My teenage son decided to simplify cleaning his fish tank yesterday by using our wet/dry shop vacuum to remove most of the water from the large aquarium in his bedroom.
I would like to note, for the official record, I was unaware of my progeny’s plan to mix water, electricity, and non-marine biology. Had I been made aware of his intentions in advance, I would have vetoed his plan, which is probably why I was not made aware of his intentions in advance.
He shooed his fish to one end of the tank, and put the vacuum hose into the water at the other end.
He seemed quite confident his little aqua-animals would be frightened by the vacuum hose, and choose to stay at the other end of their aquarium home. He was right. That’s exactly what they did.
Unfortunately, what I’m sure was a vitally important text message came through on his phone, momentarily distracting him from the task at hand. As he turned his attention to his electronic addiction, he relaxed his hold on the vacuum hose, just a little.
The vacuum hose, no doubt intoxicated by its new-found freedom, took the opportunity to rapidly relocate to the opposite end of the aquarium. And, before he realized he was doing it, my son sucked up all of his fish.
His error was brought to his attention, and to that of everyone within a 12 block radius, by my youngest daughter, who began to scream hysterically and repeatedly, “Spit them out! Spit them out!”
My teenage son, then, panicked, and hit the reverse switch on the wet/dry shop vacuum to attempt to expel his fish friends from the giant, sucking machine.
Now, I’m no expert on vacuum’d fish survival statistics, but I think this move might have worked out, had he placed the end of the hose back into the aquarium prior to hitting the reverse switch on the vacuum. But, as it turns out, in his haste, he failed to realize the end of the hose was pointed toward the ceiling of his bedroom.
The powerful vacuum-now-turned-blower rapidly expelled the water and fish it had sucked up, along with all of the detritus it already had in its storage bin. The force of the vacuum motor pushed the water, fish, and unidentifiable gunk up, through the end of the hose, and bounced it off his bedroom ceiling.
The water, fish, and sludge than formed a rain, which poured down all over his bedroom, leaving slime hanging from his ceiling fan, fish flopping around on the wood floor, and a permeating cloud of funky fish smell.
The precipitation regrouped on his bedroom floor, where it formed a river flowing out the door and into our upstairs hall. When the hall dog-legged to the left, the river chose to continue along its straight course.
It traveled under the railing, over the edge of the balcony, and down into our foyer, forming a stinky Niagara Falls, of sorts, splashing all over the shoes, sports bags, and sweatshirts my pack had dumped near our front door when they all got home earlier.
My youngest son dangled precariously over the railing to get a better look at the rapidly growing lake in our entry way. Upon seeing the displaced, flopping fish in it, he began chanting at ever increasing decibels, “P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, Australia! P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, Australia!”
Our dogs, ever vigilant sentries that they are, sensed a change in their environment. They rushed into our foyer to check out the situation. These quick-witted, canine family members evaluated the scene, and decided the plummeting stream was a stranger. So, in order to protect us, their pack, from it, they immediately began barking their frantic, ear-splitting “stranger alert” at the downpour.
Standing in our foyer, surrounded by barking dogs, flopping fish, and screaming children, I was finally made aware of my son’s plan.
As I gazed at our new, hopefully-temporary waterfall, I couldn’t help but think: