Matt Knutson: Help name the family’s newest member

Published 11:32 pm Thursday, July 13, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“Why does this fish tank have a remote?” I asked my wife while attempting to understand what in the world she had recently purchased online. In an effort to make her work area at work more cheerful, Sera decide a beta fish would serve as a suitable greeter to her cube. After anxiously waiting a few days, the tank arrived in the mail today. My wife promptly took our daughter to the pet store to pick out a resident for this new home.

Of course this isn’t just any fish tank. Sera purchased it from a kickstarter, which advertised it as a revolutionary product in fish care. Apparently the tank will never need to be cleaned, meaning we might avoid the past abuses our fish have experienced. The concept makes sense in theory, as a plant sits at the top of the tank to use the waste from the fish as nutrients. A light is attached above the tank, which apparently is used to clear away any fogginess that might appear along the sides of the tank. It seemed a little complex, but she figured we were up for the challenge.

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After several minutes of studying the tank, it became clear that we were out of our league. Perhaps because this was a kickstarter, or perhaps because we are terrible fish owners, we couldn’t figure out how to actually set it up. The instructions seemed completely foreign, though they were quite clearly written in English. The same part was referred to by multiple names, and the list of included items did not match what we actually received. Also, the instructions were indicating that this would take several weeks before being fish-ready, and Sera had just arrived back at home from the pet store with a fish of our own. The stars were not aligning for us.

I’d consider returning the fish, but our daughter is enamored by it. She’s been a long-time fish lover, and while she pronounces the word fish as if there wasn’t an “i,” she is very adamant about repeating it over and over again whenever she sees one. You can find Pixar’s cartoon Dory on both her shoes and diapers, and she was determined to come home with the Nemo fish stuffed animal when we visited SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium at Mall of America about a month ago. Fish was even one of her first words back when we were still teaching her how to say Mama. (Of course she had already mastered Dada by that time.) As much as this fish is for Sera’s office, I think it’s also a rouse to keep Gracelyn happy when we visit mom at work.

I wish I could tell you how this fish tank debacle turns out, but to be honest, we don’t yet know the ending. Right now the beta fish is safely in its container from the store and the tank is being prepped for use as early as tomorrow. The plant, which should handle the tank cleaning, was purchased earlier tonight — a green onion, as recommended — and soon enough we’ll take the plunge and release the beta into its new home.

While we wait, I thought it’d be fitting to give this fish a name. As we’re already undecided on naming our next baby girl, coming up with a fish name isn’t much easier. The last fish we had were appropriately named Jim Bob and Michelle after the Duggar family from “19 Kids and Counting,” since the girl fish promptly had a ton of babies after we brought them home. There are no signs of pregnancy in this male beta, so I think we’ll have to take different naming route. We’ve set up an email address for your suggestions, so please send your favorite fish names to to help us on this quest. My wife does work for a church, so please keep your fish names appropriate. While you work on naming our fish, I’m going to figure out what this fish tank remote does. Thanks!

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.