Do Betta Fish
by Jerry Guarino
Tim was a couple years into
retirement when he discovered Betta fish. Tim
wasnt old, he just made a lot of money in
the tech industry and retired at the age of 35.
He still went out with friends, dated a few
lovelies and socialized with former co-workers,
but he found a lot of free time, especially in
the morning. It was getting boring.
Yes, he retired from
Silicon Valley to the neighborhood with Marley,
the vegan dog, Jeri, the stoned cat, duck, Boston,
the Yankee Doodle, Larry, the white cockatoo, the
bunnies and the chipmunks, but those were all
outdoor animals/pets. He wanted something he
could enjoy indoors, especially on all those
rainy days in the Pacific Northwest.
Wandering through the pet
store, he saw dozens of small plastic containers
with betta fish in them. The poor fish had barely
enough room to turn around and Tim felt a need to
liberate at least a couple of them from captivity.
How many fish can I
put in one tank?, he said to the teenager
in the fish department.
Well, only one male
fish or a couple female fish, but you cant
mix them. Males will fight other males or females,
sometimes to the death.
All right. Ill
take a dozen male fish with small tanks.
A dozen? The
teenager thought he must be kidding.
Tim flashed his black
All right, these one-gallon
tanks have a filter, light and heater. They
should be perfect. Ill have them brought to
the register. You can choose your fish.
Tim looked over the
collection, betta fish ranging from $2.99 to $30
each. He chose only male fish, with their vibrant
colors and beautiful fins.
The teenager gave him a
container of pellets, enough to feed all the fish
for months. You only give each fish a few
pellets a day.
What about gravel and
Betta fish love gravel,
plants and some structures to hide into, so Tim
bought an assortment of colored gravels, plants,
structures, even a mirror so the fish could see
themselves, you know like they put in canary
What about water
Ill tell you a
secret. We have many chemicals to adjust the
water chemistry for fish, but you only need to
use spring water instead of tap water. The tank
will stay crystal clear and you only need to do
partial water changes every month or two.
Great, any particular
Evian is best. PH of
7.2, perfectly balanced.
Is that why I see
some people have such clear tanks and some look
like the black lagoon?
Yup, its our
little secret, so people keep buying chemicals.
Well, I appreciate
the tip and Ill keep your secret. Tim
handed the teenager a crisp, one-hundred-dollar
bill. Here, take your girl out on me.
Being an engineer, Tim was
able to set up book cases for the twelve tanks,
and power strips for all the electrical cords.
Once everything was set up, he posted a picture
of all the tanks with their LED lights on, the
rainbow of colored gravels and little structures
for the fish to play in. Reactions to the post
were immediate and frequent.
Other betta fish owners
sent congratulations, along with respect on how
he had freed so many betta fish from their little
containers at the pet store. He was nominated for
an award from the betta fish association of
Local school teachers asked
Tim if they could bring their students in to see
the tanks. Now, look children but dont
touch. You could scare the fish, said a
teacher to his students. The students marveled at
the display. You could almost hear them asking
their parents for a fish when they got home.
Can you touch the
fish mister?, said one cute 8-year-old boy.
Well, no son, you
might upset the water chemistry and besides, they
might bite you.
The kids laughed. Little
fish cant bite, they have no teeth.
Im afraid so.
Thats why theres only one fish in
each tank. Otherwise, they bite each other.
All right children,
time to go. The teacher thanked Tim.
welcome. Would you like one of the fishes for
The kids overheard his
offer and began clapping and cheering.
generous sir. Which one do you think?
Lets let the kids
decide. After a few minutes of commotion, the
children decided on the Double Tail fish with red
and blue fins. Tim took out the tank and handed
it to the teacher.
Later that day, Tim read a
post from a woman who saw his fish display. She
asked if she could come see them. Tim agreed and
the woman came over to his home around dinner
time with a bottle of wine.
Tim was surprised when he
opened the door. Here was this stunning twenty
something blonde with athletic built and an
Hi, Im Kelly,
you must be Tim.
Yes, please come in.
I brought dinner and
wine, if you dont mind, a thank you for
letting me see your fish.
generous. Here, lets put these on the table
and see the fish before we eat.
Kelly marveled at the fish
display, beautifully set up in Tims bedroom
on cherry wood bookcases, four shelves of three
I love this. But I thought you had twelve tanks.
I did, but I gave one
to a classroom that came to visit today.
Kelly sighed to herself,
obviously taken with the kindness of his gesture.
Can we open that wine now?
Sure. Tim and
Kelly ate dinner and finished the bottle of wine,
talking with soft chamber music playing in the
background. After a couple of hours, Kelly stood
up, took Tims hand and led him to the
bedroom. She stayed the night. Tim wasnt
Betta Fish Have Teeth? by Jerry Guarino
Copyright February, 2020 All Rights