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Something's fishy about certain pets

I doubt if there is anything on this planet that ranks remotely close to a fish in the hierarchy of general weirdity.

Just watch one of those critters swimming around aimlessly in its tank or bowl for a while — unless there’s something better to do. They always look surprised. Why does a fish have this frozen expression of surprise on its face? It’s not like the tank has turned into a scenic highway.

What does that dummy have in its soggy little world that could possibly keep it in a state of wonderment like that?

A sizable amount of critterdom inhabits less than wildly stimulating environments. Not even something as dull as a sloth, a creature that rarely sees anything more exciting than a banana leaf, looks surprised about something happening nearby. Let’s face it, few animals look less surprised than a sloth.

Like the sloth, the fish has very little (if anything) in its insulated world it hasn’t seen repeatedly since its first day of life, yet it looks like it just witnessed the latest landing in Roswell or a lobbyist with a conscience.

Let’s forget about the ones in the wild because those aren’t the ones we have around us. The ones in the tanks are probably pretty much the same as the ones out in nature anyhow. The only differences I can think of are the absence of predators, free food, and not having to swim as far to discover the same things they discovered before they left. Of course, going in circles for a lifetime kind of takes distance out of the equation since a circle has no beginning or end.

Why do people keep fish? Are they pets or decoration? They must be decoration because how can some creature be a pet that doesn’t do anything but go in circles and look surprised? Does it learn its name? Can it even hear its name? It certainly won’t come when it’s called. How long would it live trying to run to its master? If it jumped out of the water, it would . . . drown? I bet it would really look surprised in that event.

Forget about catching a Frisbee or sitting up for a treat. All fish are good for is going around and around in that tank with that expensive bubble thingie and fake seaweed. Big deal. If they think perpetually looking surprised will make up for no interaction with the humans that feed them, well we’ll just see about that.

Sometimes I wonder if fish in a tank swim around watching the humans. Maybe we shouldn’t call it swimming. Swimming is something we do on top of the water to keep from drowning, not something we do immersed in said water. Do they think humans are swimming and they are walking? It’s all just a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

Fish and the other water-breathing animals (if water-breathing is correct) just aren’t natural. Yes, I know some, such as lobsters, have legs to walk on the bottom, so they’re a bit more natural, but they are still water-logged excuses for pets.

I guess we can call some varieties livestock because they’re raised for food, but making household pets of fish should make a person a candidate for a rubber room at the laughing academy.

I think fish in a tank look surprised because they really are surprised. They spend their entire lives in shock over humans making a fuss over them and pondering how they can get out of the water long enough for a bath. Few people realize it, but the reason wild fish jump is to take a quick dip in the atmosphere to get rid of that fishy odor — it’s their version of a fast shower. You heard it here, my friends.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail:

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