Once upon a time in a land not so far away there lived a plecostomus. His simple but fulfilling home was underneath a swordplant, at least that’s where he preferred to sleep, when he wanted to sleep, which was most of the time. He was a very good looking plecostomus; without being vain; with a tall, fine boned dorsal fin that gave observers the impression of maturity but not arrogance, and wonderful, unusual markings that were tasteful but not overdone. It was many times remarked upon by visitors that he was very well grown for his age and that his mouth was particularly apt at rasping algae.
He was a very happy fish, sleeping cozily under his plant most of the day except when his little friends the corys came nosing about, trying to get under him just in case the choicest morsels of shrimp pellets were there. The metal halide was directly above, and he would enjoy its warmth as he lay snoozing, imagining the delightful food he would eat later that night. But the best time was at night, when his hired help would serve a late supper including zucchini for dessert. When the lights went out, he would loosen up his raspers with an easy warm-up exercise and settle in for some serious dining. In the morning he would glide back to his favorite resting spot and drift off, just another easy day.
Then one day his world was turned upside down. In the middle of his afternoon siesta there was a noise like thunder and sunlight came flooding down. He twitched his fins in agitation and his tail swished violently across the gravel. The glass top slid open with a squeal and everyone swam for cover. In came the hose, and out went some water. A splash and hands came down, his beloved swordplant was carefully rearranged. It was all just too much and he flared his fins up and out. Should he stay or should he go? Wait where did that bucket come from? Why is it so close? Nooooo not the bucket! Out came the bucket, and down went the lid, but not before there was a great deal of splashing, soaking, and sputtering.
Up the stairs, down the hall, out the door, and into the warm summer day. In the car, shut the door. Up the road – lots of traffic. Watch the pothole, around the men doing construction, stop for the red light (hmmm those brakes need looking at). Big bump, gravel drumming against the bottom of the car, more potholes, stop the car. Various noise, some clanking. Move the bucket, bright light. People talking, water pouring, gravel falling. Finally the lid comes off. He is not a happy plecostomus. Lift the bucket, into the water, not quite home but pretty close. And there’s even a swordplant and some driftwood. He thrashed around trying to get comfortable; the driftwood was too small for a proper fin rest and the plant wasn’t big enough for him to get under. After he had worked through all his frustrations and decided to settle down, he could hear the admiring murmurs. Admiring and appreciating. “Fine specimen.” “Beautiful scale patterns.” “Rare variations on the species.” “Not a flaw on him.”
For three not so easy days, he displayed more frequently than he did typically and moved around somewhat, but not too much for the quarters were confining. The whole experience was repeated, but it was more complicated this time. Out came the plant, scattering gravel, out came the driftwood, no more hiding places left. In came the hose, out went the water. The bucket again! At the end of the harrowing car ride was his home, with his own swordplant that he slid under very gratefully. All he wanted was an extra large portion of zucchini and that’s just what he got. On the wall, his blue ribbon hung.