"Get tropical fish" they said, "it'll help your anxiety" they said.
What no one clarified, was that just after the word help, they were muttering very quietly "greatly increase".
We started out with 9 tropical fish... named after some of our favourite celebrities and fictional characters.
We had 3 neon tetras called Rayna James, Scarlett O'Connor and Juliette Barnes. Three glowlight tetras called Nina Garcia Fashion Editor of Marie Claire Magazine, CFDA Award Winner and top American designer Michael Kors and Heidi Klum. Three White Cloud Minnows called Jean Tannen, Father Chains and Locke Lamora.
Nina Garcia, Fashion Editor of Marie Claire magazine was the first to go... we completely inexplicably found her crispy as a spring roll in the middle of the carpet directly underneath the table the tank is on. How she got out is a total mystery: she would have needed to jump out of the top of the tank; vertically up 2 inches of air between the water level and the lid of the tank. Yes, that's right: lid. She then needed to squeeze herself through a 5mm gap out of the tank, down the 30cm fall, across 2 inches of table, down a 60cm fall, across 30cm of carpet and then died. Adventure fish. Major adventure fish.
Then we went for batch two of fish... We picked up some more neons so that the neons would shoal properly and Scarlett would stop picking on Juliette (so out of character). We grabbed Bucky, Glenn, Deacon Claybourne, Avery Barkley and Will Lexington. We needed a cleaning crew so we got some panda corys and a catfish; the two corys are Mac and Dennis - the catfish is Charlie Kelly. He has Charlie work to do. They all eat shit. We also got a pair of Rams (aggressive and passionate; Ron Swanson and Tammy 2 - interestingly, within minutes of being in the tank the markings on Ron faded showing that Tammy 2 was the dominant one) and a pair of platys; Jed and Abby Bartlett.
This is when the trouble started... The two platys were in their travel bag acclimatising to the water temperature when I noticed a weird squiggle hiding under Charlie Kelly... Abby Bartlett had had a baby! On moving day! What kind of superhero plans to move house on their due date?! This First Lady; that's who.
We quickly got Abby and Jed out of the bag and into the tank and checked what to do; the advice said put the baby in the tank too and if it can find a quiet spot to relax it will. If it won't... well, it didn't.
Baby Taramasalata hit the water and within seconds Heidi Klum swooped in and ate her. I know these supermodels have to starve themselves to look good but surely you've never been that hungry that you can't stop yourself eating the offspring of your new housemates?
Then chaos errupted; babies started spewing forth out of Abby Bartlett and the rest of the tankmates were in their element. Jean Tannen had a fin sticking out of his mouth as he chewed up their second born; Michael Kors ate one when it was still half in/half out of the first lady. Heidi Klum ate at least 6 of them on her own.
Abby Bartlett didn't give a shit; it was like she'd asked herself how best to ingratiate herself into a new tank and thought she'd bring the freshest canapes she could drum up. The other fish (except Mac and Dennis who couldn't care less, and Charlie who is hiding out under a log coming up with a scheme) are going mad - chasing babies round the tank and eating them as quickly as Abby can bust them out. Jed is kind of following Abby around but taking an almighty dump as he does - much more reminiscent of later presidents than his own reign.
Things calmed down after about half an hour, several tears on my part and the total evisceration of all future Zoe Bartletts.
I'm considering writing to the pro-life anti-abortion lobbies to point out to them that they might be focusing on the wrong species when they get cross with humans for dealing with cell clusters they can't care for. Fish are WAY worse; full term cannibalism?! This is not relaxing.
I've had these fish for 3 weeks now and so far witnessed a nursery massacre that wouldn't look out of place on Fox News, and a suicide that only Sherlock Holmes could solve. Bring on the next 3 weeks.