Mike Brown: This is the Dawn of the Age of Aquarium
It’s good and important to have hobbies. Although I enjoy reveling in my own nothingness most of the time, I guess it’s fruitful to have something to do and look forward to. I personally enjoy stoner hobbies. What are stoner hobbies? Well, quite simply, they’re hobbies that are enjoyed to the maximum while you’re higher than a hippie in a hot air balloon. I exclude Hacky Sack and bongo drums—those require too much coordination to master for your THC-soaked brainwaves. I’m more so talking about things like jigsaw puzzles, video games, of course, and a hobby I’ve recently taken up: This is the dawn of the age of aquarium.
Yeah, I got an aquarium. Why? Because fish are fucking cool, that’s why. Oh, and I needed a new hobby. I’ve had fish before. We’ve all probably had a goldfish at one point. Although goldfish are basically carp, which is a garbage fish, they are the Vince Vaughn of the freshwater world for sure. I once had a betta fish named Gary Glitter that I kept alive in a jar for three years. He was cool. That said, I felt ready to step up to an actual tank and start playing god.
“Yeah, I got an aquarium. Why? Because fish are fucking cool, that’s why.”
One of the main appeals of owning an aquarium is that you get to play god. I am a merciful god, for the aquatic realm I have created on the seventh day for my fish children is beautiful and abundant with bubbles and live plants. May your physical journey throughout my tank be pleasurable, full of fish orgies and decadence, eating flakes until your fish bellies are full, until the fateful day where ye fish shall float to the top, belly up, as if transcended to the celestial fish kingdom via my toilet, where the sounding flush shall replace the 21-gun salute. ’Tis where ye fish shall be resurrected in the bright eyes of King Neptune himself.
And by resurrected, I mean, I’ll just go to the fish store and replace your dead ass with another fish who looks just like you.
When creating my tank, the first decision is saltwater versus freshwater. I watched the SeaWorld documentary that showed how hard it is to keep mammal fish alive in a tank, so I quickly decided that my aquarium would have a strict no-mammals-allowed policy. I’m not trying to be rude or exclusive, I just don’t want mammals in my tank because they’d be unhappy there. That said, the decision was made to create a freshwater utopia. The decision to side with team freshwater was easy due to the fact that salt is for potato chips and sweaty butts, not for my fish. Also, saltwater tanks are way harder to take care of, and we all know how lazy I am.
“And by resurrected, I mean, I’ll just go to the fish store and replace your dead ass with another fish who looks just like you.”
Aside from getting to play god, there are some other reasons why I’ve indulged in this hobby. The white noise a proper tank provides could put the most agonized insomniac to sleep. I don’t think fish sleep, so I must sleep for them. The soft sounds of the bubbles shall gently filter through my great land of beautiful wetness as I maraud through my dreamscape of riding a seahorse chariot escorted by sharks on my way to canoodle with mermaids and octopuses alike. A boy can dream.
Just like people, some fish are mean and can be bullies. I don’t like bullies. And though I would ideally like to have my fish learn to stand up for themselves, I’m treating my tank like I treat most of my relationships when there’s a confrontation: Just avoid it. So no bully fish are allowed, only happy fish.
Fish aquariums also make great cat TV. We all know how much I love my cat, Princess Ramona, and how I am constantly striving to make her happy and content. Dazzling colorful guppies dashing back and forth shall amuse her for hours on end, so I won’t have to. It will give Princess Ramona a reason to leave the top of the cat tree from which she rules the apartment.
“I’m treating my tank like I treat most of my relationships when there’s a confrontation: Just avoid it.”
As I was researching what types of fish I wanted and checking the compatibility between species, a thought crossed my mind. What if I skipped the pet store and went straight to the fish black market? How would one do that, and what would it look like? I can’t exactly go down to the park on the bad side of town at night and find a guy with a trenchcoat full of piranhas. Not that I would do this, just wondering. Like, is there a secret pond somewhere that runs like a drug house always trying to duck the feds as they slang out endangered species to fish-addicted maniacs? Just a thought.
Instead, I’ll go to the pet store like a normal dude. There are some good ones in Salt Lake. Mark’s Ark in Taylorsville is my favorite, so far. It’s mostly because I like the name, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, they have a shop cat, and the store smells like a pet store. Murky and comforting.