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.
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!