It started out easy enough. For my oldest son's 3rd birthday, we decided to get him a fish tank. What a soothing and educational gift...don't you think? Anyway, buy a tank, some rocks, a few fish and that's really it. There are a few maintenance items that have to be tended to about twice a month like vacuuming the rocks, changing the filter and replacing the water. But other than that, and feeding the docile creatures, it is really easy.
So we start with a 10 gallon tank a few neon fish, some painted glass fish and a sucker fish we named "Slurpee." (He was named after "Slippery Soap" on Blue's Clues.) The little fish didn't last too long. The idea of having pets with little to no work was dashed after discovering things like my 2nd son trying to make a seaplane out of a small plastic airplane. Hot Wheels don't float and neither do coins. Slurpee DID survive and managed to grow from his original 2 inches long to about 6 inches.
When we moved to our new house, we painstakingly fished out all finned critters and bagged them. We emptied the tank. Upon arriving at our new home, we washed the tank, replaced the rocks and plants, "doctored" the water and transferred the fish. All but Slurpee croaked. We went to the pet store and bought half a dozen bright orange fish that we soon found out were sword tails.
The sword tails seemed to adapt well enough. So well, in fact, that they (the fish) deemed it appropriate to participate in a little AHP (aqua-hanky-panky.) When it was discovered that there were about 20 babies, we decided to get rid of them. I didn't flush them. Even though I never feel attached to things such as fish, I'm a bit too tender hearted to quash any type of life. SO, I scooped them out and donated them to a science teacher.
Imagine my surprise when I came home and discovered one lone baby. I had isolated the 2 known males (evidenced by their black, sword-like tails). I prayed that the little fella would soon sport a tail of his own. A few months later realized that our 50/50 odds fell on the side of female. A few months after that, EVERYTHING orange (around 40) was donated to a pet store.
Since Slurpee was alone, we decided to get ONE FISH. What can ONE FISH do alone? (The thoughts are a bit disturbing, but reality is reassuring.) My oldest decided to get a Siamese Fighting Betta. He was a beautiful fish. He was purple with flowing fins. He got along well with Slurpee....seeing as how Slurpee was a good 5 times bigger....and they coexisted nicely.
We purchased Betta food and replaced plants. AND, because my son is how he is, we named him Betta....that was the name on the container. Get it? ANYWAY, Betta was with us for about 2 1/2 years....until a few weeks ago.
We knew something was wrong when we went to feed the fish and noticed Betta lying on the rocks. Dead! So, DH got the net and went to fish him out. Pun intended. As soon as the net brushed him, he took off. It was weird. I mean, he didn't look right, but still...he's alive. We can't flush a live fish. That is cruel.
I don't know if it's possible to bond with a fish. If so, I guess I bonded as well as one could. When I turned on the light, he would swim to the top to wait for food. He would come to the glass when I would tap it. He would float close enough to the top to be touched, and when I did, he didn't flit off like one might expect.
No, we gave Betta all the time he needed to expire. Finally, after about a week of not seeing him (he was in the cave), DH went, net in hand, to try to rouse him again. What he discovered was not a purple fish, but a scaleless white DEAD FISH! EWWWWW!!!!
I was not really sad. I had no feeling, really. The thought is gross, to be sure, but I guess that is the way of things. So, in a few weeks, we will go the pet store for more fish. I don't know the kind or how many, but a few things are for sure. One, it won't be a Betta. I'm sure my 2nd son will want to pick one, so we need to have 2 fish that can cohabitate with each other and with a large sucker fish. Second, they CANNOT have babies. I don't know what we'll do about that one, but we will try.
Goodbye, Betta. It was nice knowing you. I hope you are enjoying swimming in that great fish tank in the sky.