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Up Up and Away with my Beautiful Balloons



So I completely lost it when the baby tikus mentioned in my last blog entry arrived with 2 of them DOA and the rest looking sketchy. Total loss within 48 hours. It was awful. The seller very kindly sent replacements at no charge, all of which were DOA. It was ridiculous. They couldn't even make it into my tank before going belly-up.

My theory is that both the online seller and the LFS were getting their baby pearlscales from the same wholesaler. Both the online seller and the store are in California, so it's likely that the same importer was supplying their fish (and clearly this was a very bad batch of pearlscales!).

I was beyond depressed at that point, and it was made even worse once I scoured and disinfected every last inch of the aquarium and got everything reassembled and running again. I was being taunted by that shiny fresh tank, just sitting there bubbling away, fish-less. Every time I walked past, it was mocking me.

I kept cruising the four or so local fish stores near me that have a decent selection of goldfish, but nothing was screaming "Take me home!" I had had my heart set on pearlscales, and the others just left me feeling kind of meh. I even saw some really sweet young ranchus in some of my favorite color combos, but they just weren't doing it for me. And even though I'm really fairly certain that the Great Pearlscale Massacre of 2015 wasn't my fault in the slightest, losing so many fish in such a short period of time had really left me shaken, and I was questioning my abilities as a fishkeeper. When you're scooping two or three dead fish from your aquarium on a daily basis, you have to wonder what you're doing wrong. It's just natural.

So I was shuffling through my favorite LFS, scanning through the tanks of goldfish I'd looked at just a few days before, wondering halfheartedly if I should just get those red and white orandas already, or maybe that nice white butterfly telescope, and call it done, when I drifted further to the right -- and saw a tank filled with these unbelievably wiggly fish that made my heart leap.

You see, they kind of resembled my dear departed tiku pearlscales. Round, globe-like bodies and tiny little heads. But unlike the pearlies I'd been watching perish in rapid succession, these fish were astonishingly energetic. They were positively swarming through the tank and as I leaned in for a closer look, the whole mass of them just converged in front of my face, paddling frantically and vying for attention. What WERE these little fishy gremlins?

Two words: Balloon mollies.

Huh? Mollies? But those were TROPICAL fish. And aside from puffers, I'd never kept a tropical fish in my life. I'm a goldfish girl through and through, baby. Goldfish are challenging. They're unique. They're ever so much more complex than the aquarium world gives them credit for. And mollies are just ... mollies. I mean, doesn't everybody and his cousin have some black mollies in a tank with, like, minnows and some moss and tadpoles from the creek? I mean, mollies? Please.

But I just couldn't tear myself away from that tank. If I moved to the right or left, the whole gaggle of fish followed me. They were ridiculously lopsided and, well, balloon-y. And I realized I was smiling.


I mean, come on.

So I did something that I never ever do when it comes to keeping pets. I am the Queen of Research, the Goddess of Learning All You Can Before You Buy, Little Miss Scolds-You-If-You-Don't-Know-What-You're-Getting-Into. And yet I grabbed the nearest LFS employee, pointed out my favorite five balloon mollies, and I was out the door and in my car before I even knew what happened.

Coming soon: Salve for my battered fishkeeper's soul, how balloon mollies are a lot like goldfish, and omigod-what's-that-speck-oh-CRAP-is-that-a-baby?


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