My fascination with fish began a few years ago, about 2008, when I was asked to fish-sit my neighbor’s betta (okay, maybe I fed the dogs too). But he was your typical, red, veil-tail betta, and he was the coolest fish ever. He used to rocket to the top of his bowl and then float casually back down to the bottom. With his tail all fanned out as he gracefully floated down, he looked like an autumn leaf gently drifting to the ground. My neighbor and I would drink wine and just watch him. Total zen. That fish lived for at least 4 years.
She made taking care of a betta look like such an easy thing to do, so I just had to get one for myself. We were all very excited to have a new member of the family! AJ joined in on the fun and got to name him… Bob (because eventually that is what he would do… you know… bob, :P). No official tank stuff needed, just a bowl and partial water changes once a week, feeding once a day… easy peasy. Bob lasted a mere 6 months.
Being a new fish owner, I had no idea how fragile these guys actually were. The plants I had put in his bowl were plastic, and he had a ragged treasure chest/castle thing to swim in and out of (fish enrichment, you know). The ragged edges of the plants and treasure chest shredded his fins and he died. Yes, I cried as he was flushed out to sea.
Bob #2 was going to have a better life. Jamesy got me a nice rectangular 10-gallon tank with a heater and filter system. I got rid of the plastic and went with more natural feeling, softer plants. I also eliminated the treasure chest and put in a fun circular log for enrichment.
Bob #2’s new tank
I think Bob #2 lasted about 6 months as well… if. I didn’t know you had to cycle a tank to bring the water up to standard, so he developed ich. And died. Again I cried.
Once Bob #2 died, I decided to move onto a different type of fish… something that was more hardy and wouldn’t die so easy. Enter a school of neon tetras. Cool looking, but pretty boring. A betta has tons of personality, but tetras have all the personality of a sardine. So James went to the fish store and bought me about $70 worth of cool fish as I wanted him to pick out the next batch.
Tragedy soon ensued when I forgot to wash my hands one time before reaching into the tank water. The lotion from my hands created a toxic environment for the fish, and I lost about 10 in a matter of 3 days. That little incident is now referred to as Armageddon. There was 1 lone survivor… James’s otocinclus, a sucker fish, aptly named Otto. Have you ever seen these things? Not at all attractive. But oh, what a survivor.
Not my oto or picture, but Otto looked just like this.
My neighbor felt quite sorry for me, so she decided to get me a swordtail, supposedly a more hardy fish, and actually quite pretty to look at.
Not my swordtail.
Eventually she gave me a male from her own tank to go with my female. The inevitable happened… no, they didn’t die… they had babies!! Swordtails give birth to live fry, so I had all these little things swimming around my tank! I promptly went to get some floating plants to give the babies some cover so they wouldn’t become dinner or get sucked up into the filter! One actually survived the whole ordeal! This is Little Guy:
The mother soon perished after giving birth (surprise, surprise), but the male survived and Little Guy survived, who grew up big and beautiful. Come to find out, Little Guy was actually Little Girl and soon had babies of her own! THREE of her fry survived to grow up big and beautiful as well!
Five swordtails and an oto in one 10-gallon tank wasn’t a good thing, so James found me a lovely 35-gallon tank to transfer the whole family over… all except for Otto… he wasn’t having it, and trying to catch an oto is near impossible, so I let him be. Unfortunately, once again, 6 months after I transferred them to their new home, all 5 of them perished in about a week of each other. However, this little tragedy was baffling because I actually did cycle the tank and the water before transferring them, and my water was pristine. I even added medicine to the water once I realized something was going wrong. And the catfish didn’t get sick at all.
You’d think I’d give up by now, don’t you…
Fast forward to today… I now have 3 angelfish, 2 in one tank, 1 in the other. Otto died a couple of months ago from old age (!), and I’ve had my angelfish for a couple of years. They’re the only ones who can survive my hands of death.
Moral of the story: While having a betta is great fun, don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s easy. Fish are hard work and temperamental little bastards. And once you start, you will never ever stop…
Who owns fish?! Have you been sucked into the bottomless abyss as well?