Generally, if you want to improve your mental health, a cat or dog is best. But since I already have two lovely/neurotic/deadly cats, I chose to get fish.
Like most awesome things, it was more difficult than it seemed. Last time I had fish, no-one said I needed a filter or a heater or a pH balancer. All I had to do was let water sit for a day before putting it with the fish. And I fed them every so often. Although I had zebra danios both then and now, I apparently now need all those things. So getting fish costs around $200 if you want a choice of more than one or two super-hardy fish. I chose the semi-tropical route, meaning that my fish need to live in an environment between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius. Since this is the year-round temperature of me and any room I’m in, I may not need a heater. I’ll get a thermometer and monitor the tank carefully.
It turns out that photographing fish is difficult, so here’s my best effort:
The male fighting fish is definitely the old man of the tank. Fighting fish are generally introverted, placid types (when they’re not killing each other, but since I only bought one it’s chilled out) who don’t mind having no other fish around. He takes his time investigating, and is smarter than the others (I put a mug in so they could have privacy if they wanted, and he’s the only one who realised you can swim inside it). If he could speak, he’d say: “Hmm. . . *snore*.”
The neon tetras are the nerds, clearly stuck in the 80s and even more perpetually wide-eyed than the other fish. “Are we the ONLY ONES wearing orange?! I hope no-one beats us up. . .”
The zebra danios are the jocks. They spend every waking moment racing around, running into each other and the other fish, and bashing their heads against the glass as they catch sight of their reflections. They stick in a close group, which gives me the thrill of knowing I have a whole school of fish, not just several fish in the same tank. I’ve always loved danios, so I bought three. “What is it? Kill it! Race you! Race you again! Hey what’s that? Kill it!”
Play along at home: Adopt your own pet, or borrow someone else’s (especially if they need a dog or cat sitter, or their dog is bored).
My six fish lack names. . . suggestions welcome!