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Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Fish Lesson

Over the course of this lifetime my family have been blessed by the presence of fish. There have been ups and downs with keeping fish tanks. I'll never forget the time my brother, Jack, who had a tank of HUGE, gorgeous, Angel fish, came home to find something went wonky with the tank's heater and all the fish were fried. We were devastated. Several years went by after that before any of us could even consider keeping fish in our home. Just thinking about this still creates pain in my heart.

Then there was the time, not long ago, that some fungus took out all of our Alexander's beautiful gold fish, despite dosings of medicine and following the advice of fish "experts"...made all the worse that Alex had already left home and this happened with me as their caretaker. It was a sad day when we buried a lovely, multicolored fish...her name, Ridelle...the size of a dessert plate, in the non-watery ground.

After thoroughly cleaning and airing the once fungus-laden tank, I was determined to start again with 5 goldfish. Little beauties they all were. Persephone, the first one who died, had some kind of weird disease that caused her body to develop cancerous-looking growths. I was grateful all the rest of the fish didn't get it. Later on down the road, Aristophanes started to act weird, hiding in a cave dwelling within the tank. It's almost as if he died of fright or something. This left three fish, and I got sick to my stomach the day that Andromeda was having a hard time staying upright. I knew all too well what that meant.

Andromeda, orange and white, died about 3 weeks ago. She had "swim bladder disease" for MANY months. How did she live so long with such a dreadful disease? I hand-fed her. Twice a day I would take her out of the 55 gallon tank and hand-feed her. This took at least a 1/2 hour or more each time. I would use a net to help hold her upright, and when she fell sideways, I'd use my own hands to help her to remain stable. I talked to her the whole time, and sometimes I found my tears fell into her water as I did so. I told her how grateful I was to get to know her and love her. I thanked her for helping to teach me patience, which I so sorely needed. If folks think that fish have no personalities to share with humans, I would have to say they're very, very wrong.

When Andromeda died I buried her in a little cardboard jewelry box in the ground. I put a large stone...bigger than two fists...on her grave. This past week I saw that the stone was moved and her grave disturbed. Her little body was still stuck to some cotton I had laid her on. I reburied her. A few days ago the stone was pushed aside again and this time she was for a hungry, wild critter or perhaps a curious dog. No matter. No tears. I know her soul is swimming free in a clear stream. She is whole.

So who is left in our huge tank? Two googly-eyed, orange, goldfish named Eros and Aphrodite. I often just call them Frick and Frack. Such characters they are. I hope to enjoy their company for years on end. Something tells me that they, too, have much to teach me.


  1. What a wonderful story. Perfect, I loved it.

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Patti.

  3. Hi Jenny,
    I too, have had a sad experience with my animals. I lost my 4 month old Gotland ewe and also her mother this summer :-((
    I will not give up on sheep though because I luv them so much and am looking forward to spring lambs :-)

  4. Aaw, Jody. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know that must have been a very, very hard experience.

    May next spring's lambs be happy and healthy! Bravo for not giving up on sheep!!!

  5. Aw I'm sorry Jenny. You poured so much healing, love and compassion onto her, hoping she'd come around. She's in a better place now, swimming happily, energetically in a great pond in the sky.

    Love you,

  6. Andromeda is most definitely in a better place, as you said, Ravenstar. Thank you, sweetie.
    Love you, too,