One fish, two fish; Red Fish, Blue Fish

When people come over in the summer and see the two Mr. Coffee pots on the woodstove, each holding a fish, there’s invariably a crack about our dinner plans or sadism.   For the record: we never fired up the woodstove while the fish were in the pots on it.

When my sister and her girls lived with us the second time (in the summer of 2006), they picked up two betta fish: one red, one blue, and then headed to the thrift store to buy fish bowls.  My sister decided $5 each was too much for bowls, and grabbed .50 coffee pots instead, reasoning they were a tenth of the price, and technically larger.  We named them “Red Fish” and “Blue Fish.”

Blue Fish made it until June 5th, 2008 and Red Fish died today (29 July 2008).

What do you do when a fish dies?  Blue Fish died late in the evening, and I decided to do something with him before Farmergirl got up and saw him, lifeless, in the bottom of the coffee pot.  (Bettas sink when they die).  I thought of planting him in one of the container pots on the deck, but feared the dog would unearth him.  I thought of taking him to the barn cats–great circle of life and all that–but it seemed wrong, and I wasn’t sure what he’d died from.  (Old age, likely, as my research indicates they’re 2-3 year fish under the best of circumstances . . . given that I’m not convinced our “tanks” were big enough, or our house (and therefore their water) was warm enough . . . I must have managed fairly reasonable circumstances as I had them both more than 2 years).

So what to do?

The euphemistic “burial at sea”?  Take my chances with a dirt burial?  Feed him to the cats?  Which cat?  It’s not like he was more than a canape.

Some years ago, when Farmergirl was 6, we got a couple of goldfish.  I was concerned, when we got them, what we would do with them while we went to China for 3 weeks in the middle of December.  What I didn’t know was how impossibly difficult goldfish are to keep, and so we lost both Princess and Joel well in advance of our trip.  After Joel was gone, I could see that Princess was ailing, and I looked up ways to euthanize a fish . . . it could have been a manual for a horror film: wrap in a towel and stomp on the back porch (agh! no!), add alcohol or vodka to the water (but how much?), suffocate in the air . . . and then this one: put fish in baggie with water, place in freezer.  The idea being that the fish would die painlessly of hypothermia.

I’m pretty sure Princess was already dead when I put her in the Ziploc.  And then I didn’t have the heart to take her out and bury her.  And we went to China, and we came back.  And everytime I opened the freezer, there she was, her blank eyes staring out at me, knowing I was a terrible fish keeper.

Farmergirl finally gave up on me doing anything about it.  She took her little play garden shovel, and the baggie of the Princesscicle and performed her own funeral in the backyard.

So I took care of these two, individually.

Farmergirl thinks she should get me another set of fish.  She thinks I’m in a fish funk.  But I don’t really think I want more fish.  It’s true: I did talk to Red Fish and Blue Fish.  I did tease them with my finger, and let them chase it and try to get it.  I washed their tanks (er, pots) out and gave them fresh water, and I even toyed around with getting one a little car and the other a little star . . . but just gave them a layer of shells in the bottom of their respective pots.  And I toyed with the idea of getting some Sea Monkeys to feed to them.

I also have enough fish food to feed a half dozen bettas for, um, several more years.

But I don’t think I want replacement fish, because I don’t think my fondness for Red Fish and Blue Fish is transferable like that, anymore than my fondness for the dog or the kid or the hubby are transferable like that. Granted, I’d say I’m not as attached to the fish as I am the husband or the kid or the dog . . . but I think the principle is the same.

So if you need some betta food, let me know.

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