Monthly Archives: September 2017

Eulogizing Fishy: lessons from a goldfish. Part 2

One year went by, then two, then three… by then, we’d forgotten all our previous reservations and we just loved Fishy to bits. She maintained some degree of sass, while still appearing adorable. If her tank wasn’t cleaned as per schedule, she would swim away when someone got close to her, splashing water with her tailfin.

It was just impossible to resist her charm. Before we knew it, we were singing her ‘happy fifth birthday’… Given the disappointment we’d suffered from the loss of our two goldies, this felt like a huge milestone. It felt amazing.

Though we couldn’t pat her or talk to her, we were able to communicate somehow. She expressed her emotions in a way that was relatively easy for us to figure out. Sometimes I would find myself wondering what she would say to us if she had the ability to talk…

Due to the symptoms Chibols and Finley had exhibited before they succumbed to septicaemia, I was always looking out for shredded fins and blood on her body. Luckily she looked perfectly fine. However, a couple of weeks ago, in early August, she started exhibiting disease symptoms.

Every time we fed her she would float at the top, with her limp body bent. Sometimes she would be floating, with her body upside down. When she wasn’t eating she was swimming normally. Due to this, we reduced her food portions and stuck to feeding her once a day.

Some nights we would go to bed, afraid we’d find her gone in the morning; but to our pleasant surprise, we would find her swimming, seeming as energized as ever. We got the impression, she was really fighting to be ok… Zealously, she would fight to get over what was ailing her. Two weeks ago, she appeared to have recovered so we went back to feeding her twice a day.

That, unfortunately, was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. She started floating with her body upside down again and by the end of the next day she had sank to the bottom of the tank. Realizing her health was deteriorating, we started panicking. This time we were almost sure she was going to die… and it was awfully depressing.

Mom, who’d also grown attached to her, kept monitoring her progress and subsequently she called a friend who works in a pet shop. He said Fishy had a bacterial infection and prescribed Sera Omnipur for her. All this while, she had lost buoyancy as her head seemed heavier than the rest of her body. She tried jerking herself up but no matter how hard she tried to swim up, she couldn’t.

The research I carried out indicated she might have been suffering from a swim bladder disorder and I was just praying it wasn’t permanent. Mom went and bought her the prescribed medicine.  At the pet shop, they warned her that Fishy’s halcyon days were behind her and that the medicine wouldn’t do much difference.

In spite of that, she still got the medicine and after administering it, we were still hopeful Fishy would survive. She had proved to us she was a fighter. Up until then, we didn’t know feeding her shelled peas was an option to help with the constipation. Since we hadn’t fed her for three days we tried feeding her the peas but by then she had seemingly lost her appetite.

Even while she was lying at the bottom of the tank, she determinedly tried to get up but her body failed her. It broke our hearts that she was fighting so hard to remain alive but her body wouldn’t cooperate.  We’d keep checking on her so she wouldn’t feel so alone and somehow it seemed to bolster her will to live.

What amazed me though, was that whenever my small sis tried talking to her, she would visibly shift into a different position, in an attempt to swim. I couldn’t comprehend that, but I imagined the two had formed a special bond over the years as my sis had been the one cleaning her aquarium; so she easily recognized her.

Sadly, one week ago, on Friday morning we found her gone. I knew she was going to die given her frail health, but even then, I was overcome by grief…I couldn’t help it. She had been part of our lives for six whole years and three months. As I looked at her lifeless body that once swam in the aquarium briskly, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss engulf me. I didn’t know a fish could have such an impact on me, or my family for that matter.

Now, days later, I still miss her. I was telling my big sis how ironic it is, that we grew so attached to her, despite the fact that it’s for that same reason we refused to name her. Taking into consideration how she fought unfalteringly to stay alive, I learned the lesson of resilience. As long as one can get air into their lungs, the battle is not over yet. The plan is to keep fighting; to push, until the end. Small as she was, Fishy taught me that.


Eulogizing Fishy: lessons from a goldfish. Part 1

Keeping pets, whether they are of gargantuan size, or are as tiny as an ant, has a huge impact on the owner/keeper in my humble opinion. This, I have learned all on my own. Wonder how? I’ll expound on that. Six and a half years ago, one of the two goldfish we had died. We didn’t know what the cause was; but from recent researches I’ve come to the conclusion that it was septicaemia. Her fins appeared shredded, and she seemed to be bleeding from various parts of the body.

At the time, my sisters and I didn’t know much about rearing fish so we were depending mainly on our aquarist’s advice. He had gifted the aquarium to my small sis, and would come every once in a while to clean it. All he had tasked us with was doing weekly water changes. After a while we parted ways with him, so it was upon us to decide how we were going to keep the aquarium clean.

Personally, I had tried touching the goldfish once, when he was showing us how to clean the aquarium, but I found them too slimy for comfort. That was the first and last time (to date) I attempted to touch a live fish. My small sis on the other hand, didn’t find the sliminess an issue so by default she took over the responsibility of cleaning the aquarium. The only things I helped with were the part water changes and feeding.

As I have pointed out, we didn’t know much about fish so we were nurturing our goldies on a trial and error basis. For starters, we didn’t understand that feeding them too much was an issue. If I knew then, what I know now, those precious goldies might have lasted longer than they did. I remember when one of them (the female) started seeming inactive, we’d throw some pellets in the aquarium, since we’d figured they always seemed psyched up when they were being fed.

Little did we know that she was constipated and the food was only aggravating the situation. Next thing we knew, she was lying upside down, lifeless at the bottom of the aquarium. That was a sad day. Anyhu… I’m digressing…

When the aquarist showed us how to tell the sexes apart, we had named the female Finley, and the male Chibols. These two names were borrowed from a game my big sis had been playing on tagged at the time, and those were her goldfish’s names. Slowly, we got attached to the two. When Finley died, mom replaced her with another female, so Chibols wouldn’t get so bored, and to avoid ‘turf wars’ between males…

This new female that was brought into the aquarium seemed a bit aggressive and she always seemed to be chasing Chibols around. To avoid the emotional attachment, my sisters and I agreed we wouldn’t give her a personalised name, so that when she died we wouldn’t be overcome by grief like we had when Finley passed on. By consensus, we settled on the name ‘Fishy’.

A few months later, Chibols also succumbed to what seemed like Septicaemia. It was heart-wrenching! My sisters and I collectively agreed fish rearing wasn’t our thing. Ergo, we decided that when Fishy died, which we assumed would be sooner rather than later, we wouldn’t be bringing in more replacements. Discouraged, we continued tending to our only surviving goldie.