Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fish, Interrupted

Wow. A couple more days and it would have been two months since my last post. That's pretty pathetic blogging if you ask me. Two months since my trip to Bath and Body Works and the pet store. Actually, just to the right of me on the counter sits a reminder of the pet store that I left out of my blog story. Not only did we come home with the birthday gift, but also a little blue Beta fish that Bethany picked out and named Melody. She's a nice little pet, but I must admit I thought she'd be dead by now. In all honesty I bought her as more of a novelty then the long-term commitment she has become. I'm getting kind of tired of changing her water and remembering to feed her, especially since the kids have long since lost interest (something I'll have to remember in 5 years when they're begging us for a dog).

I think my mistake was in passing up my original idea of buying the 12 cent feeder fish, who would certainly have been flushed by now, and going all-out on the two dollar Beta. After bringing her home and doing a cursory Google on Betas, I learned that they are bred to be lab fish so they are a particularly hearty species. This would explain her remarkable tenacity, even in the wake of two suicide attempts. The first was the most traumatic. Matthew walked in the door and saw an empty fish bowl and little Melody laying motionless on the kitchen counter. We had no idea how long she'd been out of the water, but we guessed at least 25 minutes. She was dry as a bone and we were sure she was a goner. Nevertheless, we plopped her back into the water and gave her a couple light finger flicks in lieu of a fishy defibrillator and hoped for the best. While she clung to life in her glass ICU we again consulted Google. Had we failed as fish parents? Was her bowl just too confining? Had we been ignoring tell-tale signs of emotional trauma? What if all of those trips to the surface when she would mouth incessantly at the face of the water were not signs of hunger at all but actually silent cries for help? But before the guilt could really set in, we soon discovered as we read a little more in depth that Betas are notorious jumpers, and we were not alone. There are actual fish chat rooms where owners tell their tales of woe and offer suggestions on how to keep your Beta in the bowl. At least we could sleep at night knowing she was predisposed to this kind of behavior and we would just have to do our best under the circumstances.

After resting at the bottom of the bowl for 24 hours, losing part of her back fin, and changing several different colors, Melody did go on to make a full recovery. She once again attempted to take her own life just a few weeks ago, but was only out of the water for a few minutes. We've since moved her to a slightly larger bowl with a lower water level and given her a live plant to swim around and eat off of. She seems to be pretty content at this point, but I still check the bowl every time I walk by to make sure there's still a fish in there. This is definitely a bit more than I signed up for that January afternoon, but I think it's safe to say that Melody the Beta fish is here to stay.


Sue said...

I'm so glad you're back! I miss you when you're away so long.

Heather said...

Wow...keep us posted on the suicidal fish.

Stacy said...

Don't blame yourself. There as nothing that you could have done.

Elspeth said...

Good post.