My father is a tropical fish enthusiast. All my growing up years I remember hauling water, checking temperature and ph levels, trips to the pet store, and hours and hours watching the fish with my dad. His hobby took up a large part of the basement. When my family moved from one city to another fifteen years ago, Dad shelved the tanks and their paraphernalia.

A couple of weeks ago he and Bella were watching a marine life documentary. She loved the colourful fishes and must have asked him a hundred questions. She was busy picking out the fish she’d like to put in her (future) aquarium when Granddad pointed out that those were salt water fish, and the differences between them and the tropical fish which can live in fresh water aquariums. Before long the two of them had gone downstairs and were setting up a tank and sorting through pails of gravel.

Every day he comes home from work, collects Bella and they go down to check the progress of their hobby. So far they’ve cleaned gravel, chosen rocks for hiding places, checked for leaks, set up heaters and bubblers, added bacteria fed them a few dried leaves to get the eco-system going… All those things I remember doing with him at her age.

I overheard her saying something to him about when the fish come out of the water. Since then she has informed me that fish can`t leave their “clarium” and that only special fish breathe air like we do. Her comment struck me because I was struggling that day with feeling very out of place. Sometimes I can slot right in, and at others I find myself stressed without quite understanding the reason and gasping for breath.

I love that my dad has taken up his hobby again. And that my daughter will have similar memories to those I cherish of those special times with him.