You can call me the Fish Whisperer. Maybe.
Last weekend, one of my daughter’s betta fish took ill. Poor little dude was just laying on his side at the bottom of the aquarium. He was alive, but barely. And my daughter reacted as most teenage girls do — she freaked out. “MOOOOOMMM!! Something’s wrong with my fish!! OMGITHINKHE’SDEAD!! DOOOOOO SOMETHING!!!”
Houston, we have Fish Drama.
When my daughter bought these betta fish (a boy and a girl — she named them Mars & Venus), I was sure they’d be dead in a week. Here we are, over a year later, and they live in a new, spacious tank, with a fancy filter and a heater. And they live as part of the family, in the middle of my kitchen, on top of my white wine refrigerator (which, btw, makes this post tangentially related to wine).
After scouring the Internet (and giving myself a degree in fish medicine), I diagnosed Mars with swim bladder disease (basically, his internal flotation device isn’t working right), which is often caused by constipation. Yep, fish get constipated. It came as a surprise to me, too. I’ve now spent the last 4 days of my life treating poor little Mars. He’s been isolated in a hospital tank with aquarium salt (a fish laxative), while I’ve been cleaning the disgusting poo and uneaten (decomposing) food pellets out of the aquarium gravel, doing constant water changes and purging nitrites. I even cooked and fed Mars tiny little pieces of a green pea, which I’m told is a great way to clear up fish “tummy troubles”. And now we wait.
All of this started as a way for me to avoid an episode of teenage fish grief. But now, I’m on a mission to save Mars.
The whole process reminded me of WC Fields’ seriously true words:
I’ve upgraded Mars’ condition from critical (circling the drain) to guarded (only swimming near the drain). Keep your fins crossed.
I think I deserve a glass of wine.