So The Fish (Almost) Died

I had planned to write a blog about how the fish is dying and wtf, but it has magically perked back up! So spoiler alert: not dead… yet. But let’s talk about it anyway.

So you all remember that this is the situation in my house:


Not only does my kid love the fish, my kid LOOOOOVES that freaking fish. And because Kamel has washed his hands of all of my pet adventures since in his words, “everything dies,” I am the one left to care for, feed, clean, and stress over the goddamn Beta. Which we bought a tank for and a filter. Which I know virtually nothing about. Which I am mildly terrified of because of my certainty that any contact with the fish tank will immediately breed some sort of salmonella and give us all the unforgiving squirts.

Yay fish!

So after tending to the tank water and cleaning it and feeding it almost regularly, I noticed that the pretty flowing fish fins were all sucked into each other and sad. And that the fish kept hiding behind the filter, staying very still, making me think it was dead many many times. I’d shake the tank and it would come out of its stupor and swim around for a second.

At first I thought: Oh, it’s sleeping. Ok.

Then I thought: Oh, this is not good.

Then I googled and realized that my fish had a lot of those characteristics – the fin thing and the hiding in small places thing. So I figured, well shit my fish is sick… must be water quality. And even though the last time I cleaned the fish tank I did add the water cleaning pellet in and followed all of the (VERY BRIEF AND SPARSE) directions, maybe something was amiss! So I decided to do an emergency clean immediately.

Kamel: You’re doing that RIGHT NOW?

Me: YES. The fish is DYING. I have to FIX IT.

Kamel: So you’re doing that …. right now….?

Me: Look away, pretend you can’t see me.

So I set to the task at hand, dumped out half the water, put the fish in a bowl, probably traumatizing it to an inch of its life, filled up the bowl with lukewarm water as they are tropical fish, and plopped in my water cleaning pellet. Which made the water SUPER blue. Bluer than I had ever seen ever. But wtf? Maybe that meant something about the water, maybe that meant that it was fixing something, maybe the blue would be good for the fish? Worst case it would kill it quick and we could get a new one? I am a terrible owner of fish.

After I put our poor Beta back into the now blue water and fretted over it, the fish stopped eating. It also started wiggling around all weird and terrible which, honestly, kind of grossed me out. It stayed in this terrible terrible icky state for over a week. I still tried to feed it once a day, or when I saw it NOT in it’s little corner being perfectly still, but nope. He was uninterested. Every day I’d come home from work and be SURE the sucker was dead, but it never was.

Watching it struggle was nauseating. I even wondered about ending its suffering early, but Kamel kept saying, “Hey, maybe it will get better.” My response to that was, “What fish have you ever known to GET BETTER.”

But then! One day it’s fins were less tight and mangled. One day I noticed it was not hiding in its little nook, it was swimming around the bowl. One day it actually started eating like a normal fish!

Holy shit the fish got better. The fish didn’t die… yet.

Kamel’s response to this whole thing: That’s why we can’t have a dog.


15 thoughts on “So The Fish (Almost) Died”

  1. I’m dying over here, not unlike the fish. 🙂

    I had a 20-gallon tank set up for years. Goldfish of all sorts (and cory cats and a loach) went in. Everybody died. Some took longer than others. I battled Ich a few times. Once, I did euthanize two fish and took a lot of crap for that. I’ve never had a beta, though, so I can give no advice. I can only laugh at the situation. Also, I can tell you that Gabe is young and maybe href=””>this is more up your alley…

  2. I am so glad the fish is doing better, you are a genius. My response to Kamel is: dogs are way, way easier than fish. As are cats. And lots of less work to, And they are smart and cuddly and interactive.

  3. I always had beta growing up and they never got a tenth of the attention yours did… I felt mine seemed to thrive on benign neglect. In fact, I got attitude when I cleaned the tank for days after. 🙂

    After beta, hamsters, dogs and cats (sorta), I feel like dogs are way easier. Not EASY, but easier than fish. <3

  4. Oh man, reading this was really stressful. I hope your fish is one of those that lives an inordinately long time so that eventually you are all wishing for him to die and then Gabe gets a dog. Mammals are not easier to take care of, and the only thing that pains my heart worse than the thought of my kid being sick or sad in pain is the thought of my dog being sick or sad or in pain (even more so than my husband, who is a grown man, and can hack it), but they are less inscrutable.

  5. Dogs are a lot easier to keep alive than fish. Also I’ve literally never heard of keeping a beta in a tank with a filter. Maybe that’s why Frankie 1, 2, and 3 kicked it.

  6. I had a beta fish that lived on my desk for many months (a year?) (and then for several more months in my room once I left that job and went to Mexico) in a small vase, and it would go through spurts like this regularly. I got her/him a “companion” pirate figurine in the vase because of something I read online and that seemed to help matters.

  7. I love this story on its own, but I love it even more because it reminds me of the great lengths mothers will go to for their children’s pets. When I was in 1st grade, I had a goldfish named Alicia. Whom I loved. Alicia got sick, and I was distraught. I told my teacher about it, and my teacher informed me that you could get goldfish medicine at the pet store. My little 1st-grade mind exploded with glee.

    Of course, my poor mother was just ready for the damn fish to die, but now her 6-year-old child was filled with hope. So she went to the pet store and bought the fish medicine. Each little tablet was designed for like a 20-gallon tank, so she had to split each tablet into multiple pieces with a knife, and then blend up piece of tablet in the blender to “aerate” it properly (according to the instructions, of course). She did this for like a whole week… and the fish got better. The day was saved. (Until, you know, it eventually DID die.)

    The moral of the story is: fish make the absolute worst pets, but moms are awesome.

  8. This was the funniest thing I have read in a long time. I love Kamel and his “this us why we don’t have a dog” . Mom remembers running home every day to fish out the dead ones that we lost in your fish tank. FISH…..what can I say? Love you tons

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