Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Horizontal Goldfish

Tenderhearted Readers, this is a sad story of love and death among goldfish. Kleenex at the ready, here we go --

On November 24th, we had three goldfish (50 cents each) in a 10 gal. aquarium on the counter beteen the kitchen and dining room. We have had goldfish on and off for the past 25 years. After the first couple of years, I quit personalizing them with a name; they died to quickly. It's a freak goldfish that lives as long as 10 years. Frankly, 10 months is a good life expectancy.

On November 25th, I noted the fatal beginning of the goldfish traditional demise. It was lying on its side on the bottom of the tank (once down, never up again.) Unusually though, another goldfish seemed to be taking care of it. It would hover, gently nudging the prone goldfish with its mouth and body as if to say, "I'm here; it's gonna be okay."

This sorry state of affairs continued for five days; an exceptionally long period of time. It drives me wild when a goldfish dies as they always seem reluctant to go ... and I always stupidly think, 'This one's gonna make it!" The rare exception (in my experience, anyhow) is the goldfish that's fine Monday night; dead Tuesday morning. I really like that in a goldfish. None have ever lingered as long as this one did. I finally discovered it stone, cold, dead the morning of December 10th.

The "nurse" goldfish seemed none the worse which made me curious: had it been being friendly to a fallen companion or (sinisterly) cannibalizing it? So I looked it up. wikipedia.com had this to say about goldfish:

Goldfish rarely hurt each other deliberately, but food is such a driving force with them that in competition for some, accidents can happen. Goldfish are "gregarious" (their word) and can come to recognize their feeder as well as the time of day they are fed.

Remembering that wikipedia is not always accurate, take what follows with a very large grain of salt: Goldfish can be trained (using positive reinforcement, i.e. food) to do tricks such as doing the limbo, slalom, fetch (with what?) and SOCCER. C'mon, wikipedia -- pull the other one; it's got bells on it.

But I am adamant: when these last two die they will be the last two for quite some time. The trauma of this one's death is just too raw, too fresh. Besides I need to scour out the aquarium and replace all of the rocks and fernery.

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