Tropical fish #2

…Its a slippery slope to spend too much time wondering what your fish are thinking.

Youngest wanted to give them names, oldest declared they were too small to eat. From a lanky teen that apparently eats his own body weight each day, I found that faintly reassuring. The little fish would be not end up a plate. Strangely enough, no similar comment has ever been made about the dogs or the rabbits. We do eat fish on a regular basis, usually the processed stuff wrapped in what is claimed to be batter or bread crumbs. That might be sufficient separation from the little wiggly fish in the tank to save them. We have never knowingly eaten rabbit or dog.

Two fish stood out to me, in the wasted time spent watching them. I formed the impression the little orange and black one was possibly insane. He spent a lot of time racing between the top and bottom of the tank, time after time after time. Usually in the same corner of the tank.

On reflection, it is possibly foolish to apply a human opinion of behaviour to a fish. Especially one that is only about an inch and a bit long. For all I know about fish physiology and anatomy he could just have a problem with his balance, or depth perception or he could just get some enjoyment from it.

The other one was a slightly deformed blue and yellow guppy who reminded me of Oscar from the film “shark tale”. This fishy dude was the complete opposite of orange and black fish. He would hover mid tank, with his slightly bent back, wiggling enough to hold station, in an apparent state of serene calmness. If you have seen the film in question, you will recall Oscar was a lot more hyperactive than this, but it suited the animators to give him a more upright pose, and the bent back guppy defaulted to this same position.

They seemed, overall to be a happy bunch. I chose to shut down my unqualified wondering about their mental health, preferring to think of them as in need of physical care, like a bit of food, a clean environment, and space to be. It is easier to think of them as happy little guppies, than to hear imagined silent screams of despair at perpetual captivity.

The only solace in this line of thought is they were bred in captivity, their natural habitat is thousands of miles away, and they would not be equipped to deal with it anymore. They are possibly hundreds if not thousands of generations away from the original wild ancestors. Even if I had the spare change to fly them back to some little lake in South America, and the necessary paperwork to export and import live fish, I suspect their lives would be short and full of terror. It appears they have been bred to be some sort of mobile art work gracing my dinning room. We all gravitate to a thing in life, this is theirs, and mine is to try to do the right thing to keep them alive, keep tummies full, and environment satisfactory.

Then the little yellow one died.

He had been in my care of ten days, and he died. Now we had five fish and a corpse. Great….

He had clearly had a final moment of fishy clarity, and popped his clogs or his fins, in a clear area of gravel. That made body recovery slightly easier. No less palatable, but easier. One of the many things we do not possess from the home aquarium and fish-keepers list of useful things to have, is a net. The depth of water is not an issue, provided I remember to roll my sleeve up this time. The thought of unintentionally squashing the corpse between clumsy fingers and having bits of fish all over the tank was not a welcome outcome. Its a wet and slippery thing, this could have gone horribly wrong.

In the end, a pair of tweezers was deployed, and little yellow fish was recovered from the tank.  Being an cautious optimist, I placed him into a small plastic pot, and gently prodded him several times to make sure he was not playing a fast one. No obvious injuries, no apparent growths, mouldy patches, just a dead fish.

Thus it was apparent he would swim no more, there was the matter of disposal. A very short Ceremony by the toilet, consisting of a tip into the bowl, a flush ( the long flush, not the short one ) and a pause to make sure he stayed flushed.

I don’t know what he died of, and when I admitted, somewhat shamefully, to the fish store guy that I had lost one to unknown causes, his reaction surprised me. I was expecting a mild rebuke or a lecture on how it was my responsibility to look after it, and how I had been entrusted with its welfare, and now I had let him down, the rest of the fish down, the shop down, and myself down. What I got, was a shrug, and a comment along the lines of,  it happens,  never mind,  the rest are alive,  are you looking for anything in particular?

My status as an idiot in the eyes of the fish store guy remains confirmed.

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