Most of my breaks in elementary school consisted of watching Friends reruns and eating Cuties tangerines on the couch – evident from the mounds of peels I had in my trashcan by the end of the day. But I had a bombass winter break in 4th grade. I had always been a fan of animals, and loved pets. This was back when I wanted to be a veterinarian, and also before I discovered my cat allergies.
For Christmas, I asked for mealworms –yes, the larval form of the mealworm beetle- because I thought they were cute. My dad took me to Petco, and they only sold them in boxes of 100 and no way was my mother going to allow 100 potential beetles into her house. So my dreams of racing mealworms Indy 500 –style across my kitchen tiles were crushed. I then resorted to asking for fish.
Why I chose Siamese fighting fish to breed, I have no idea. But if I couldn’t have 100 mealworms, I was willing to settle for 100 betta fish. I put the two into one tank and waited for the magic to happen. Unfortunately, their idea of magic was not what I had in mind, as Unnamed (male) viciously chased Muffidi (female) all around the tank, all night long. By morning, she was missing parts of her fins, and my dad warned me that if I didn’t separate them soon, there would be no Muffidi, and thus no 100 fish babies.
I disheartenedly allowed my dad to scoop the weary and warn out female out, but that was not the end of my mission. My next stop was the library. I checked out a bunch of books on breeding techniques and betta habits, discovering an entire world of skilled breeding. I was excited, to say the least, to put my newly acquired knowledge to the test. But first I bought a new male because the one I had clearly did not respect females and was an anti-feminist. Unacceptable. No magic for him!! In an email in 2007 to a friend, I wrote:
what a surprise! you're supposed to put the male in a 2-5 gallon tank, set the temperature to about 80 degrees, and put a whole bunch of stuff in the tank. then, you put the female in a floating see through cupand put the cup in the tank.......... well VERY long story so in sum, the spawning was so beautiful. my new male built a wonderful bubblenest (my new male's name is garian and my female's name is muffidi and my old males name is lonely). garian would flip muffidi on her side, then he would squeeze her abdomen till the eggs came out, except it took them a while to do that cuz garian kept slipping off her and ended up hugging himself!! hahah.well what to do with all those fry?? hhhhmmmmmmm........ i dunno maybe give them away? possibly. right now they are all teeeensy weeeeeeensy!! and you can't tell male from female yet. but in a month, they'll all be beautiful!!! when they grow older, i'll have to seperate the males....................
So I renamed Unknown to Lonely because he would forever be single on account of his disrespect for the female body. One winter break and several pairs of betta fish later, I got what I wanted and more – I exceeded my goal of 100 fish and ended up with around 1000 fry (baby fish).
Although my fish-breeding days are long past me, I gained a new understanding of life and its creation, way before the “Family Life” videos all sixth graders are forced to watch. The concept of survival of the fittest was also introduced to me at this time, in which I horrifically witnessed the cruel consumption of fry by their own parents if they couldn’t swim fast enough. Furthermore, I gained a vast knowledge of different types of betta fish, which I way-too-excitedly got to share with my 9th grade biology class. Luckily, people did not judge me too much and I still got a date to Winter Formal.