Ladies and gents, allow me to introduce Hank and Ankle. Named by Lucy before they were even brought home, both Hank and his friend Ankle are carassius auratus, known to you and me as goldfish. Hank, the large orange one, is a Western Fantail related to the Japanese ryukin, and Ankle is a telescope-eyed Black Moor. They would both like you to know two things: they are relatives of the Carp family, and when they get together, they aren’t a “school,” they’re a “troubling” (which they – and I – think is really cool).
I come from a very long and storied line of pet-keeping, and I’ve been chomping at the bit for Lucy to have a pet since she was about three weeks old. Therapists like to say that having kids allows parents to relive (or re-cast) their own childhoods, and I always wanted fish, but never got them. HA!
These days taking care of fish is so much easier than it was in the ’70s when I was a little brat eating orange Push-Ups. The filtration systems don’t use that horrible cotton shoved into the pumps anymore, and you can get rid of any water problems or “ick” with a few drops of solution. The system above – the Eclipse 12-gallon tank – even has a spinning “good bacteria” wheel that means you only change 25% of the water every few weeks.
Lucy loves Hank & Ankle with the dedication of most Americans to their TV shows: that is, she wants a good swath of time inventing stories about them before her attention span demands distraction. However, the person benefiting most is probably me.
At night, I’m able to sit on the couch in front of Hank & Ankle and stare into the water for vast stretches of time, the kind of zen-like trance that can happen at a campfire or an ocean. They were originally bought to give Lucy the inchoate first chapter of “taking responsibility for other beings,” and I’m sure that’s sinking in somewhere, but those two little dudes have accidentally provided me with something stronger: unexpected peace of mind.