Greg and Saturn Get Some Friends

This Saturday had already been set aside as a family day for us, but given Friday's events at Sandy Hook Elementary, the chance to hang out with our two little boys meant much more that usual for my wife and me. The five year old  - we'll call him Connor -- and the three year old -- we'll call him Eamonn -- love a good weekend morning filled with new experiences.  Our two tasks for the day: purchase and set up the Christmas tree, and visit a fish farm to stock the new fish tank.  The tree tradition is exciting without fail, but what really made the day was going fishing.

We like animals in the family.  We have two cats (Ella and Barisha) a dog (Lou, written about elsewhere), and several fish.  It was either fish or a rabbit, and I'm holding out until Easter if I can on the bunny.  As for our fish experiences, we had a fish bowl -- the old school sort -- and, sadly, Connor went through a series of goldfish, all of whom our older son named George.  So there was George One, George Two, then George Three.  After Three passed away, we switches to the more hearty guppy, and settled in nicely for several months with Greg and Saturn.  My wife, who has a knack for picking up things here and there, managed to snag a 20 gallon tank that was being thrown out, scrubbed it out, set it up, and, for a time, Greg and Saturn lived in a spacious setting.  They seemed to enjoy the setup.

But today we were on an adventure not to PetSmart or MegaPets or PetSupermarket, but to the funky, distinctly South Floridian Neighborhood Fish Farm, located right in the middle of the suburbs.  I gather that when the Fish Farm opened for business in 1971, there were no neighbors.  So you get off a generic freeway exit, hit a few lights, turn into a plain looking middle class street, except there's a fish farm there.

The older boy, Connor, threw himself into the choosing of fish completely, and he tagged along with his mother for the whole time.  My wife had a goldfish as a kid, and as adult she kept tidy, well-run tank in her office at work, so they had some serious business to discuss.  Although they were choosing guppies, there were many varieties of millionfish in the open-air tanks.  They also intended to get a plecostomus, which I learned today is a sort of sucker fish that eats tank-stuff and helps keep everything cleaner.  As you can see, part of the fun of keeping fish is in learning the different species and varieties -- sort of like kids do with dinosaurs.  Connor also enjoyed checking out the different types of koi, which he recognized from many of the waterways at Miami Metro Zoo.

The younger boy enjoyed the fish for a time, but became more concerned with racing up and down the lanes between the tanks, hopping from cinder block to cinder block, and checking out the wide selections of puddles and mudholes.  He also enjoyed the oldies station to which the PA system was tuned, as evidences by his dance performance to "Stop! In the Name of Love".  After exactly 30 minutes, just five minutes shy of how long it takes to pick out eight guppies and one plecostomus, Eamonn threw a tantrum and had to spend the rest of the visit in Van Time Out.

Back at the house, I whipped up a batch of PBJ sandwiches and sliced some bananas for Little Men Lunch, while my wife and the boys rearranged the tank with some new plants, an air stone, and let the water temperatures balance out.  This made for the most tension of the day: fishy anticipation and low blood sugar.

During lunch, Connor gave names to all the new guppies: Bubble, Mal, Mattie, Mergred, Mowli, Radenad, Red, and Sally.  The plecostum, he named Big Ray.  So we have a sucker fish named Big Ray.  That's the kind of surprise that awaits you on a day set aside for family adventures. That's all for today, though.  I've got some colored lights to string on the tree.

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