"Don't pet the fish!"
This may sound a bit weird to your ears, but until relatively recently it was a rather common saying around my house. With five kids at home, we have two ten-gallon tanks. One of them had been devoid of fish for quite some time. Why? It's simple. Kids wanted to pet the fish. Obviously this didn't end well.
Where did they get this bizarre idea? When my now 12 year-old was two, we had friends who had oscars that would, of all things, come to the top of the tank for their snouts to be petted gently. I don't think this is common of the breed, and in fact, I've never seen it since, but I suspect that this is where this idea of "petting fish" got it's roots in my house.
My kids have minds like steel traps. If I tell them not now, but in 6 months, then in 5 months and 29 days they ask me about it. The same intelligence has, I believe caused the "fish petting" problem. The first kid wanted to pet fish. He's only 16 months older than the second kid, so he passed down this idea, and so on. Of course, he didn't have to get too old to realize that if you catch fish and take them out of water, they die. Unfortunately, there was always someone littler waiting to try it.
I'm hoping that now that the youngest is 4, we are past the "fish petting" years. It won't be too long before I find out if I'm wrong. Yesterday we went to the local pet store and purchased four goldfish. Hopefully no one will go fishing in the tank (this too, has happened) and no one will take the fish out to pet them.
Maybe, just maybe, fish will now be the calming, beautiful creature in our tanks that they were meant to be. Only time will tell..