Tank Tragedy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It isn't that I can't take care of fish, in fact, I have been very successful in the past. I have two fish right now. One is two years of age and the other is one and a half. They are both healthy and active. Ordinarily, I find great amusement in watching them swim around in the little tank.

One day I was looking into the tank and for the first time I found the fish truly boring to watch. It was more boring than watching paint dry. This was not a customary feeling of mine toward the fish. They just were not as playful as a dog or as entertaining as a bird. I made the decision right then and there that it was time to add a third fish to the tank.

The addition of another fish may not seem like a huge decision, but the last time I added a third fish to the small tank, two of the fish died which made me think twice before doing this again. I decided that I had to try something to liven them up. So the decision was: a third would be added.

As I went to the pet store and studied my choices of fish, one stood out. It was a baby catfish that I was attracted to because of its long whiskers. I needed that catfish and that was what I was going to buy.

As I transported the fish in a plastic bag half full with water from the pet store to my house I felt really happy with my decision. It was a black and white catfish approximately three inches in length with a clear tail you could see right through.

When I got home I transferred the catfish from the bag to the tank by just pouring him in. I watched the way it swam, it was very graceful.

I loved to watch this fish. But, of course, I didn't forget about the other fish, and the catfish didn't seem to either. It seemed to think the whole tank was his, especially all of the food. However, after a few hours they all seemed to get along.

The next day I watched him swim around in what would turn out to be the last day of his short life, although I didn't know this.

The fish had a normal swimming day and some terrible tasting fish food. When I went to bed that night everything was as usual, nothing seemed different, that is, until the next morning.

The next morning I looked in the tank. I saw the original two fish, a large goldfish, and a small fish whose skin I could see through. Immediately I took a quick look for the catfish but I couldn't see it. I looked up, then down, and left and right. It wasn't in the tank! The cover was slightly off, which got me worried. First I looked all around in the tank in fear that it may have leapt out of the slender gap between the overlay and the side of the tank. It was nowhere to be found. Then I gave the tank another speedy glance. I saw a small, thin, white string-like something stretching out from the peak of a seemingly harmless shell which I had found on the sand of South Cape Beach in Mashpee. I had thought this shell would make a great addition to the somewhat plain-looking tank.

When I saw the small outstretch from the shell I could feel my heartbeat come to a brief halt. I was terrified. I didn't touch the shell in fear of what might be inside.

I then gathered my courage and gradually made my hand go towards the snail-shell. I picked it up and looked as far inside as I could, however, I was unable to see anything. I raced down the stairs being sure not to drop the shell. I cracked it open with a hammer over the kitchen sink and what I saw inside that time was the worst experience I ever had.

During the night the presumably curious catfish had made its way into the snail-shell. As it was inside the shell one of its oversized whiskers caught around one part of the shell, down another and through yet another. In other words it was tied in a knot. I stared into the fish's eye as a tear came to mine, mainly because of the suffering the baby fish must have gone through.

I threw out every last piece of that killer snail-shell. I still think about the catfish sometimes while I watch the other fish swim.

I am probably one of the only people with a fish that drowned. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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