Frustrating Fish

So a few weeks ago my co-worker friend T told me about a program called Pets in the Classroom, where you can apply for a grant to get a pet for the classroom.

Super cool right?

Well, the only catch, was that my boss wouldn’t let me get anything other than fish (lame), but I really wanted to add more nature to my room, so I went ahead. I’ve had fish and I’ve never had any trouble with them, so I wasn’t too worried. I filled out the forms, got the confirmation, and got my coupons in the mail. I was super excited, and so were my kids.

So Robby and I went to the pet store and picked out the tank and all the supplies and set it up in the classroom. We let it sit for a week to get acclimated, like you’re supposed to, and went and got our fishies the next weekend. We picked out a snail and a green cory catfish to help clean the tank, and we also got fancy guppies, thinking they would be a simple but pretty fish and they could have babies for the kids to watch.

Boy were we wrong.

One male died before the weekend was over (we purposefully got them on a long weekend so that if any kicked it we could get them out before the kids saw them), then another died later that week after some really weird symptoms. She would swim upside-down, fall to the gravel, only use one fin. It was weird. Then the kids and I noticed that the other fish had cuts in their fins and were missing some of the color on their fins. The male used to have a big beautiful polka-dot tail and by the end of the week the center of it was completely plain.

Robby came in Saturday and looked at the fish (he showed fish tanks in 4H, cause apparently that’s a thing) and he said he thought they had fin rot, so off we went to the pet store again. The fish lady agreed, and said if we wanted to try and save them we could use a medicine tablet, so we got it, gave it to the fish, and went home. The next day (Sunday) they all looked way worse. Huge chunks of their tails and fins were missing, and a few of them were swimming wrong. The fin rot was too advanced, so we ended up doing a mercy flush, and went back to the pet store again.

This time we got 2 mollies and a platy. I had mollies when I was in high school and I loved them. They lived a long time, they had lots of babies, they were easy to care for. But the male dalmation molly died later that week. The other two seemed to be doing well, and the kids named the fish; Molly for the black female molly, and Swimmy for the platy.

Well, we noticed that Molly kept biting Swimmy. And every time, the kids would completely freak out. I mean, yelling, screaming, the whole nine yards. Crazy levels of freak out. And, of course, today Swimmy died.

So now I get to explain, again, that we lost a fish.

And I am worn out. I thought getting fish would be a fun thing for the class. That the kids would go “cool, fish” and move on to the next thing, and if one died, then I would eventually replace it. But they are FLIPPING OUT over EVERYTHING. And they want me to fix EVERYTHING with these fish. I get that some of these kids haven’t experienced loss, and that’s fine. But I can’t handle 15 kids screaming and yelling at me about the fish every 2 minutes. I can’t take the guilt that I couldn’t save the fish. Again. I can’t take the pressure that I have to be responsible for not only the fish, but for making sure all of the kids are okay.

And I feel like I’m failing.

Because I can’t keep these stupid fish alive. I can’t explain why they are dying. Or I can, but I can’t do anything about it. And I can’t keep the kids from being upset, or help them feel better. And I can’t handle the kids freaking out about the fish and do the rest of my job.

I’m getting grouchy and short tempered. I feel like I’m unravelling at the edges. I just want the fish to live, for things to be simple. For the kids not to freak out.

I just want peace.

I don’t want to feel like I’m failing.