Requiem for a Beta Fish

24 Nov

We are gathered here today to remember the life of Surfer, the beta fish.

Surfer was born who knows where and when, and adopted into our family when, on my son’s 9th birthday, our family made a pilgrimage to PetSmart. Although Surfer was not his first choice, and came after the suggestions of a German Shepherd puppy, snake, hamster, guinea pig, minature horse, pet kangaroo, and elephant fell to a parental veto, he was quite delighted with his new fish.

This joy lasted for approximately 2 weeks, at which point the reponsibility for the feeding of Surfer was assumed by my husband, and I took on the role of cleaning the poopy bowl.

We did both with joy, assuming Surfer’s time on earth would be short and glorious, as is the way of pet fish.

Alas, the little bastard lived TWO AND A HALF YEARS.

Despite the routine cleaning of his bowl, Surfer never went gently into that good net when it was time for his fish toilet to be changed. He would valiantly escape the net, hiding in his faux rock, taunting me, and requiring me to stick my hand into the fish poo water and remove his fortress so he could be transferred to safety while I cleaned his bowl.

Once, I got distracted and tossed him back in to the still-chlorinated tap water, an act I would swear in court was an accident. I frantically swirled in the de-chlorinator and hoped for the best, while expecting the float. Alas, he lived to swim and poo another day.

Until sadly, one evening last weekend, right as some *ahem* cuddling was about to start, I noticed his bowl out of the corner of my eye, and completely dashed the romantic tone of the evening by saying “Uh, is Surfer dead?”

Indeed, he was.

The children rejected the idea of a “burial at sea,” saying a proper service would have to be held in the backyard. But, it was late at night, so Surfer was stuffed, still dead in his bowl, under the sink until suitable preparations could be made.

And then, uh, we’ve been busy.

Until today, when I realized there was a weird smell in the kitchen and OH MY GOSH, WE HAVE TO BURY THIS ROTTEN FISH RIGHT NOW!!!!!

The children were dispatched to find a small box and dig a big hole, and Surfer was transferred to his eternal resting place. I said a few words, my daughter offered a brief prayer, my son filled the hole with dirt and the rocks from Surfer’s bowl.

One last time, I poured the fish poo water out and scrubbed the bowl clean.

So, farewell, my finny friend. I will not particularly miss our Saturday morning bowl-cleaning sessions. But as non-edible fish go, you were nice enough.

May you swim on in heaven where, as my daughter says, “I am sure they have automatic filtration.”


5 Responses to “Requiem for a Beta Fish”

  1. Emily November 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    In an act of fishy suicide, my beta fish jumped out of its tank and landed under my bed. A then seven-year-old Emily found him.

    That nearly ended my long run of finned pets. (We got one more fish, Spam, who survived a move from Boston to San Antonio and lived to the ripe old age of two and a half, but he was my brother’s responsibility.)

    • lettergirl November 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

      Oh dear. We had a black & red shark (they’re not really sharks, they’re just called that) who committed fish suicide in a similar manner. Alas, he was not found by a 7-year-old but by our cats. My condolences.

  2. Karen November 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    I am sorry for your loss. And I’m glad you didn’t have to bury an elephant in the backyard.

    • lettergirl November 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

      I probably couldn’t have left an elephant under the sink for 3 days either….

  3. Beth December 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    I had the coolest beta fish given to me, as a gift from one of my studets. On the very first day I had him, I accidentally knocked his bowl off the counter. He flopped around on the floor for a bit, but didn’t die. Then, when it was time to take him home, and I was driving him home in the car, I had to slam on the brakes, and out he flew. He flopped around on the floor of the car until I could pull over and rescue him, but he didn’t die. So, I named him “Richard” after the first winner of “Survivor.” There were several more near-death experiences, until he finally went belly up at the ripe old age of 3 years old. Cool fish.

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