Getting rid of Bitty turned out to be a mistake. Max demanded to know where his pet had gone. Upon learning that Bitty had been returned to the pond (“to be with his friends…”), he threw an epic fit. It was so incredibly heart-rending and long, we all piled in the car. Destination: Pet store.
The main pet store in Maha Sarakham is five minutes from our house, but it seemed like ages with Max screaming the whole way. The last time I’d been there was a few years before, to buy charcoal for my DIY air/water purification project (mission status: Incomplete). I had been horrified to see the neglect of the fishtanks on display; a couple of them were filled with the black, rotting corpses of goldfish bobbing violently as the pumps merrily bubbled away. This time, there were no such horrors. We bought Max the smallest possible tank (ten inches by six?) with gravel and a pump, and decided on two attractively striped little bitties. We didn’t know it at the time, but this tank contained an anomalous zone with Strange Occurrences.
The best way to describe the Occurrences is with a timeline of the less than one-month span the aquarium was actually in operation, plus the follow-up period:
- Day 1: The attractively striped bitties spend a happy night together.
- Day 2: Daddy finds a small freshwater crab outside in the yard (they crawl over from the pond across the street, or up from the drainage pipes), and puts it in the tank.
- Day 3: One of the bitties disappears; there is zero trace of him.
- Day 8: The crab molts, and for a day, it looks like there are two crabs (Nam is convinced that daddy put another, immobile crab in the aquarium).
- Day 9: The molted shell disappears, apparently eaten by the crab to stave off osteoporosis.
- Day 20: Nanny finds a HUGE male crab with a claw the size of the entire smaller crab; we put it in the tank.
- Day 23: Somebody puts red sticky rice in the aquarium and the water turns soupy pink. The crabs grow pink fuzz on their shells.
- Day 26: The remaining bitty disappears, also with zero clues left as to what actually happened.
- Day 27: Since Max lost interest in the aquarium and there are no actual bitties left, daddy makes the executive decision to let the crabs go and save the electricity used to keep the pump running.
- Day 28: The aquarium, emptied of water and left outside, suddenly cracks as if in protest.
- Day 35: The nanny’s hand is cut as she tries to move the broken aquarium.
- Day 40: The aquarium disappears without a trace.
So the main mystery is: What happened to the fish? The simple explanation is that the crabs ate them. However, although this is perhaps a reasonable explanation for the second fish, the first fish was nearly as big as the small crab (the big crab wasn’t yet in the tank when the first fish disappeared). And there are other questions/factors as well:
- Do these types of crabs eat live fish? They didn’t seem to like meat as far as I could tell.
- The crabs did like goldfish pellets and were fed twice daily
- Even if the crabs did catch the fish, it seems unlikely they could have eaten them entirely, leaving no trace at all
- Daddy did look to see what was happening in the tank at least twice a day, during feeding time
The other major possibility is that the fish jumped out of the tank, but I never found them. The area around the table the tank was kept on was cluttered with baby seats and toys and whatnot, but I looked around everywhere more than once and still didn’t find anything.
Not having a satisfactory answer and not knowing eventually led me to consider alternative explanations:
- Wormhole (did they warp away?)
- Evolution (did they walk away?)
- Outside predation (did an errant albatross enter my house unnoticed?)
- Astral Travel (did they have an out of body experience so good they decided to stay there – and teleport their bodies away as well?)
- Alien Death Ray (did ET screw with my bitties?)
- Sashimi (did Mina dare Max to swallow them whole? Did some wasabi and shoyu disappear as well?)
I fear I will never know.
Does anybody out there have a better guess?