at 10am i drove out to malden to pick up dan and we made our way to framingham (via watertown, newton, wellesley, and natick) to tropic isle aquarium, reportedly the best fish pet store in eastern massachusetts. i got lost a little bit, went down 135 instead of route 9, but luckily i had my maps in the car so we were able to correct for the mistake.
i love pet stores of any kind and i've often called them the poor man's zoos with the added bonus that you can buy the animals (not sure if a regular zoo would allow me to purchase a tiger no matter how much money i gave them). shaped like a cement warehouse surrounded by a parking lot, it's hard to imagine what goes on inside judging from the building's outward appearance. only the entrance with its kitschy sign hints at things to come. the thing i noticed right away is the amount of security: iron fenced doors and 16-camera security system. but if my aquarium was located in the middle of nowhere, i'd probably want some theft protection as well. the front of the store was all equipment, tanks of all sizes, filtration systems, pumps, decorations, gravels, testers, fish food. in the back was the livestock, several hundred tanks featuring both freshwater and saltwater fish, as well as invertebrates like colorful marine shrimps, salamanders, and anemones. there was also a wide selection of healthy aquatic plants (CO2 injected? or just good lighting?). there was an amazing variety of fish, but i didn't see some popular ones, like cherry barbs or glass catfish (people probably come here to find something more exotic anyway). the prices were okay, $1.20 for neon tetras, 60¢ for danios, but it's easy to find a fish that costs 40x as much as well. showcase tanks dotted the store, featuring an inspiration selection of aquatic habitats. i wanted to get a nice piece of driftwood but couldn't find any. i ended up getting 2 pairs of red cobra guppies (2 males, 2 females, $7). dan got some headlight tailight tetras and an algae eater.
back at home (1:30 after taking the turnpike), i introduced the guppies into my tank. they're twice as large as the neons, but so far they seem pretty docile, despite their constantly fluttering fins. i noticed right away the tetras schooling again, something they stopped doing once i relocated the danios to dan's aquarium. the guppies seemed to be schooling as well, preferring to stick together, but would occasionally disband. although the shape of their upward-turned mouths would suggest surface feeders, i saw the guppies scouring the gravel looking for food, and even saw one eating a large piece of dead plant. one of the females seemed particularly large, either from overfeeding (which i doubt) or possibly pregnancy. if she does give birth (guppies are livebearing), the fries will either be sucked into the filtration inflow or eaten by the other fish, so it's not really something i'm looking forward to.
in the evening (since i still had the car) i drove to the cafe to get my parents and then returned to belmont to have some dinner, some home-made scallion pancakes. my sister needed my help in taking some photos of her self-designed jewelry, but i suggested it'd be a better idea to just scan them. nobody believed it'd work until i gave a demonstration with the scanner. happy with the result, she ended up scanning the rest of her stuff.
after i got a ride back home (before i got in the car i saw a shooting star streak across orion in the dark open sky above belmont), it didn't take me long to fall asleep on the couch. i woke up after midnight, the television tuned in on some entertainment show highlighting some celebrity gossip.