment.
My good pal Tom had an aquarium filled with wondrously colorful fishes of every variety. He had angel fishes, neon tetras, a couple of sharks, and one ubiquitous janitor of the sea called a plecostomus.
According to Tom, the one essential fish to have was the plecostomus. If you did not have one, a cascade of catastrophic events would almost certainly result, the least of which would be that you would have to clean your aquarium every 10 minutes. In a worse case scenario, if you did not have a plecostomus, your parents would spy your filthy aquarium and force you to either clean it, or perform a mass genocide death by toilet on your aquarium.
Near the corner of Main and Market, there was the fish store. I don’t remember the name of the store or the owner, but I do remember the wonderful world of multicolored fishes that inhabited that shop. I’d spend hours there with my nose to the aquarium walls, searching out the perfect specimen to adorn my aquarium. Angel fish were the go to choice as they could survive a nuclear strike, as well as a lack of food, fresh water, and oxygen for extended periods. Perfect for a young boy with lots of other things on his busy schedule.
After pointing out the fish of your dreams at the shop, the shop owner would grab his trusty net and scoop your fish into a water filled plastic baggie. On more than one occasion, the fish barely made it home due to the aforementioned short attention span of a 10 year old boy.
Upon arriving home, there were a series of steps that were required to be precisely performed in order to acclimate the new fish into the collective. Most often, these steps were bypassed, again due to the aforementioned short attention span. However, I’ll enumerate them so that future generations of 10 year olds might be enlightened.
First, Turn off the aquarium light so as to create a calm environment for your fish. Second scoop some water from the tank into the plastic bag and then gently ease the bag containing the fish into the aquarium. This was so that the temperature would equalize between the two volumes of water. Finally, wait a few minutes for the temperature to equalize, and then gently net the fish into the tank.
Now, with all of that background information securely secured into your brain, I must now get to the point of this little story. Like Ahab in his quest for Moby Dick, I pined for a certain fish. I had been eyeballing this monster for weeks and had decided that I needed him. He was in a tank all by himself, which should have been a clue, but that did not matter. What was that fish? It was called an Albino Walking Catfish. I mean really, a fish that can walk? Who the hell wouldn’t want such a fish.
So I saved and I saved and finally had enough clammage to be able to afford the object of my dreams. I think I might have even followed the correct procedure in acclimating him into the tank. I eased him into the waters and watched as he gently settled into the gravel in the bottom of the tank. Oh joy! Of day of wonder! I could now die a happy boy, having accomplished my life goal.
Cue sound of Jaws theme.
Next morning, I went to my tank to see that I had a few fish missing. Hmmmm, curious indeed. Where did they go? All seemed calm with the fishes. The Albino Walking Catfish looked exceedingly happy, and did I see a little smile on his face? Nah, I’m imagining things.
By the end of the week, all of the fish were gone, except for the Albino Walking Catfish. The greedy bastard! He had eaten them all. I was left with just the Albino. I continued to feed him the fish food that I had, until one day, I came to the tank and the Albino Walking Catfish was gone. What the? Now it may be that the cat ate him, but I think not since the cat had never shown an interest in the tank.
There is this thing called Occam’s Razor which goes something like – the explanation for something that requires the fewest assumptions is usually the correct one. The simplest explanation is that the aptly named Albino Walking Catfish just walked away. He may be living in a sewer or toilet near you today.
Sasquatch may also be living under your bed.
All content Copyright of Christopher Hammond