My sister April gave me a one-gallon fish tank last Christmas so we got two feeder goldfishes (Su and Shi – yes, lame pun intended) to experiment with, before moving on to more expensive fish. Wanting to show support for any “domestic” thing I do, Mom and Dad gave us seven guppies (also inexpensive) shortly after.
So for a while, all nine fishes lived happily in the same tank (the guppies are small and barely take up any room) until one day, I started noticing that there seem to be fewer guppies than before. Although Mom and Dad had warned me that in nature, the big fish gets to eat the little ones, I thought that I could intervene by giving the fishes more feed, thereby eliminating their need to eat each other.
Initially, it was hard to tell if the guppies really were disappearing but when their numbers got down to 3 – 4 and were easily to count, I had to face the reality that in deed, Su and Shi were following their natural instinct. Still, wanting to believe that what had happened was not habitual, I stepped up on the feeding and hoped for the best.
Then one day, I saw a headless guppy floating around. And to my horror, Su swam up to nip at the dead body, right before my eyes. Even now, I remember the goose bumps that I felt at that chilly, disgusting moment. Since then, I continued to feed Su and Shi but not without some grudge against them for “choosing” to murder their fellow fish when there was plenty of food and no need for such heinous acts. And today, we are down to [gasp] three guppies which means that it’s only a matter of time before it will be back to only Su and Shi in the tank.
When that happens, I will probably give them back to Mom and Dad, to be released into their tank full of much bigger goldfishes. Even though I doubt that Su and Shi will be eaten, it seems “right” (although somewhat sadistic, I’ll admit) to scare them a little for eating up all of their little neighbors.
Thinking about this made me wonder whether we’re sometimes like the goldfishes. God put us in this world (a fish tank of some sort) with many people, some “bigger” and others “smaller.” Although He “feeds” us and provides for our needs, sometimes we go out and hurt others in order to get more for ourselves or in trying to get ahead of others.
So if I were God, then we would all be in trouble. Not only would I be unforgiving of our crimes/sins but I would also have “an eye for an eye” plans to punish people.
But thankfully God isn’t like me. He truly forgives us and cleanses our sins. No matter what offenses we commit, he is able to look at us as “new beings” if we confess our sins and is able to help us flee from temptation and fight against our weaknesses.
Unfortunately, I don’t have such love or power. And Su and Shi can’t understand my will. So I can’t do anything but let nature run its course and continue to count the guppies each morning.
Maybe after this we will buy a Betta fish (which the tank was intended for) instead. It will be a lonely existence for the fish but at least it won’t have to worry about being the bigger or smaller fish in the “pond”
Incidentally, here are some interesting links related to fish.
“You’ve got fish! Building a backyard pond” (SF Chronicle article, May 12, 2007)
*My Dad actually built a pretty neat pond in the backyard but ran into the two problems mentioned in the article – raccoons and blue herons – too bad this article came too late to help Dad with his pond.