Tag Archives: betta fish

A Fish Tale. The End.

You learn a lot about people when they are grieving for a fish.

After one-and-a-half years, at least nine lives and more medicine than I have ingested in fifty years on this planet, our betta, Bluestar, has gone to his reward.

When I say “our betta,” I mean, of course, the bowl-housed betta for which my daughter begged and pleaded and, not unpredictably, swiftly pronounced “kinda boring,” thereby bequeathing his care to my husband and me.  We thought he was neat-o.

Bluestar’s passing was not unexpected.  We had anticipated this moment for six months, which was when Bluey began to perfect his dead fish float.  Tim or I would wake up and shuffle to his bowl to feed him, only to find our blue-finned friend lying motionless on his side near his heater.  We’d gather the family around the bowl, say a prayer and plan the funeral.  Before we could decide which spot in the yard was most suitable for his final resting place, however, Blue would leap from his coma, take a crazed victory lap around the bowl and come to stare at us, his fins fluttering in what appeared to be piscine glee.

“Hey, lookit me!  Didn’t I look like a dead fish? Didn’t  I? Hahahaha!  So what’s a guy got to do to get a meal around here?”

As the months went on and Blue’s impersonation of Dead Mr. Limpet began to last longer and longer, he was less able to wring sympathy from his mourners.  Some of them, anyway.  Tim decided to hold his tears until we figured out a way to take a fish’s vitals, though he must be credited for continuing to search for new and better fish medications.

Carolyn, to whom I have turned for consolation and advice innumerable times in our long and enduring friendship is, I am sorry to say, crap at comforting the bereaved when they are grieving a fish.  Oh, yes you are, Carolyn.

Her kids had fish for years, and she gave Bluestar two of his favorite toys, so naturally I would appeal to her in times of concern:  “I think Bluestar is sick.  He’s growing white fuzz balls on his fins!  What do I do?”

“Take him to the vet at Wal-Mart.  Hahahaha.”

“I didn’t know there were vets at Wal-Mart.”

“Oh, sure.  You take in the sick fish, and they give him back–better than ever. Hahahahaha!”

“Where are the vets?  In back of the pet section?  I’m not sure our Wal-Mart has a veterinarian.”

“Wendy, just take the fish to Wal-Mart.  Your betta will live for years.  Hahahahahaha!”

“Carolyn, honestly, I don’t think our Wal-Mart—“

She made the sound of a toilet flushing.

Oh.  My.  God.  Without even a proper burial!

When Bluestar’s eyesight began to wane and he regularly over- or undershot his food, I bought a hand feeder.  Nifty little gadget, but it takes time and a lot of patience to get the hang of it, and Blue, as it turned out, didn’t have enough left of either.

Ironically, Carolyn was with me when I discovered, for the last time, Bluestar on his side.

Carolyn peered into the bowl.  “He’s faking.”

“He is not, not this time.”  I felt my nose begin to tickle.  “This is different.  This time he’s at the bottom of the bowl.”

“Wendy,” Carolyn’s lovely eldest daughter pointed out quite gently, “fish float to the top when they’re dead.  He’s probably just sleeping again.”  She said nothing about Wal-Mart, for which I bless her.

“Thank you, honey.”  I nodded.  “But Bluestar always did things his own way.  I’m sure he’s passed on this time.”  And he had.

After we buried the little guy, disinfected his bowl, toys and heater and packed up his belongings and meds up to give to some other family embarking on fish ownership, I began to contemplate our various responses to Blue’s brief-ish life.  I wonder if the way we each reacted reflects the fact that lately we’ve all given some thought to dying?  Maybe this is how we’re going to treat our own elder years, particularly when we come to the point where our mortality seems more imminent than philosophical.

Tim will be proactive but stoic.  Carolyn will request that her children set her off on an ice float like an ancient Eskimo, and you will hear the sound of her laughter echoing on the air.  I will be propped up with pillows, surrounded by costly supplements, squinting at my laptop and dangerously raising my cortisol levels as I Google alternative treatments.

It bears some thought.  Watching Bluestar live taught me how to enjoy life even when my bowl is smaller than I would like it to be.  Now his death is pretty instructive.

Our daughter, by the way, did tear up when she realized that her pet, the one she had chosen so painstakingly from all the many containers of bettas at the pet store, was gone for good.  “Is he really dead this time?”

“Yes, sweetie.”

“Do we have to get rid of his body?”

“Yes.”

“Is it gonna stink?”

“Not if we do it soon.”

“Can we have a funeral?”

“Absolutely.”

“And then get pizza?”

“You bet.”

“Goody!”

 

R.I.P. Bluestar

 

 

–Wendy

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Filed under Death, Humor, Pet fish

FUN WITH FOOD

Well, it’s Friday, and we’re supposed to be having fun with food.  Carolyn is probably off making a TUNA SANDWICH or FISH AND CHIPS and having a picnic by her koi pond.  (See her callous response to yesterday’s post in the comments section.  She tried to reply anonymously by signing ‘c’ and eliminating our avatar.  Whom does the woman think she’s kidding??)

In honor of the still-rallying Bluestar …whom I just realized I forgot to feed!  Dang it!  Hang on…

All right, I’m back.  In honor of Bluestar, whose appetite is excellent this afternoon, I am posting a recipe for MOCK Tuna salad.  For those of you who are not presently vegan and never intend to be, tempeh will sound weird, look weird, smell weird, but, really, it’s quite tasty and very nutritious.  Look for it in the refrigerator section of your local health food store.  I also buy it at Trader Joe’s and Fred Meyer here in the Pacific Northwest.  And now…

The Bluestar Special

1 80z package tempeh–Trader Joe’s is pre-cooked, which will save you a step.

1 T Soy sauce or tamari–or more, to taste

1 T lemon juice

1/3 C mayo–vegan, homemade or regular, you choose

1/4 C diced red onion or scallions

1/3 C diced cucumber–because my mommy used cucumber; you can substitute celery if you want

1/4 tsp. curry powder, optional

black or lemon pepper to taste

Whole-grain bread, cheese slices or vegan “cheesy” sauce, avocado, tomato, whatever else you want

Steam or boil the cake of tempeh for twenty minutes if it is not pre-cooked.  Grate or crumble it into a bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust the seasonings.  Refrigerate awhile to let the flavors blend then assemble a “Tuna” Melt and grill in a pan coated with olive oil or just make a yummy sandwich and enjoy. 

Wendy and Bluestar

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ONE FISH, TWO FISH, DEAD FISH, NEW FISH

Remember our Betta fish–the one we saved from the dreaded Ich?  Well, we didn’t.  Not that he’s completely dead, though he has a running start; he just never had Ich in the first place, apparently.   How do I know this?  To date,  I have logged 24 phone calls to various pet stores, 5 hours searching the Betta fish sites on the net, and  made 6 trips to pet stores near and far.

We have now spent fifty-three dollars on a four dollar fish, not including toys to cheer him up.

Carolyn, do not comment on this post.  I am well aware of your views regarding extraordinary medical efforts to save small fishies and plan to disconnect the garbage disposal should you come to visit before Bluestar dies from natural causes.

But I digress…

Bluey seemed to rally after we doused him in Ich cure, but then he got kinda raggedy looking and developed several new symptoms that, I swear, have put me off eating anything with a fin, probably forever.

Our most recent medical excursion was to a pet store about a half hour from us.  They had a very knowledgeable aquarium  expert, who sold us 13 dollars worth of anti-biotic.  It comes in only one size; there will be enough for us to keep Bettas for the rest of our lives, as long as they all develop bacterial infections, and we live to be a hundred and twenty-six.

“You’ll have to disinfect his bowl, rocks, toys and heater, of course, before you administer the first dose,” the fish guy informed us.  “Treat him for two days, then two more, changing 25% of his water on days three and four.  Take a day off, watching him carefully and then begin the process again.  Now, naturally, when you feed him, you remove every piece of food he does not eat.”

Naturally.

My husband looked at me…not happily, as he is in charge of Betta water and waste removal.

I looked at our daughter.  “Sweetie, why don’t you pick out a new collar for Autumn?” I suggested.  We watched her skip off in the direction of the dog collars and then I turned to the fish expert.  “Listen, how long do Betta’s live in general?”

“Two years.”

“Two years!” my husband exclaimed.  “He’s two years old already.  Are you telling me we’ve spent this much time tying to save an 80-year-old fish?”

Fish Expert looked a bit affronted.  “Sometimes they live to be three.”

I held out the anti-biotic.  “Where are the ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ papers?”

He didn’t smile.  “Your fish is probably only sixty.”

Well, that did it, hit us right where we live.  Tim will be fifty-two in November.  I turn five-o in October (it’s amazing how much closer that seems to sixty than 49 3/4 did.)

We bought the stuff.  We’re medicating, changing water, removing leftovers.

Why?  Because we relate.  We’re feeling our mortality, too.  Maybe hoping someone will change our water, buy us extra toys and drive all over town for the right medicine.  Although I don’t know; if I look like Bluestar someday, I think I’ll just go ahead and sign those Do Not Resuscitate forms.  And make a nice tuna sandwich.

For now, though, Bluestar is blowing bubbles (a good sign) as I type this.  And it’s almost time for another water change.  Keep your fins crossed.

Wendy

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Kids and Pets, part 2…till death us do part…

I have this thing about death:  I like to avoid it.  In people, in pets, in the tiny ants my husband tries to send to the great ant farm in the sky while I race around, scooping them up (I have a method) and removing them to the outdoors before he can commit mass ant murder.

If you’re ever ill, call me; I will be right over with an arsenal of home cures.

When my 16-year-old poodle was dying, I begged the vet to do his best to help my puppy.  “His best years are ahead of him.”   As my father’s 23-year-old cat lay gasping, his breaths numbered, I held him on my chest and implored the frail guy to rally.  “We can play with your mousie.  I’ll make fried chicken (his favorite).”

Yeah, I need therapy.

In the meantime, we are still working hard in my house to keep the Betta fish, Bluestar, from turning into Mr. Limpet.

My blog mate is, as many of you undoubtedly know, far more practical than I.  She has  suggested that when the life of a finned pet is hanging in the balance, the parents should make an emergency “vet” visit…to Wal-Mart.

“Wal-Mart doesn’t have vets,” I thought…ohhhhh.

Carolyn (I hope her kids aren’t reading this) has apparently taken many a sick fish to the “vet” at Wal-Mart, where they are miraculously healed and returned to their owners better (and younger) than ever.  I don’t even want to think about what happens to original.

I can’t quite give up on Bluestar yet, so we’re continuing to medicate, and I must say my daughter seems to be more accepting of any outcome.  I think that’s because her friends know best how to comfort her through times like these.

One sweet nine-year-old put her arm around my daughter’s shoulders and offered solace.   “You have to remember, he did a lot of fun things in his life.”

Someone else comforted, “We’ll never forget him,” and another looked in the fish bowl and nodded gravely.  “Yup, it’s his time.”

The best comment, however, and the one that cheered my daughter the most was simply this:  “As soon as he dies, you can ask your parents for a ferret.”

Kids.  So practical.

Hang on, Bluey, the chicken soup is on the stove.

Wendy

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Filed under Children, Death, Humor, Motherhood