We got a fish tank for my daughter’s birthday and put it in our dining room.
A friend gave us four fish: linia parugiae, unassuming, silver-gray fish
that endeared themselves to me by immediately swimming to the glass of the tank when I approached, just as the dogs rouse themselves from the couches and walk over to me when I come downstairs.
Our dinner hour has become their dinner hour: they bunch together in the middle of the glass pane closest to our table as we sit and eat, eyes goggling, fins swiveling, willing us to come and let loose their flakes. Almost immediately, within days, we became companionable, these linia perugae, native to streams of the Dominican Republic, and I.
A couple of weeks later, my eye caught an extra flash of something in the tank as I sat next to them at the table, and I looked again, harder.
It was another one, a tiny sliver of a thing, smaller than a baby’s fingernail, transparent but fully there, swimming up against the safety of some seaweed. I looked harder and found three more. The fish had had babies. Where there had been four, we now had eight.
How can it be that these tinier than tiny fish, released from their mama’s belly into an environment approximate to their natural habitat only in that the temperature is kept at a tropical 75 degrees and there are stones below and water all around, swim, fully alive, ignored by their parent yet able to swim and find food and grow?
I imagine these tiny fish in streams in the Dominican Republic, and tiny fish like these in streams all over the world, the life in the water revealed in the tank in our dining room, in the babies who, now bigger, swim over to us with their parents in the evenings, expecting their food.