My fish are dead

My folks were so happy the other day when they told me they’d bought some goldfish to add to the tank I’ve had set up at their house since high school.  They recently decided to embrace their status as fish owners and own some fish they could “actually see.”  Back in the day, I collected aggressive, bitchy fish that chased each other around the tank, or hid from the other fish who were trying to chase them around the tank.  They established little territories every time I moved their rocks around, and they defended them.  I adored my loaches (botias).  My parents?  Not so much.  I intended at some point to move the fish in with me.  But I went to college out of state (and it would have been inconvenient to move the fish around so much), and then I moved out to the east coast (also inconvenient), and then I was back at home for awhile, so it wasn’t a problem – I was Head of Tank Maintenance.  But after that, there was grad school and various jobs and apartments and I just never got around to it.  A couple years ago I offered to find my fish new homes, because my parents already have a Very Needy Beagle, and I didn’t think that it was fair for them to have to keep up with the fish as well.  Plus, they didn’t really appreciate them.  There were 2 loaches remaining – one Striata botia and one Lohachata (I believe both of these species have been renamed since I started keeping them).  There was also one large Plecostomus (which WP thinks should be “Pentecostals), who’d been hired/purchased to keep the algae from taking over.  It didn’t have the best work ethic.  I was sort of surprised when my mom said that they’d like to keep their grandfish.  They’d never been attached to them before – not even when I showed them how you could play hide and seek with the more aggressive ones, who could be coaxed out of hiding to investigate movements outside of the tank.  They also taught their beagle this game.  He likes to jump up and look at the fish.  Hm.  Now that I think about it, maybe the DOG is the reason they decided to buy more fish.  They’d do anything for that dog.

It’s been a long time since I worked at the aquarium, but I remembered something about not mixing tropical fish with goldfish.  A lot of goldfish – the feeder ones, anyway – have diseases, and they prefer a colder tank than tropical fish.  Some people mix them anyway and have no problems.  We were not so lucky.  I was tempted to say something about this when they told me about their new acquisitions, but I was also touched that they’d decided to do something with the tank.  And my dad was so happy.  So…

I figured the goldfish would probably die.  Because pet store goldfish are not usually known for their longevity.  Also, because the loaches are aggressive.  But instead, mom emailed me messages from my fish this evening – from Toledo.  [If you didn’t know this already, all deceased pets go to Toledo.  It’s the pet afterlife.  I decided that back in middle school or something.  No, I don’t know why Toledo.  Why not?]  Spot and Stripe (the names my mom picked for them) went to Toledo today.  Poor guys.  They were really old.  Probably the stress of new tank mates was too much.  Possibly the new fish made them sick (either by passing along some fish borne pathogen or just by adding twice as much waste to the system).  And I feel terribly sad about all of it.  I was not a very good fish mom, or I’d have taken them with me.  I’m so sorry, loaches.  May you happily snipe at one another in the Toledean waters.

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4 thoughts on “My fish are dead

  1. This was a hysterically funny, creative tale with undercurrents (no pun) of tragedy and sadness.

    Sorta how I like me wimmenzs.

    Sorry about your fish. I’ll visit them next time I’m in Toledo.

  2. I should visit Toledo sometime since, along with knowing a few folks who live there and the pet afterlife being there, I used to think it was a magical country. This came from watching MASH with my Dad as a kid. Klinger spoke about Toledo with such loyalty and reverence that it was magnificently strange and other. I liked that.
    I think the reason it couldn’t be in the USA, besides just kid brain, was because I found living in Venezuela to be somewhat magical.

  3. It must be a magical place, J9. Let me know how everyone is doing – J9 and thumerzs – should you get over there before I do.

    I had a dream, Oberon, that my folks lost the new fish, too, but that my dad had decided they were going to set up a salt water tank instead. I was super concerned about this, as marine tanks are even more difficult to maintain. I woke myself up explaining to them about water changes and salinity testing. They were stubborn about it, though. They’d also purchased a house right next door to mine – so they could visit more conveniently. I like my folks, but ACK! ACK! They were busy decorating it with questionable furnishings. I’d have more exciting dreams, I decided, if I had more exciting things to think about.

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