Friday, March 28, 2008

If Wishes Were Fishes

I'm not sure whether to call this little fish Methuselah or Lazarus. I always refer to him as Methuselah because (as I've mentioned in a previous post) he looks like he's 969 years old. When I look at our four fish and I assess the probable mortality chronology, it is our blind fish that has lost all his color and that Fred literally has to hand feed (Fred has a very kind heart) that I'm guessing is going to be the next to take the plunge into the big canal in the sky - and quite literally the one near our apartment.

So yesterday afternoon, I was walking by the fish bowls and I saw what you see in the picture below. It's not a picture of a dead fish. It's a picture of a fish who looks freshly dead - he hasn't yet floated to the top. But then his roommate, Big Red, swam by, nudged him and he woke up and swam around. Then, during the evening, Fred said, "Look," and pointed to the fish bowls. There was Methuselah, floating at the top like fish do when they're ready to be scooped out. But then a few minutes later, he was swimming around the bowl like he'd just had a refreshing nap. This kept happening. Before I went to bed last night, I said, "Good-bye, Methuselah. You've been a good fish. Thanks." I completely expected him to be dead by morning.

Nope. He is still swimming today. I just fed him. We practically have to put it in his mouth, but he's not afraid. He knows where to get the food. In keeping with the biblical name references, I might just call him Lazarus for his last few days.

He was (I believe) originally one of The Sharks. They were a fierce pair that chased each other around and around all day and tormenting the third fish who was housed there for a short while. They were nuts. Now he's a tottering old man who's lost his color and his sight. And he's gotten smaller. He's had a good life. I won't be sad when he's gone, but I'll miss him.

Then there's one of the new ones who is not doing well. (Notice I've quit naming them.) They're just "the new ones." The other night when Fred was feeding them, he said, "That one will die soon. He's not eating." I don't like that kind of talk. I said, "Don't put that out!" (into the Universe, I meant.) However, Fred may be right. (Again ?!) This fish floats at the top tilted one way or the other. And he's got a little fungus on his lower fin. You can see a spot in the picture. It's not a good sign. Frayed fins, spots on the fins, etc. Not good signs. The bugged out eyes are just his look. I used to work in an office with a guy like that. (You get used to it, but I wouldn't want to wake up next to it every day.)

At one point last night, this one and Methuselah were both floating at the top, one in each bowl. We're having the dinner group over tomorrow night. I said, "If they're not dead by tomorrow, I'm putting the fish bowls in the bedroom." I'm not going to sit here having pre-dinner wine and snacks and have two sick, almost-dead fish in floating in the bowls. How distracting! (You're in my house, focus on me!) Thank goodness we're not serving fish for dinner.

At the end of the day, they're just fish, but we both want to make the best home for them. They're nice to have. It's a pain in the neck to clean those bowls, but it's a nice bit of movement and life (for the time being) in the room. Fred wants to get new ones when those are gone. I'm glad to hear that. I thought he might just be "over" the fish thing. In the end, he said, "I just want the kind fish where I can just throw in the food and be done with it."

No hand feeding of blind fish? That's not too much to ask.


Anonymous said...

I loved your paragraph at the end. How entertaining! :) Fish are hard, we have some big koi in the back pond that really are growing on us.

Littlelou said...

Very strange but thought provoking post..I sometimes feel like that very old fish despite being only 32! Other half used to keep all sorts of fish..he says goldfish like murky water but its so 'untidy' erghhhh!

Mel said...

I'm actually at a symposium this weekend on veterinary hospice care. If anything comes up on hospice for fish, I'll be sure to let you know.

Unknown said...

I have a small aquarium and have had to fish out the dead ones from time to time as well. It's hard to see them struggling at the end, though, isn't it? Nice post.

Andy Baker said...

Sonia, it's now Sunday and the new fish who was ill has been laying still, swimming, upside down, swimming sideways, and twitching all day. Yes, it's difficult to see them struggle at the end. (However, he made it through the dinner party with out stealing focus.) Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

And I thought it was just(or at least just Will and Travis)that killed fish routinely. Reading this post brings back those days. I am not sad they are gone.