fishies #1 and #2 :(

I got Evan a betta fish named Yellow for Christmas and we were enjoying him a lot. Two months later, the heater malfunctioned, taking the water to 95 degrees, and he died.

I’ve spent more mental energy, time, and money on this than I would have expected. Obviously I wanted his first pet to be a good experience and these fish can be sensitive to all kinds of factors. I very much wanted him to live a long life. So I spared no expense on a lovely 2.5-gallon tank, filter, heater, gravel siphon, food, thermometer strip, test strips, and treats. We were in a good groove with Yellow and it wasn’t his fault (or our fault) that the heater cooked him, but I still feel sad about it, especially that he had to suffer.

I cleaned the tank, moved it to a new location where I could plug the (newly researched and ordered) heater directly into the wall so there would be no extension cord to potentially cause overheating. I treated the water,  tested it for 5 different levels using special (expensive) test strips, got it to the perfect temperature, ran the filter for 24 hours. On Friday night, we were ready to pick up our new betta.

E picked a blue one, probably twice the size of Yellow, with big, flowing, shimmery turquoise fins. He named him Blueberry. We brought him home and put him in his new tank. He swam around actively, even lay on his special leaf for a bit. By Saturday night, though, he was moving less and never did eat what we fed him. By Sunday morning, he was dead.

WHAAAAAAAAAA?! (not sure if this is a wah wah cry or a WHAT??? but sort of both)

I was the first to get up and checked him and he was upside down sort of stuck to the filter. No. No. No!!!

OK, guys, this is a little fish we’re talking about. We just had salmon last night for dinner for which I paid significantly more money. (maybe he was horrified as he watched us from the tank’s new vantage point off the dining room?) Still, it makes me sad.

Admittedly, his little bowl was very dirty when he got him at the store. When I called them today, the woman who answered the phone said, “yeah, seems like they’ve been dying more recently, I wonder if we got a ‘bad batch.'” She also mentioned that they didn’t get a new shipment this week (they do most weeks) so Blueberry might have been in that little dirty bowl for two weeks. (Yep, I’m done with that fish store.)

In that case, he was probably sick and it was nothing to do with our setup. Maybe I helped him be more comfortable in his final days?

Anyway, this is surprisingly hard for me. E is stoic. I was heartbroken (and crying) when I told him that Yellow died. I watched him process this info, first wondering if he could be just sleeping… but he had more curiosity about it than anything. We had a ceremonial walk to the toilet to flush him down. He wondered if we could get a lizard now (no). When I told him about Blueberry (not crying this time since we didn’t have time to get to know him), he was OK. It was even kind of funny that we couldn’t even keep him alive over a weekend. We had another walk to the toilet.

What’s hardest for me is this lesson: we don’t control everything, even when we do our best. It’s one of the hardest lessons there is.

For now, I’m glad that we’re assigning this lesson to something as small and not-cuddly and non-communicative as a fish, as I imagine this would/will be WAY harder when we someday get some genre of cute mammal. The life lessons of having a pet are real.

RIP Yellow and Blueberry

And you know I’m going to insist on a #3. (Maybe not today though.)

Let him/her live a long life!





4 thoughts on “fishies #1 and #2 :(”

  1. That cooking thing happened to us when I was a kid. We went away on holiday and the poor neighbour kid who was feeding the fish found a new dead fish every day and had no idea what was happening.

    This year, we got a tank for Christmas and it has been set up for about 3 weeks. Initial batch of 10 neon tetras is down to 8 and there is a constant war against algae! However, we have now gone 9 days with no additional mortality.

  2. I always felt that to get a pet is to decide your children are ready to learn about death. Sounds like Evan handled it beautifully. And you too—you poured so much love and care into this for your kids and the fish, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. Maybe there is as tough Thank kind of fish, like a little scrappy catfish or something, or a crowd of minnows?

    Love you and miss you,

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