We’ve been caring for our goldfish for six-and-a-half years now – October 2011 will mark 7 years since my mother handed game tickets and warned us “not to play the game you win goldfish.”
We came home with 4.
We kids were determined to keep these fish alive, and borrowed (permanently) Ziploc containers from the kitchen for the fish and “fish food” from the supermarket (it turned out to be Beta food but we didn’t know that at first.)
Possibly because we fed it Beta fish food or because goldfish are goldfish, they lasted maybe a week. We were sorely disappointed and wanted more, so when our classmate and neighbor called us to save their last surviving goldfish from her little siblings, I ran across the street with a styrofoam bowl, and carefully brought “Zoe Hammie Wren” to our home. (Named after all three characters of Baby Blues; we don’t know whether it’s a he or she, and with 8 siblings everyone calls it something else)
I could describe this two-inch-long goldfish without a tail in one word: Survivor. When we saw the little fish wasn’t dying anytime soon, we all but drove my parents to PetCo, emerging with $40 worth of fish tank, stones & decor, goldfish flakes and oh…a pretty Beta fish (we still had the old food ;)), so the goldfish wouldn’t get lonely.
I felt so nice dumping the pretty blue Beta out of it’s teeny little container into a spacious tank with a ‘buddy’…whatt a mistake!
Right off the bat we knew they didn’t hit off. What we didn’t know is Beta fish are notoriously territorial (hence the size of their containers, duh) and no matter the space, they will fight until you leave- to death, as we learned quickly.
It was a daily splash war as the blue beta chased the goldfish around, and soon the goldfish wasn’t looking so good- white, pale, listless…and afraid.
It came to a head when the blue beta actually bit our goldfish’s tail off.
Making an intervention, my mom moved Beta out of the tank to a small (fish-shaped) open bowl next to the tank; we had learned our lesson.
The next afternoon my mom showed up to lunch during school to ask me if I had seen the Beta fish.
“Seen it? Like it walked away? Huh?” we asked, confused. When I came home from school, I saw it with my own eyes. The beta fish’s bowl was empty.
We called PetCo that night. My mom spoke.
“Excuse me, have you heard of disintegrating Beta fish?” my mother asked, expecting customer service to hang up on her.
The worker asked if we had moved our fish recently, and we said yes. She explained it had happened before; the territorial Beta, when moved, gets so angry it will literally jump out of the bowl- committing fish-suicide, essentially.
We found it, rolled under the heater next to the coffee table that held the tank. Ewww.
Our goldfish made a rapid recovery. It gained weight, turned the proper orange-gold, and regained spurts of her tail (only a girl could survive that!).
Every Passover, we lend our fish to the neighbors to care for, since fish food has the leaven ingredients. They love it, their kids love it, but were always so happy to see it come home. Whenever we leave home or arrive home, it’s always a “how’s the fish?” or the occasional call from overseas, “She still alive? Just checking.”
Yeah, I think she’s a she, and she’s a Survivor. Catchy name.