Sunday, January 10, 2010

Growing our family (no, I'm not pregnant)

I've blogged quite a bit about Freecycle, an online group that allows people to give away things they don't need anymore. The other day someone posted that they had a betta fish to give away. On a whim, I said, "Chickie, would you like a fish?"

"What for?" she asked.

"For a pet," I said.

"And then we would eat it?" she asked.

I had to explain that no, we wouldn't eat it, we'd keep it in a bowl. She agreed that would be a good idea. I emailed the person offering the fish, and a couple of hours later I picked it up.

His name was Fred, but I didn't have any qualms about changing it (unlike my hesitation to change Hammer's name.) I mean, really, it's not like he's going to be obeying my commands. ("Sit, Fred! No, sit!!) So I let Chickie name him, and she decided to call him Joshua, after a friend of hers.

I didn't check with The Engineer before requesting the fish, figuring he wouldn't mind such a low-maintenance pet. When he got home, I told him I needed to go pick up a fish, and explained the situation to him. "Then are we going to fry him up and eat him?" he asked. Like father, like daughter.

The thing is, I don't have any experience with fish (except the same type Chickie and The Engineer have--dietary experience.) Joshua is a dark red color, so his features kind of blend in, and the curvature of the bowl makes it hard to see him clearly at times. The morning after I brought him home, I checked on him...and he was perfectly still at the edge of the bowl, at the top of the water. As I looked at him, I thought he was even upside down.

I frantically Tweeted, "Our new fish is DEAD!! I followed the instructions when I changed the water yesterday! How did I kill him so quickly?!" I explained to Chickie that he was dead--I'd already told her the day before that he would eventually die since these fish don't live a long time like we do. She didn't seem too upset.

I picked up the bowl so that I could send him to fish heaven (conveniently located through a porcelain gate instead of pearly gates.) And when the water in the bowl sloshed a bit, little Joshua suddenly started swimming! I realized he was not upside down and obviously was not dead.

Oh..." I Tweeted, "he was just sleeping. But honestly he seems pretty...lethargic."

I was promptly informed by wonderful Twitter friends that betta fish don't really do much of anything and barely even breathe. All right, glad to know it.

So we've now managed to keep this fish alive for four days. Never having been a fish owner, I'm going to be thankful for every morning that he's not floating upside down (really upside down, that is.). Let's hope I do better with fish than I do with plants.

red betta fish

P.S. I wrote this post a couple of days ago. I'm happy to report that Joshua is nicely adjusting. Yesterday he was so much more active, and there were bubbles at the top of the bowl--I'm told this means a betta is happy. He seems to be really relaxing and I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying watching him swim around his little home!


Rachel Cotterill said...

I think I used to have a fish, but I don't remember it very well... I had mice and I remember being sad when they died.

Good luck with your new addition :)

Autumn said...

You know you can put a plant in the fishy bowl right? Has to be a specific kind though.... here's a few sites thanks to Google:
1) eHow Betta Fish in a Vase>
2) How to care for Betta Fish

The second one confirms what I said when you tweeted, it needs to be kept warm. Cold water = dead acting fishies.

Let me know if that helps at all :)
I love being research queen haha


Unknown said...

Want to see Joshua do something less than lethargic? Get a mirror and put it next to the bowl...he will show you his fighting face and why he is also called a Chinese Fighting Fish. Don't do it for long though because that will stress him out too much.

Anna said...

be careful about putting him next to a reflective surface, our beta fish was soo pretty with his fins out...the next day I noticed that his head basically fell off. Turns out that he could see his reflection in the thing behind him and he was "fighting' with himself, until he died...stupid fish.

Call Me Cate said...

I'm glad he's doing okay. My betta was a beautiful blue-green. But that didn't end well. It so seldom does. It's fun while it lasts though!

And when it's over, your family seems fine with snacking on him. Just, it won't be a very filling snack.

Eternal Lizdom said...

I was going to suggest the mirror, too. I fish-sat for a beta for my boss (it was his daughter's fish) many years ago and had heard about the mirror- and that little fish was really stuck on himself!!

I've got a little something for you on my blog on Monday...

2cats said...

I don't have any experience with fish. However, I really do like them. Unfortunately I think my cats would too, and that is why I don't have any.

Our Scoop said...

Wow! Interesting comments! We have a no cold-blooded creature rule in our house :) Mostly because we are bad pet owners. It's good to have some boundaries :) Good luck with the fishie :)

Scriptor Senex said...

I see someone has already suggested keeping him a bit warmer - it is usually a sign that they are cold when they act dead. (Either that or they really are dead, of course!!) At least Chickie is now prepared for it to be short-lived.

Angie said...

Joshua is the same color as 2, Paige's betta. We've had him since just after Paige turned, well, 2. He's almost 2 years old himself now and still going strong! Good luck!

Janell said...

LOL. We had a betta many years back (and have had a wide variety of fish since), and I definitely remember it being inactive. I also knew some boys when I was a freshman in college who would buy male bettas to watch them fight for entertainment. Yeah. Not cool.

Tiffany said...

Okay, so I know this was almost a week ago now, but I have to comment...(by the way, I am officially following you now, it's about time).

I almost laughed aloud when I read Chickie's question "And then we would eat it?"...which I don't do often when reading. I can totally picture her saying that, lol. Too cute!....If Joshua survives at least a couple more weeks, I'll have to get some fish care tips from you. I tried taking care of a couple of beta fish when I was in highs school, but they didn't even make it to four days :o(