It seems as if red-tailed black sharks come from hardy stock. At least the one I have does because it has survived just about anything I’ve thrown at it.

I have a 10-gallon aquarium that has been home to a multitude of fish through the years. That same aquarium has also been the deathbed to most of the same aforementioned fish.

Most recently though, apparently I’ve been using the aquarium to grow algae. From what I can tell, I’m pretty good at growing the green stuff. I’d say it is a sure bet that I’m better at growing algae than I am at taking care of fish. There’s about an inch of algae coating the bottom of the tank and each and every rock and plastic plant is covered with the stuff. I figured all the fish were gone and all I had was algae, until the other day.
I went to look out the window near the tank when I saw a flash of red under the algae. Thinking I was crazy, I took another look, and sure enough, the shark was still alive. Holy cow!

I’m not talking about a shark like the one made famous in “Jaws.” Instead, the shark I’m talking about isn’t really even a shark. It’s a freshwater fish in the carp family with a deep black body and either a vivid red or orange tail. They can reach about 6 inches long, but have been known to get as big as 8 to 9 inches long. Most live about eight years. The red-tailed shark is an aggressive chaser but rarely bites or harms other fish. They are bottom dwellers and like dark hiding places. No wonder the shark is thriving in the tank.

There’s even some algae hanging out of the filter funnel that shoots water back into the tank.

I double-checked to make sure the shark is living solo these days. He most certainly is.

Before I’d gotten sick in November, the tank was looking OK. There were still fish and the tank was clear of any sort of algae explosion. I was cleaning the filter system and using pellets to keep the algae at bay.

Besides algae issues, there are issues with the water level in the tank.

If the water level of the tank is any indication, my house is dry ... Sahara Desert dry. No matter how many times water is added to the tank, it seems as if as soon as you turn your back, the level is way below where it should be. It used to be if the water level was approaching the tippy-top of the castle in the middle of the tank, water was added. Now water is added when the water coming out of the filter and hitting the water in the tank is so loud you can’t hear the TV.

One day, I fear, the water level will be hovering near the base of the castle before water is added.

Growing up, my mom and dad had several aquariums. My aunt and uncle had a gigantic aquarium. A neighbor had a basement full of aquariums. I do remember each having algae, but not to the degree I have. It might be selective memory, but I don’t remember there being algae to the magnitude that I deal with. My dad shakes his head when he’s down here and the algae is in bloom.

It’s become a ritual every couple of years to empty and clean the tank ... and all its parts ... and get it ready to become home to a new batch of fish.
I think I’ve reached that point. At least I thought I did, until I saw the shark. It might be better to see how long I can keep him alive this way. If I clean the tank I might be sealing his fate to rest next to Davy Jones’ locker.

Sitarz can be reached at 864-943-2529 or via email at jsitarz@indexjournal.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.