Recently Rachel and I listened to Diana Waring’s tape True Tales: Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries.  It brought back memories from seven years ago when we first listened to it…

October 4, 2000 was a Wednesday – Science and History day in A Place To Read School.  We were studying the Fifth Day of Creation (flying and water dwelling creatures) and Attila the Hun.  Odd unit study combination, to be sure.  But it combined in an extremely memorable medium.

Being in the military, my dad usually thought it would be impractical for us to keep a pet, as the possibility of an overseas move always remained.  A few hermit crabs had been the most “real” pet we had kept so far.  Wild butterflies, salamanders, pondsnails and most whatever could be contained in a jar were oddly treasured by me.  In Uzbekistan I actually entertained the notion of hatching wasp eggs, which was not approved of by the maids who kept removing them from the sunny spot on the window sill I set them on (“…But I can train them to be good!”).

In fact, most of my interest in science and nature study stemmed from my early childhood desire to have a pet.

Below is an essay I wrote when I was 13 years old at an Aquarium Fish website that recounts an amusing tale in our homeschool.


May 6,

It was October 4, 2000 – an ordinary Wednesday for most people.  We were just finishing up our homeschool history lesson (which happened to be about Attila the Hun) when our mother said that she had a surprise for us.  A while later we went to the PX (as you can see, my siblings and I happen to be “Army brats”).  As we walked by the flower shop, we all stopped to admire the Bettas.  We could never go by the flower shop without stopping to gaze at the vases that contained the beautiful fish that swam beneath the roots of Peace Lilies.

I had always wanted one, but at first my father thought it would just add on to the list of dead pets.  To my surprise, however, Momma told us to pick one out right at that moment!  I had my eyes set on the more expensive red Betta, but because of its price I had to be content with a different one.  The fish we ended up purchasing was a male Half-moon Turquoise.  He was pretty enough, and we were all happy just to be allowed to own one!  When it came time to choose a name, Momma joked saying we could name him “Attila” because he was a “Fighting Fish”.  But I actually thought it would be perfect so the name stuck.  We were very inexperienced fishkeepers, so poor Attila had to put up with a lot.  We sketched him, wrote about him, memorized his scientific name, and much more.  I preferred to call him a “Siamese Fighting Fish” because it sounded more exotic than “Betta”.

There was one thing that was rather unfortunate, however.  We quickly learned that Siamese Fighting Fish were not supposed to be fed once every month or once every week.  They were supposed to be fed every day. I had heard that they could live off of plant roots and infusorians only, but they will not thrive on that type of diet alone.  In our panic (or maybe just mine) we looked up several pet stores in the phone book.  I was just imagining how horrible it would be if we starved our fish to death.  We went to one that was supposed to have only supplies for cichlids – but at that time I didn’t know what that meant.  We ended up buying the wrong kind of fish food.  Attila just didn’t like it.  I became worried that the uneaten food would foul the water.  So, Momma and I changed the water.  But we put in the wrong amount of dechlorinator.  At midnight Momma noticed that Attila was not looking well.  She fixed the situation in time to save him.  From then on I was more cautious about carrying out his weekly water changes.  We finally found the food he was used to – “BettaMin”.  He would have accepted the other food if we had let him get used to it, but I didn’t know that until later.

I fed him three times a day and changed his water once a week.  We would even give him tiny pieces of cheese or bread occasionally (which is okay if done in moderation).  I noticed, however, that his sides began to bulge more and he even seemed to have a little difficulty swimming.  It turned out that he was just overweight.  After that I only fed him twice a day and stopped giving cheese.  He really was a good fish and became part of the family.  He would swim up to the glass and twitch back and forth as thought anticipating the moment we would give in and feed him a treat.  We loved to watch him bluff at his reflection in a mirror.  He looked so fierce and beautiful.  But he was smarter than your average Betta in my opinion.  He soon learned not to bang himself into the glass and he loved to play with a shell that would float around in his vase.  He learned to put up with the high-traffic zone in our house (which then consisted of five children) and somehow tolerated the occasional appearance of little fingers in his vase.

Whenever we had to go out of town he would stay at my friend’s house.  She also had a Betta and we had to keep them at a distance to keep them from bluffing up at each other through the glass.  Bettas can jump as well, and I know people that have had odd experiences.  I even dropped him a few times when I was changing his water, but it seemed never to harm the hardy little fish.  Attila made large bubble nests quite often.  Out of curiosity, I calculated how many bubbles were in one of his nests.  There were approx. 402 bubbles!  He brought in a whole new world of fascination to me.  He lived for about two years and since then I have had seven fish and a small water garden.  I now have an aquarium and I still enjoy studying fish.  But my favorite breed of fish is still the Siamese Fighting Fish and I don’t think any other fish would make a better first pet – or first true science project for that matter!


Yes, Attila the fish was a big deal in my opinion.  “Half-moon Turquoise” is the proper fish fancier term for his black face/turquoise body coloration.  Since he differed somewhat from some of the frizzly European/American variations of Betta that I had researched, I entertained a romanticized imagination that he was directly imported from Thailand.

Attila The Fish

I still don’t think this photo does him justice.



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Monday, October 8, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by BlogBoy
RYC: We’ve been raising geese now for around 7 years. Geese often outlive humans, some of them living to 100 years old. We still have a 7 year old goose.

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Monday, October 8, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by DarthYxpu
Hahaa… yeah, shocking, huh?

I like this template. this is my own blog on my own site. But I’ve got it mirrored to my HSB so you are actually looking at my serverblog through HSB. I did that with an iFrame.


Oh, yeah, I’ll put you on my friends list.

that’s right!

I forgot about the banner trade!
Ok, if you make a banner (for yourself) that’s 160px wide by whatever pixels long, I’ll put it on my blog. I can still fit it np.

Ok, ttyl

Thanks for the comment!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by TheLordsDaughter
I just wanted to say hello!

Your Sister in Christ,
Rebekah ~ The Lord’s Daughter
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by Sparkles
Hello Amanda!

Gosh, I am so sorry. I meant to comment you when I got your comment, but I got busy…and forgot! But, thank you so much for the award! That was really sweet of you! I really like your blog too. It’s very pretty and you have really great posts. I especially enjoyed reading your review on “Becoming Jane”…you did a great job on it.

I hope you don’t mind me adding you to my friends list!

Jenna ; )
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007 – Old Fashion Girl here!

Posted by Anonymous
Hi it is oldfashiongirl! i can’t find what you’ve awarded me- but whatever it is i’m really happy! comment me with the details!


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