Miss Ellie, The Flatboys & The Banditos

A little background to start.

My father has kept freshwater fish nearly his entire life – and all of mine for that matter. I can recall countless of tanks, mishaps, and even coming home about 3 years old from breakfast with my parents to 110 gallons of water and fish strewn across the floor – some he even managed to save and would go on to live 25+ years later!

He even gave my son who was about 3 at the time his first real aquarium after his goldfish he named Nemo that he got when he was 2 was growing to be “pan sized” as my father called him.

Some of my fathers accomplishments include keeping Arwanas that were donated to the Chicago Shedd Aquarium and later transported to an aquarium in New Jersey, he has ALWAYS kept Clown Loaches (his signature fish) some as long as over 30 years.

One particular fish species that my mother absolutely loves but is notorious for jumping out of tanks like magicians and they have never had one last longer than a week or two in my family’s home is the elephant nose fish. Imagine a dolphin like head with a fish tail.

Amazingly my mother found another elephant nose some 6 months ago and because this particular fish was smart enough not to jump out, my mother decided it was a female because she was smart and named her fish Miss Ellie.

Later on my father would add 3 flounders he would name “The Flat Boys” and 3 bandit cat fish “The Banditos” to Miss Ellie’s house. Even when my father added automatic led lighting to his largest tanks, which simulates the natural lighting fish would experience at every stage of the day – Miss Ellie’s humble abode would not go without – especially when that’s my mother’s latest baby. I have lost count on how many times I’ve heard “Only the best for Miss Ellie”.

I can honestly say without any hesitation that the quality of care that every single animal received whether it was a dog, bird, ferret, lizard or fish that has come through my parents door has definitely been ingrained into my brain to the point that my animals probably eat better than me. Needless to say – they were all spoiled – including mine.

So when my parents decided to take their first solo vacation together in 36 years, I was on fish duty. While I had zero qualms about this and thankfully only living a mile away, I did have to give my parents the disclaimer just in case something happened to Miss Ellie on my watch. So fish duty would mean that:

  • Day 1: turn off the filter pumps on all the tanks and feed the fish the pre-measured food according to the spreadsheet of instructions – yes a spreadsheet. This would include into dissolving frozen blood worms for Miss Ellie and her crew.
  • Day 2: Come by around the same time to turn the pumps back on.

Rinse and Repeat. So far so good. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope Miss Ellie behaves.

Funny… I’d never thought I’d say that about a fish.

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