It all started in January of 2008. We had just moved in at my mother-in-law’s house, and my kids found a turtle. It was not just any turtle, you see. It was an itty-bitty baby turtle. How could I possibly say no to an itty-bitty baby turtle? It was so cute. We measured the shell, and it was only ¾ of an inch long. It wouldn’t eat much or cause much trouble, right? So, I allowed the turtle in, and I sacrificed one of my Tupperware bowls to be its house. We named him Dash, but later found out he was a girl. Yes, I can tell the difference between a girl turtle and a boy turtle. That’s how deep this illness runs.
After we moved to where we live now, a little boy up the driveway asked us if we wanted his turtle. “Sure,” we said, “Dash wants a roommate.” By this time, Dash had grown to about 3 ½ inches long and was living in a very large corner aquarium in our family room. So, we got Peanut (God rest his soul) and added him to our menagerie. Peanut was itty-bitty, but he grew quickly. It’s something about that aquarium that makes things grow quickly.
Peanut quickly became the most annoying turtle that ever walked (or swam) the face of the earth. He would stay at the side of the aquarium and wag his tail at us when we walked by. That part was cute. However, his bad habit of rearranging the aquarium was not so cute. The sound of rocks scraping the bottom of the glass got annoying, as did having to replant the fake plants because he would uproot them. He annoyed Dash constantly, and I’m pretty sure I saw her glare at him a time or two.
Then, there was the mating dance. When Peanut hit puberty, he wanted Dash to be his “special friend.” He would swim up to her and wave his hands in front of her rapidly and repeatedly. It reminded me of a middle school boy at a dance in the gymnasium. Dash responded by getting back on her log and sleeping. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much how Dash responds to everything.
When we went out of town in June, we bought a bunch of feeder fish and put them in the tank. This was to keep the turtles fed while we were gone. The aquarium was too big to move, and we were going to be gone for almost a month. It was the easiest way to keep them alive instead of having to ask someone to check on them for us. So, with about 25 fish, a good sprinkle of food and a wave goodbye, we left the turtles. When we left, there were 25 fish that were about 1 inch long. When we came back about a month later, there were about 6 fish left that were about 1 inch long. Then, there was the Murderer. The Murderer had grown to about 2 1/2 inches long. The thing had more than doubled in size!
Once we came back from our trip, the turtles kept eating the fish. Since we often forgot to feed them, they had to use their natural skills as vicious hunters to survive. (If you don’t think they are vicious, you should watch a turtle eat a fish sometime. It’s pretty nasty.) Finally, one fish remained: The Murderer.
Now, Dash was not interested in the Murderer, but Peanut was obsessed. He wanted that fish badly. He would chase it all around the tank. The fish would hide in a hollow decoration that looked like a pot. Peanut couldn’t get in the pot. The fish would dart out, get Peanut’s attention and go back in the pot. He really was cruel, and Peanut fell for it every time. Peanut wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box.
One morning, Mr. Everything looked in the aquarium and said, “Where’s Peanut?” We looked and looked and could not find him. Then, we noticed that the hollow pot decoration had been moved. We typically kept it buried in the rocks so the turtles would not get inside it. We looked inside, and there was Peanut. That Murderer had lured him into the pot and left him there. Poor Peanut got his shell stuck and had no way to get out. He died a shameful death as the Murderer swam nearby and laughed. Okay, I don’t actually know whether fish can laugh or not, but if they can, this one did. (In case you didn’t know, although aquatic turtles live in the water, they still need air to survive.)
We gave Peanut a hero’s burial. The Goose cried. I was sad but refused to cry over a reptile. I have my principles, you know, and turtles are related to snakes. It was a sad day in the aquarium.
Since then, the Murderer has continued his reign of terror. He swims around the aquarium as though he owns the place. He has grown to about 6 inches long. The thing is huge. Dash just cowers on her log and is afraid to come out.
The kids convinced me to get not one but two more itty-bitty sweet little turtles. They won’t put them in the aquarium, however, because of the Murderer. Can you imagine what he could do to babies? So, what was once a Tupperware bowl with an itty-bitty turtle has now developed into a huge aquarium and two small aquariums. How do these things happen to me?
By the way, if you are now questioning my photography skills, YOU try taking a picture of a psychotic fish that darts all around the aquarium. It was toying with me. It would stay at the glass until I was ready to take the picture and it would swim away. It even hid behind the pot and peeked around the corner at me. Psycho.
Also, yes, the water is dirty. It's impossible to keep the water clean with a turtle and a giant fish pooping in it all the time. I promise the rest of my house is cleaner than that tank. Don't judge me by my fish-keeping abilities. -Al