Wednesday, February 06, 2008


My son's lizard hangs on, but tonight one of my daughter's fish--the newest one, a few days in our care--was lying on the floor of the tank, dead, when she came upstairs to bed. Was the tank too dirty? Probably, which makes it our fault, at least in part, which makes it harder.
"Man is in love and loves what vanishes,
What more is there to say?"

A hard night ahead of her, poor dear, and a long day tomorrow.


Laura Vivanco said...

Fish do seem to be difficult to care for, because the tank has to be the right temperature, the water mustn't be too fresh from the tap, but it also mustn't be too dirty, it's good to put in plants, but not if the plants have viruses on them which kill the fish. They get interesting diseases like fin rot.

As it was a new fish, maybe it was one which already had a disease? Or maybe it was a delicate fish and the transition to a new home was too traumatic for it? Maybe the fish already in the tank bullied the new fish and made it feel stressed? That can happen. Or perhaps the conditions didn't match the ones it was used to? There are so many other possibilities that I doubt it was your fault that this particular fish died so soon, particularly as the other fish she has are doing OK.

E. M. Selinger said...

Thanks, Laura. I think a number of the factors you list are true: certainly the fish seemed timorous right from the start, and the two in the tank already did bully it, according to my daughter. (It spent most of its time hiding from them.) Next time we'll have a water sample tested before we get a new fish, and make sure to vet the newbie before we buy.

Laura Vivanco said...

the two in the tank already did bully it

The story of your daughter's fish gives deeper resonance to the saying about having to choose between being a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond. Though I don't imagine it would be any consolation to her to think of her dead pet as an aid to understanding a metaphor.

Watching natural selection in action isn't pleasant, and obviously nature isn't just red in tooth and claw. When I was at primary school we once had a tank of frogspawn. After the tadpoles had hatched we began to notice that every morning there were strange translucent tadpole corpses in the tank. Eventually we worked out that the bigger tadpoles were sucking the smaller ones dry. I don't know how they did it, as they didn't have teeth, but that's obviously what was happening.