Dead Babies IV: Snail Mommy

We have fish tanks. We have one 30-gallon tank, and a smaller tank that gets its inhabitants today.

These little fellas:


I understand that keeping a shrimp tank is kind of trendy right now in Asia, and the Fish Tank Proprietor (henceforth FTP) in our house is kind of into (read wild crazy full of love for) Asian stuff.

Critter Love/Hate

I am somewhat antagonistic toward the notion of pets.  I suspect that this stems primarily from the fact that I wanted pets when I was a child, but my parents said no.  Then when my sisters, who are 8- and 10-years younger, were 8 and 6 respectively, they were allowed to have cats.  I brought one home, too, but I was 16 at the time, and wasn’t used to it, and felt like I already missed out, and frankly,  I just haven’t had time to get over it.

Still.  I enjoy the fish tanks quite a bit.  I think snails are super neat.  So we went to petco last weekend, and they had these groovy snails:

Ellis & Sigmund

I know they’re hard to see, but if you look closely, there’s Ellis kind of under the rock to the left, sporting the spotty, reddish shell; and you can see just a bit of Sigmund’s stripey shell to the right, behind the leaves.

I named the snails thusly:  Those with stripes are Sigmund, Ferdinand (or Francis, depending on my mood), and Lazarus who is so named because he rose from the presumed dead, and is now hanging out in the will-be shrimp tank.  The red, spotty ones are Ellis, Currer, and Acton.  This is because of my love for the Bronte sisters.

Here’s a picture of Lazarus:

Back from the dead!

Loach: Doing what comes natural.

We have a loach.  He’s a little bottom sucker, but he also eats the very, very tiny snails that arrive in our plants.  These breed like mad, and there is constantly a population of them.  The loach is named Princess, and is called so because my sweet child (who is six) named the loach.  She named all of the other fish we have  Castle (there are about twenty of varying types: tetras, barbs, danios, etc).

The FTP didn’t think that  the loach would eat Ferdinand, Sigmund, Ellis, Currer, and Acton, but thought it was an outside possibility.  Ferdinand has a little crack in his shell, and FTP said that might’ve come from Princess.

Princess used to be the underdog in my mind.  He’s changed color a bit, and I feel like he’s lonely (even though he hides under the driftwood most of the time).  I have often lobbied for more ethical treatment for him (getting him a friend) and special treats (freezedried blood worms), but now that he’s presenting a potential threat to my little snails, I look at him with murder in my heart.  I find his behavior to be suspicious, and I am often worried about his intentions.

He’s already black-and-white striped, and I kind of want to put him in fish tank jail.  This is him:


Reckless Snails

But my snails hang out with him.  They feed on his driftwood cave, and taunt him with their succulent mollusk innards that he seems only-too-willing to attempt to conquer.  Even though there are many, many easier meals for Princess.

I feel like I should ground the snails, make them dress less slutty and come home by 10 p.m.

Sometimes, they cluster up and I imagine they are plotting to overthrow Princess.  I cheer them on in my mind.  I say, “Damn the man! Kill the Loach!”  I recognize this is probably irrational.

And I also recognize that our little loach is probably not big enough yet to kill my snails.  He’s about 3 inches.  But he’ll grow a bit more, and FTP thinks the snails are probably as big as they’ll get, even though there’s no shortage of algae upon which they may (and do) feast madly.

So I find myself puzzled by my odd, maternal impulses toward these snails, and my bloodlust for Princess.  Last night, I had a dream that we got a big, ugly snail after Princess ate all my small, pretty snails.  He moved fast, and was chasing Princess with murder on his feelers.

I woke up before the snail got Princess.

I wonder what it all means.