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Taking The Piscatorial
by Ian Curtress

I have been a great one for hobbies – could start them and leave them at Will.

Will is a good friend of mine who takes over my hobbies after I’ve done the hard bit, like reading the instructions or getting things out from the stupid packaging.

Anyway, I thought I’d try keeping fish, so visited the local fish shop. They gave it a fancy name, but they had fish stuff.

This fellow came to help me, a nice young man, but we got off on the wrong foot. Didn’t have a sense of humour – all I said was, “I expect you’re from Finland.”

He swallowed his pride, didn’t want to miss a sale, and he asked, "Starting from scratch?"

I suppressed the itch joke and said, “Yes.”

“You’ll need a tank.”

Oh dear! Choked back another joke about a khaki uniform as well.

He tried again. “An aqueduct.”

Now, I know my hearing is temperamental, waxes and wanes, but thought that was what he said. It appears it was aquarium!

We were not doing well when he asked, “What volume?”

This time I weakened and said, "Not too loud, as I don’t wish to annoy the neighbours."

Credit where credit’s due. He did struggle a smile at my rejoinder and said, "Litres. I would suggest a hundred as a minimum."

I offered, "How do I stop it splashing around in the boot on the way home?"

This time he gave as good as he got. "Get your wife to bake you a large sponge."

Showed my admiration.

"You’ll need either substrate or sand for the aquarium bottom."

Substrate, what’s that? So said, "Sand."

"I’d recommend substrate."

I knew he’d say that.

Saw my discomfort and condescendingly said, "A sort of gravel.”

They give gravel a fancy name to charge more.

“Then a filter is required to keep the water pure.”

I thought: If the water is pure enough for me, should be ok for fish. Didn’t say.

"There are several plants you can use...”

"Hold it there. It’s fish I want, not a market garden!"

"You will require plants to help with oxygenation."

I said, "This is getting out of hand. All I wanted were a few fish in a container, alright aquarium." Thought: Well, I’ve come this far...So now the fish.

"Yours being a cold water aquarium,” (don’t ask) “I suggest White Cloud."

Now I might look it, but I’m not gullible. Was this for the fish to hide behind?

"It’s a type of fish, Sir." Tightening of lips. "And at least one catfish. No, Sir, they don’t scratch. A couple of snails are a good idea."

"How much?! I’ll use one from my garden."

"Now, half the water will need changing every 14 days, and we have all the required equipment."

An hour and a half had passed, and I saw him bringing across books on fish-keeping for beginners.

I called out, “Don’t bother; I’ll just take the chips!”