One day our son came home from school with a plastic bag filled with water. We were all packed and ready to go to Scituate for the weekend, to visit family. Inside the bag was a goldfish. Our son exclaimed, “We have to go to Wal-Mart! Right now! He needs food!”
First of all, what teacher gives every student a fish to bring home? We did not have a fish tank, and we couldn’t leave him in a plastic bag. I found a Tupperware container and slopped the fish and water in. I said to my son, “Don’t worry. He’ll be fine for two days. We’ll get food when we get back.” And then we left for our trip.
This happened about four months ago. The reason I even mention this at all is because yesterday I went into my son’s room, to dutifully change the fish’s water, like I have been doing ever since the fish arrived in our home. By the way our son, quite cleverly, named the fish ‘Fins’.
So there I was, bringing the tiny tank I had purchased months ago into the kitchen, to change the rank water. But I noticed Fins wasn’t his usual frisky self, darting from side to side. He was lethargic. I gently took him out with a net and put him in some fresh water. He remained listless. I emptied the water, washed the rocks and fake seaweed and the ‘Surf’s Up’ little sign I had bought.
When it was clean I added fresh water, along with a water conditioner, stirred the tank, and returned Fins to his newly replenished home. He remained listless, almost comatose. I sprinkled in some choice salmon flakes (our cat Boo loves them) but still no response.
During the day I continued to check up on him. I’d open the tank and stir the water, and once in a while Fins would stir. But then he’d (I am only guessing it was a he) became lethargic again, and his head would bob, as though he was bottom feeding.
My son came home from school with a friend and disappeared into his room. He was in there for less than ten minutes when he came out and reported the sad news: “Fins is dead,” he said. There didn’t appear to be any sign of sadness on his face. Perhaps it was because I did all the work; changing the water, feeding him, making sure the water was the right temperature.
I went into his room, and sure enough poor Fins had expired. His gills were not moving at all. Maybe he died of sheer boredom; swimming from one end of the tank to the other, over and over again. That would make any creature weary. Or maybe he died of loneliness. The only fish in the pond. Perhaps he was despondent and simply gave up the ghost.
I would have had a picture of him but I’m sure you can visualize a goldfish. I mean, how many people take photos of their fish? I can see of a cat, or a dog. Plus, goldfish all look alike. (Was that some kind of ichthyologic racial slur? I don’t know. Probably.) “Fins, and to all your brethren, I hereby apologize for my previous callous remark.”
I took Fins out of the tank and wrapped him in a paper towel. Only his head showed. He looked so tiny and helpless. Poor Fins. Our cats hovered about, sensing a snack. But this was one fish that wouldn’t end up in their maws.
I went into the bathroom, said I’m sorry, and ceremoniously flushed him down the drain, to some kind of fishy Davy Jones’ Locker. “Rest in peace, Fins.”
So now the tank, as you can see, sits empty. Will I get another fish? Probably not. I’ll empty the tank, and relegate it to the bowels of the basement.
And then I’ll wait to see what my son brings home from school next.
Um…does anyone happen to know how to take care of a platypus?
©paul grignon – 2013, all rights reserved.