Animal companions are nice to have but they do need plenty of care. Even simple creatures such as fish need special attention not readily apparent to the casual viewer of them. I learned my lesson the hard way back in 1979 with two angel fish.

I became acquainted with a man named Jack on the CB. He sold various kinds of live fish out of his home and mentioned his business often on the CB. As he spoke about his fish, I began to believe that I could keep some in my basement apartment. They wouldn’t take up space and I would be able to take care of them without the landlord objecting.

I felt nervous one October evening as I rode the busses home from Jack’s house. In a Ziplock bag on my lap rested two angel fish as well as aquarium supplies. I felt relieved when I got my new pets home and placed them safely in the fish tank that a friend loaned to me.

I made plenty of mistakes during the six months that I had the angel fish. First, I let too much air bubble through the filter into their water. I over-fed and later under-fed them. Cleaning the gravel at the bottom was also difficult for me. There were days when I put off cleaning the aquarium because of the frustrating work it involved. I also neglected to clean the activated charcoal in the filter often enough.

First one and then the other fish sickened and died. Both deaths made me feel guilty. I should have been more diligent in washing the gravel thoroughly and maintaining the filter.  Returning the aquarium to my friend and giving her the associated odds and ends required to keep fish alive made me feel sorry for those poor creatures.

This is one of many lessons I learned regarding the responsibility of keeping pets. Every animal requires a clean environment and proper food. They also need company and a regular routine in order to thrive. I was warned of what I had to do to keep my angel fish healthy and alive but I grew lazy after the novelty wore off. My advice to anybody adopting any kind of animal is to think it over very carefully. It’s pointless having a pet and then leaving the creature alone for long periods of time. These animals need to have their mess cleaned up and to be fed the right amount of the correct foods. Unless a person is ready to assume these duties and to perform them regularly, there’s no point in keeping a pet.

My first book, When a Man Loves a Rabbit, shows in story form how I learned about bunny care. I made many mistakes along the way but I did learn from them. Check it out at the Bruce Atchison’s books link. My memoir of being sent far from home for months at a time during childhood is also there.

How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.


Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.


  1. The first pet I remember was a dog named Figaro. My parents named him either for the character in The Marriage of Figaro or The Barber of Seville. I don’t remember too much about him because I was pretty small when we got him, but I do know that he contracted spotted fever, and we had him put down. This was in Tucson, Arizona, where the disease was common. Thanks, Bruce, for another interesting post.

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