Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pet sitting the goldfish

Fish tanks 

You think it’d be easy; just feed the fish, right? Generally, yes it is that simple. But pet sitting follows Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Here’s some fish tank care tips for pet sitters.

First off, if the water level goes down, in many geographical areas you can’t just pour in some tap water and be done with it. There is enough chlorine in tap water to kill fish, so your client may leave you some chlorine neutralizer (Ask about it during your consultation). Add the neutralizer every time you add water.

Leaking tank:

I walked in the client’s bedroom and saw the water level was down to half in the five gallon tank. Wow, that evaporated quickly, I thought. But it had been really hot, so I just refilled it. On my next visit, the next day, the tank was half full again. It dawned on me the tank was leaking, but I felt no wetness on the table or on the edges. The carpet, however, was soaked. I finally decided that the pressure of the water broke a seal on the tank, and it would drain only so far and then when the pressure was relieved, it stopped leaking. So at least it wouldn’t go completely dry and kill the fish.

But, the pump wasn’t getting any water, and it could burn up and start a fire. I unplugged the pump and light and moved the tank into the bathtub, where it could leak to its heart’s content. Beach towels from the cupboard soaked up water from the carpet, and a fan helped it dry. I envisioned a moldy musty smell when the owners returned. I called them, and they didn’t want me to leave a window open, so the fan was the best solution.

The fish were fine in half a tank for a few days, and more important, the house was safe from further damage.

Trust me, these things only happen when your clients leave home.


More is not necessarily better. The number one cause of death in pet fish is overfeeding (so the fish vet tells me). So be stingy with the food. One client actually had a constipated beta (Siamese Fighting Fish). I am not making this up! He had been over fed, and several days of fasting resulted in a complete recovery. Who knew… 

The painting with this article is mine, entitled "Koi." It was done in watercolor and colored pencil. Limited edition prints are available for sale. Contact me. Visit my web site to view more of my art.

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