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Musings of a Fish Addict

by Nancy Johnson

I have good addictions, and bad ones. The prize for the worst definitely goes to smoking. Bad, bad, bad, bad. My kids give me constant grief. My husband has given up. I don’t smoke in the house, which would be bad for the kids, and of course, the fish.

Fish, now there’s a "good new, bad news" addiction. Fish are good the soul, for the intellect, for keeping the humidity up in the house during the dry season.

Fish are definitely bad for the pocketbook, can be a sore spot in the marriage contract, and consistently keep me from completing fascinating tasks such as laundry and vacuuming. When you have a 125 gallon, a 110 gallon, and six-to-eight smaller grow-out tanks, the Brownie troop, the PTA newsletter-everything suffers. Except me, of course, and the fish. They get two 30 percent to 50 percent water changes a week. The kids were okay last time I checked.

But, certainly the best thing about a fish addiction is the great people you meet with the same affliction. I have started attending the monthly PVAS meetings, and boy are they great. You think you get great deals at the big auctions? Well, you haven’t seen deals until you go to a monthly meeting with its mini-auction.

Are your stressed fishes leaping steadily from your overstuffed tanks? Bring a bag of them to a monthly meeting! Do you want fish that aren’t available in any pet store anywhere? Bring your checkbook!

Be sure you have overdraft protection. It’s saved my bacon many times at fish auctions. Even at the mini-auctions I really go overboard. As soon as the bidding starts, everyone else in the room raises their eyebrows and looks at me. It gets a little embarrassing.

So, tell the family you’re having a night out then very quickly slip out the back door. Check out the next PVAS meeting… you never know what you’ll find!

Pet shop report Another place I meet some great folks is at the pet shops. My two favorites are Wally’s Aquarium in Annandale, Va., and Tropical Fish World in Gaithersburg.

Wally’s is closer to me. His prices are reasonable, and Wally himself is nearly always there. His prize employee is Steve, a friendly, tall, good-looking youngster who has waist-length blonde hair and a fairly good grasp of most fish-keeping issues. I hope he sticks around a while.

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