Continuing The Pond People. If you missed the beginning, click here to Meet the Mirlings
Against the nearest wall a shelf had been cleared to hold the empty fish tank. Flash watched as Father lined the tank with gravel and then brought in the bucket again to fill the aquarium with water.
He positioned an ornamental log in the centre then moved it to one side. He reached behind the tank, and bubbles ascended from a tube at the back. He added water plants in front of the tube and placed large stones around the gravel, repositioning them several times.
Molly swam up to where Flash was watching the tank’s transformation. She was followed by Flo, who’d been sent by Grandad to find out what was going on, and Walter who’d been sent by Sylva.
Bethany came in from the garden and clapped. ‘Daddy, that’s cool. My fish are going to like living in there.’
Andre spoke from the doorway. ‘They’d like the p-pond better.’
She ignored him. ‘Can I put them in?’
‘Not yet,’ said Father. ‘We have to leave it a day or two and let the tank settle.’
‘Even though the water came from the p-pond?’ asked Andre.
‘It needs time for bacteria to build up in the filter.’ His father checked the instruction booklet again.
‘What are those b-black things on the glass?’
‘Water snails,’ Father tapped the glass and the tiny snail pulled in its feelers. ‘The man in the pet shop said they help keep the tank clean.’
Bethany turned from the tank to the bowl. Fish and mirlings scattered, only to find Andre watching from the other side.
‘There’s something else swimming around in there. Like b-bugs.’
‘I expect they’re from the pond. They won’t do any harm. They’re live food for the fish.’
‘Can I feed the fish, Daddy?’
‘Not yet. Best to leave them for now. They’ll be too stressed to eat after their move.’
Bethany’s nose was pressed against the glass. ‘I think those are baby fish. They’re hiding.’
Andre’s eyebrows drew together as he peered into the bowl. ‘There’s one! In the waterweed. It doesn’t swim like the other fish. It’s flipping up and d-down, instead of side to side.’
Father joined him but shook his head. ‘I can’t see anything… isn’t it past your bedtime, young lady?’
Cries of protest followed him out of the kitchen as he sent Bethany to get ready for bed and Andre to finish his homework.
‘That was close.’
Eddy could be relied on to state the obvious, thought Flash. Molly, of course, could be relied on to lecture everyone.
‘We must stay hidden when they’re around. Even when they’re not, we ought to get used to swimming on our sides, so we look like fry wriggling.’
‘Flip from side to side, you mean, instead of up and down.’ Flash wished he’d thought of that. ‘But we’ll be slower if we try to swim sideways. They’ll have more time to spot us.’
‘She’s right though.’ Grandad was getting some of his colour back. ‘When they move the fish to the tank, they’ll throw us out if they think we’re insects. If they think we’re baby fish they’ll try to keep us.’
‘But the safest thing is to stay in the weed,’ Molly insisted.
Flash had no intention of being imprisoned in a bunch of weed. Imprisonment behind glass was bad enough, whether in a bowl or a fish tank.
Always assuming he made the move to the tank.