Sunday, 2 November 2008

Fish Killer

So I had this little betta fish, M. Poisson, for the longest time. He was half brain dead due to a little jumping accident, and anyone interested in cryogenics may have theorized that he lived twice as long as a normal fish because he died for twelve hours every night before thawing out and living during the day. I loved that little fish, despite his tendency to do nothing but bob along near the top of the water.

But eventually all good things come to an end, and he died. So I replaced him. The little guy promptly turned an ugly dull colour and passed on. So I took him back to the pet store and got a free replacement. They tested the water for me. The ammonia level was a *little* high, but considering the fish had died and stayed in there for a few hours afterward, that wasn't very surprising.

But then the same thing happened to the replacement. It looked like the fins were rotting, and within three days he died, too. It's not like I was sitting idly by. I changed that water, made sure it was absolutely clean, and the chemicals were all removed. It was a proper temperature. Yet it still died. I pretty much gave up then, and didn't get another one.

Now a little girl down the street has a new pet betta, Leon, and I'm pet sitting for them while her family is at DisneyWorld. They suspected the fish was sick before they gave it to me. The reasoning was that if he died, I'd be better able to handle it than the other little girl they were going to give it to, and also that I must be fairly pro at identifying sick betta symptoms. Maybe I'm not. At first I thought it was just a dumb fish, not a sick fish. It was anorexic, and seemed intent on burying itself alive.

But yesterday it started showing the same symptoms that my other fish showed during the two days prior to their deaths. Fins essentially rotting, turning a dull colour, covered in little white dots, doing nothing but bobbing along the water's surface. It's a little girl's fish, for pete's sake! I don't expect Leon to live. I hope she's not too heartbroken.

It turns out that when fish try to bury themselves, they're actually just trying to scratch because they're itchy with the parasite ich. Not eating is another symptom of ich, as are the other things I mentioned. So I've cleaned the whole fish bowl as well as it's ever been, changed the water (for the second time), and added a little salt. It's supposed to help, but like I said, I don't expect much. Too little too late. Poor thing.

What really bugs me is that I can't find any good info on what causes ich. Stress, supposedly, but M. Poisson and my sister's fish, Finneus, had PLENTY of stress and lived to tell about it. So I don't know why all these other fish can't handle a move from the pet store.

Perhaps evolution is playing a role and these dudes just aren't cut out to survive, like university students who can't handle red "x"s on their assignments, only purple circles.

Sigh. Maybe one day I'll figure it out.

And speaking of fish, did you know the Nemo was actually a sequential hermaphrodite? Protandrous hermaphrodite, actually. They start out neutral, then the head honcho turns into a female, and the second toughest turns into a male. If the female chief dies, then the male turns into the female, and one of the neutrals turns into the male. The things I learn in psych class.

Dory: You mean you don't like me?
Marlin: No, of course I like you. It's because I like you I don't want to be with you. It's a... complicated... emotion.


art said...

I did not know fish were so complicated. It is easier to just have a kid... The sex changing thing sounds weird. It sounds a little tougher for humans to change gender than fish.

Kirk said...

My brother had a beta fish that lived for many months, I've forgotten exactly how many. But longer than average. And then I almost think he showed similar symptoms to yours just he died. Oh well, maybe somebody will figure out how to keep these cute little guys from getting the itch.

Bri said...

Where did the sex change for fish thing come in? Hah oh Dad.

Try not to get too worked up about this! You're doing the best you can.

PS. It was spelled Phineas although maybe Finneus would have been a better way to spell it. He was a good little fish.

Anonymous said...

"A little jumping accident"??? Was he waterskiing?
RIP Leon.
Love you, my little denizen of the deep annihilater! (annihilator?)