Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mr. Fischoeder gets a cleaning lady

Probably I haven't told you that I got a fish.

Please enjoy the fish's ironic backdrop because we know he does.

Not that I haven't caught fish - I've definitely told you about that - but that I have an actual fish living in my house. In a bowl. A fish bowl.

Like a pet fish would.

And like any pet fish, his name is obviously Mr. Fischoeder.

Because we love Bob's Burgers and when you love that show and then you get a fish, what the hell else are you going to call it? Ravioli?

No, that was for my pre-Bob's Burgers fish. Now, though, there is only one name - Mr. Fischoeder. Because it sounds like Fish Odor and that's amusing.

Every time I feed the fish or stare drunkenly at him in his big bowl (now anyway, he used to live in a tiny glass vase and before that in the ill-fated and useless AquaFarm), I laugh.

"Hehe - Hi, Mr. Fischoeder. You look lovely today, Mr. Fischoeder. You have no odor, Mr Fischoeder. Come face cuddle me, Mr. Fischoeder."

And so on. Because I'm a child that's also really easily amused.

Do those exist? I may be the first.

Anyway, so I have this fish with the amusing name and the pretty fluttery fins and also a semi-sordid history with pet fish.

Like, during my undergrad I basically rented some fish to swim around in a fish tank in my apartment and keep me company while I lay hungover on the floor with my hair stuck to the carpet with barf.

And also to entertain the maintenance guy who came around every so often to unclog my kitchen drain that was definitely not full of aquarium gravel.

Oh no. Never ever.

Once I graduated, I promptly returned to the aquarium store from which I purchased this little school of tetra and gave them back. They took them, quarantined them, and then started what I can only imagine was a mildly lucrative fish rental program for strange undergrads that have no time or the sobriety level for normal pets, but can't be left alone while they muddle through their hangovers.

I imagine. I don't know. That's what I would have done if I were an aquarium store owner.

Then about eight years later, when I was working on a new product at Google and it finally came out of beta, my cheeky sunuvabitch of a coworker got us all beta fish in little bowls with little gravels and ha ha he he ha.

My beta fish was blue and cheerful and I named him Ravioli because obviously.

He swam around in that bowl for almost a year and a half until one day I came in and he was not so much a fish, but a cloudy mass vaguely resembling a fish. It was a wee bit grody, but I gave him a proper burial and sent him to the great fish bowl in the sky toilet.

Farewell, Ravioli. You were a regal and trustworthy friend. Or something.

Then I quit that job and my life in high-tech to be a farmer. But instead of being a traditional farmer, I became a hydroponic farmer and got to also grow food the aquaponic way, and that is with fish.

About 400 koi, to be not exact at all.

And also a few sneaky hider catfish that swim along all dark and sneaky at the bottom of the dark tank so that you don't know they're there until you drain the tank and OH WHOOPSY who's that on the floor? Sorry, buddy.

But I was mostly really good to those fish. I made sure their feeders were full, clarifier was emptied regularly, airstones were pumping away and all that fun stuff that aquaponic growers do to keep their fertilizer machines working away happily. I even answered questions from snide bullshit hippies who gave me beef about how I was exploiting another creature for my own gain.

"You seem like fun!"


Anyway, then I got the AquaFarm. I'll spare you the stupid details, but basically after running the aquaponic lettuce crop for a while and then having 18 people tell me that I should get one of the AquaFarm things "just to try it out and see if it works even though you keep rolling your eyes like that", I got one and it didn't work just like I knew it wouldn't.

Or something like that.

Basically, yes, it grows microgreens. Hooray. I don't need a $70 over-engineered fish tank to grow a few handfuls of microgreens. I have a jar for that. I think it cost me around $1 a bunch of years ago when I got a flat of them for $8 so that I could can some jam or something.

The other stuff it was supposed to do, like grow basil and lettuce, were, um...false. Even from starts I brought home from the greenhouse that had been growing fine in my work aquaponics system, they just sat and sat and then eventually keeled over and died in the thing. Because it doesn't have any light and Mr. Fischoeder, the resident fertilizer machine, could only poop so much.

Mostly though, it was the light.

Anyway, whatever. The AquaFarm got disassembled and put away in the shame corner of the garage for a future Goodwill outing and Mr. Fischoeder got downsized to an abandoned flower vase with a few bits of gravel but with a prominent spot on the bar.

He socialized a lot back then because we did. He got a lot of attention swimming round and round in his wee bowl because it was so damn small he couldn't do much more than go round and round.

Poor guy. He was probably sea sick. If a fish can be such a thing. Which I'm sure they can't.

Anyway, Bubba was horrified at the guy's living conditions, so eventually I upgraded him to a big boy bowl - a proper actual Fish Bowl. And to fancy it up further, I poured a good portion of my sea glass collection in the bottom because I felt guilty about his former living conditions and was afraid he was going to file an HR claim against me with management.

HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT! Maybe we should have named him Archer?

But, here's the thing with a fish bowl that doesn't have a filter or plants filtering it - it gets dirty and needs cleaning. Which, no thank you.

I mean, I did it, because of my extreme and ongoing guilt and also because I don't like dirty things, but I was not a fan.

So, to get to the point of this random ass post, today while I was at the aquarium store getting some random ass shit for work, I had a random ass encounter with a very nice woman who was essentially buying a cleaning lady for her fish tank.

See, here I was standing in front of the glass case and a wall full of pumps and filters and handle jugs of Anti-Ich juice with my back to a billion aquariums humming away full of fish with my thermometers and humidity sensors and I look over to see what the lady next to me is getting and all she has is a plastic bag with a green ball in it.

"Uh. Whatcha got, there?" (Because I'm friendly sometimes.)

"I don't know, but it's cute!" (Because other people are sometimes adorable older gals making impulse purchases.)

"Hell yeah it is! What does it do?" (Because I always swear.)

"Um...entertain me?" (Because this is who I want to grow up to be.)

"It's a moss ball, ladies, and it doesn't do much more than look pretty and clean your fish's water." (Because aquarium store owners can only listen to so much nonsense before they have to interject and ruin our fun.)

"Ooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh." In unison, of course, because this woman is a kindred spirit.

"I want one." (Because I'm greedy)

"YAY! Isn't it funny what entertains us?" (Because she's adorable.)

"Indeed it is. Do you think I could pet it?" (Because I'm retarded.)

So, yeah, while I was out getting stuff for work, I bought my fish a cleaning lady.

Tell me, Moss Ball, do you do windows?

He's stoked.


  1. Hi Mr Fishoeder! Nice to meet you! And yay for Bob's Burgers!

    1. You're a proper gentleman, Jeph. And now you'll think of the fish whenever Kevin Kline makes an appearance. Enjoy.

  2. Mr. Fishoeder is so handsome!

    Not sure how well his cleaning-lady will fare, however. If you didn't have enough light for your microgreens, your moss-ball might face similar challenges (seein' as how it relies on photosynthesis in addition to fish-sh*t). I hope I'm wrong!

    P.S. If you want to offload your Aqua-Garden, I could take it off your hands (You know I'm not askaird of funky gardening experiments!) (Or rabid sea-dwelling critters!)

    1. Yeah - the moss ball and Mr Fischoeder get light and heat because otherwise...sad. I just wanted to run the AquaFarm as advertised to see if it'd work. Which, no.

      You're welcome to the AquaFarm! I'll bring it to you, even. Let's find a time. Now you can get a Mr Fischoeder, too, and they're so enjoyable.

  3. Kevin Kline and mossy balls.

  4. Did someone actually accuse you of exploiting fish? With a straight face? That you then wanted to punch, I should imagine.

    I shouldn't imagine the fish are eaten--since they're koi and not, say, tilapia, which I think are a popular choice for hydroponic systems that also mean to produce protein--so actually you're taking care of them, right? Not just eating them.

    I really can't believe there are people who even think that way, much less say it out loud to another person.

  5. When we lived in Wisconsin, we had a 30-gal freshwater tank. We had that tank for maybe four and a half years before we moved to California. It was a very stable tank...we changed the water once every couple of months. Mick took care of most of daily problems. That bastard was 18" long when we gave him to my uncle...and he was one of the original fish. So he was old, for a fish. They also took all our other fish, several of which were also hovering around four years old....and many of them are still alive in their tank, two and a half years after that.

    Unfortunately, our current house does not lend itself well to having another tank. Someday, though, we will have more fish.

  6. Cleaning the fish tank is the worst. And my fish never seemed normal after either. Long live Charlie Brown #goldfishforeva


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