Monday, August 25, 2008

a fish with no name

When Amy gave out goldfish last weekend at her son's birthday party, I asked for two. I had mixed feelings about the fish. Looking at all of the little fish swimming around in the plastic box, I had said to Amy's husband, "I don't think these guys are going to end up living very long." And he agreed.

But I also liked the idea. I have not had a pet in a long, long time. And the pets I did have as a kid, my mom mostly cared for. I liked the idea of a little family pet. Andrew could learn about fish and their food and their little swimmy lives. And since I assumed their longevity was in question, two seemed like a good idea.

I nearly forgot about them by the time we got home. I pulled the bag out of the stroller with an "oh yeah." feeling. Followed by, "what now?" I dredged up all I could remember about goldfish, which wasn't much and made for them a little home. I found a glass bowl, filled it with water and found a spot in my kitchen for them.

Once they were settled in, and it was time to feed them, I was wishing Amy also sent us home with a guide on caring for fish. I had questions like, 'how much?' and 'how often?' and 'when do I change the water?" Thank goodness for the internet.

The next morning when we got up, one of the fish was floating on his side. I summoned Dave to assess the situation. He declared the fish deceased and removed him. I looked at next one wondering how long he had.

Every time I walked by the fish bowl I would see the lone fish swimming about. I knew when he was hungry because he would swim up to one side of the bowl expectantly. He would get all excited when I fed him and would swim around in celebration. Sometime during the week, not only did I stop waiting for him to die, I grew attached to him.

He began to remind me of Isaac.

Also during the week, his bowl got dirtier and dirtier. The water was cloudy. There were lots of 'debris' at the bottom of the bowl. I was worried about changing the water. I knew it was risky. But the internet said once a week. So yesterday afternoon I scooped him out, poured out his old water and refilled the bowl. I waited for his new water to get to room temperature and then I introduced him to his new home. I fed him immediately thinking that the food might add some comfort to a possibly stressful change. But, he didn't really eat.

The food floated at the top of his water for hours. He swam at his 'feed me' area of the bowl, but I don't think he was asking for food. I think he was asking for help. Something was wrong. And I didn't know what. And I didn't know what to do. Back online I looked up "caring for goldfish", "helping an injured fish", "how to make your goldfish live for decades". I got information on pH, bacteria, water temperature...and still, I didn't know what to do.

Last night I fed him again, thinking some fresh food might be a good idea. I said good night and hoped he would make it until morning. When I got up, he seemed fine. He was swimming about and I thought we has passed our rough patch. But when I got out of the shower, and went to feed him, he had died. Just like that.

I'm surprised at how sad I feel about this. Especially since I went into this expecting a simple and quick life. I didn't expect that I would get attached. But I did.

Dave asked if we should get more fish. Expand our pet efforts. But I'm not so sure. I really, really liked our fish. But I did not like seeing him sick. And I did not like that I didn't know what to do. I'd like to think about trying again. Learning more, being prepared, becoming a good fish caretaker.

Until then I'll care for our kids and our plants and our dust bunnies. And that should be enough.

Good bye, sweet Fish. We barely knew thee.

A friend commissioned me to make a carrot cake for her husband's birthday. I sure hope it's good.


Firefly said...

I am so sorry for all of the little fishes from the party. I really dislike the idea of using living creatures as party favors. Poor little guys. :(

Rest in peace, little fish.

Miss Vicki said...

I am sad for the fish-but have no idea how to care for one.
Goodby fishie. Maybe you could get a Golden Retriever and name him "goldfish"

debs14 said...

We have a little 'garden of rememberance' in the back garden for all the pets our kids have had, goldfish, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits. It is tough when you lose them, but a valuable life lesson for children in caring for them and loving them while they are alive. Try a hamster next time, they live for about a year and are so amusing to watch and play with. My daughter's used to like being pushed around in Action Man's jeep!