On feelings and fish   Leave a comment

So I’ll go out and say it: I have relapsed in my depression. It is full-on, and constant. James confronted me about it (I say “confronted” because I don’t know what better word to use, “intervention” isn’t a verb?). He keeps asking me to see a doctor. Well, I won’t see a doctor until I have a better job. That’s what I say.

James even pointed out the pattern to me: I moved to Iowa, I got depressed. I move to North Carolina, I get depressed.

Speaking of patterns, this is what most people see depression as:


But I see it more like this:


The green is life. The yellow is fear. The red is anger. I don’t remember being sad, really. Empty. Hopeless. But not sad. I spent my late teens and early 20s afraid. But now I have relapsed, and I am angry all the time. I get angry that I have to wake up. I get angry that my feet are cold. I get angry that I can’t eat a hamburger. I get angry that I have to wear khakis. I get angry that someone is talking to me. I get angry when someone laughs. I am angry all the time, and that is exhausting. My insides feel sore from all the anger. And, at the same time, I feel empty, and it’s hard to see an end to all of this. Sometimes I come home and cry from being angry and tired and hopeless. I can’t focus enough to read, which is a shame, because At the Mountains of Madness was finally getting to the point. I can’t concentrate or remember anything so I can’t write. I have one last hope, and that is Latin. I have tomorrow off. I’m going to devote the whole day to Latin. Maybe that will fix things.

Anyway, the point of this entry is to talk about fish. About a week and a half ago, I was struggling through exposition in At the Mountains of Madness, and James was flipping through his internet things. Suddenly he said, “I can’t wait until we have a more permanent place. Then you’ll finally be able to set up the fish tank.”

“I’ll do what?” I said.

“You’ll set up the fish tank.”

“Your fish tank?”

“The fish tank.”


And I let the words sit for a moment, and then I said, “I was going to get a 36-gallon bowfront so we’ll have tanks that are about the same size, and then we’ll each have fish tanks.”

“In addition to the fish tank we already have?”

To make a long story short, James thought that we had already discussed this and had decided that I was going to build up his old 37-gallon fish tank, but I did not know that, and anyway. I thought, based on several conversations we had had in the past, that he wanted cichlids.

I said I wasn’t interested in building a cichlid tank. He said he didn’t want cichlids any more. He wanted a fish tank like what I used to have, but more.


More plants. He wanted grass. He wanted full-on aquascaping like what you see in all the fancy fish catalogues.

Obviously I can’t do anything like that with a mere 37-gallon tank, but I have read up on the Amano theory of aquascaping and could use a new purpose in life. I tend to decide what to do with my fish tanks based on the fish that I’m going to put in there. I built my beautiful 20-gallon planted tank around the corydoras that I decided I wanted. I made a corydoras paradise in there — soft, flaky gravel for their barbs and sniffers, lots of wide-leafed plants for them to hide under, and a school of tetras to act as lookout (they didn’t need a lookout in an enclosed environment, but having lookouts makes other fish feel more secure — hence the rummy-nose tetras, whose nose changes color according to water quality and therefore doubled as a barometer for me).

I pestered James to tell me what kind of fish he wanted. He said he wanted Pictus catfish. I can see why; Pictus are big fish, playful and charming (That means they swim, fast, out in the open. Fishkeepers have low standards on fish personality).

I came back a few days later and said no to the Pictus, and in fact no to any kind of bottom-dwelling fish. Bottom-dwelling fish come from rivers, and so they need very light planting, like what I had in my old tank. The heavily-planted tank like what we were going to have would be too thick with plants to encourage comfort in bottom-dwelling fish.

According to the internet, schooling fish were best for heavily-planted tanks. Alright, said James. Then he wanted cardinal tetras.

Cardinal tetras are all well and good, but I spent the morning trying to find tankmates. Actually, tankmates for cardinal tetras aren’t that hard to find. As long as the Cardinals have enough of their own kind (six or more), they tend to be pretty easy-going fish. They can live with anything other than predators. But I wanted to be picky. The tankmates had to be the perfect companions. Fish that I would be interested in. My immediate thought was tiger barbs, but the internet reviewed them as too nippy and unruly for a peaceful tetra tank. Dang. That’s what I like about tiger barbs.

I eventually settled on zebra danios: nine cardinal tetras and nine zebra danios. The cardinal tetras would take up the bottom half of the tank, and the zebra danios would take up the top half (they would swim in each other’s territory, but that is the way they tend to go). Plus, zebra danios have a ton of different breeds that I can mix and match.

That is all one species! I can have a variety of colors and fish in my tank and still technically only have two species in there.

Of course, I have no idea when I’m going to build this tank. Maybe in the new apartment; maybe when we buy a house. Who knows. But still, it’s been nice to plan.


Posted January 15, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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