Saturday, May 22, 2010

Le Fish's Ultimate Disappearing Trick

We didn't want to spoil the fun and joy of announcing Jerry's arrival and we didn't actually know how to break this to you gently (we couldn't very well tell you Le Fish was out on the roof happily playing with a ball when...*) so you can imagine how very grateful we are to Omi for giving us this title (which we took from her comment to Adopting Jerry)and this opportunity to tell you that...

...Le Fish, the most beautiful betta splendins we've ever had disappeared for the last time at around 1 o'clock a.m. on the very morning of Jerry's arrival. While Jerry was travelling toward Ménilmontant in the night train, Le Fish, the Trickster we should have called him, was vanishing for good. Ironic, no? This is the last photo taken of him. We think it's rather appropriate in a ghostly fashion.

Le Fish's disappearance is actually a rather long story. It began about a month and a half ago when Le Fish suddenly stopped eating. For about fifteen days he'd eat one grain every few days or so. Nothing at all like the 4 x 2 he used to eat back in his early days with us. Then, finally he stopped eating entirely. This disturbed us although we observed that besides not eating he looked totally normal, swam high and low in his tank, hung out in his rock tower or in the hole in the fake grecian vase, shimmied up the bamboo pole from time to time... He even continued fighting with Stella's finger when she put it up close to him. He seemed fine. He just wouldn't eat. Mom kept promising she'd go to the fish store and find out what they thought might be the problem, but Mom's promises sometimes take a while to become reality.

Meanwhile, we had all sorts of hypotheses : Le Fish was getting older so he didn't need to eat as much, like older human beings; he had lock jaw; he snubbed the grains because we, well, perhaps I -Henry that is - should say "they" meaning everyone but me, of course, had somehow befouled them with their grimy human hands; Le Fish was sick and tired of always eating the same old grains every morning, every evening, same old, same old, the terrible grind of routine...; we imagined perhaps he was feeling lonely, if not for a male sparring partner (which he surely would have made mince meat of in no time) then perhaps for a cute little female betta and a string of sweet little baby bettas...

Mom finally went to see the fish doctor. His first question was "Does he have white stuff on him?" Mom said "No. Why?" Doc : "That would be a parasitic growth caused by stress, brusk change of temperature, being chased by a bamboo stick, being hit by a falling grecain vase..." Mom went home to make sure he had no white stuff on him. He didn't. He was his usual healthy blood red color, his long fins flowed freely, not a spot of white anywhere. Mom went back and reported this to the doctor. So the doc admitted he didn't know what might be bothering Le Fish. He said they could go for weeks without eating, that when Le Fish merely approached the grains he was probably eating tiny little bits. The doc said we could always try live food...

As Doc was serving other fish buyers, Mom sat by the female betta tank and watched them flit this way and that happily. Her decision came during that 10 minute wait : we would buy Le Fish some female companionship. And also the live bait the doctor thought might interest him more.

When I came home from school that day Mom announced we were going to the fish shop. I had invited a bunch of my friends over for a snack after school so we all went to the shop together...

...Vincent and Cledo were there...

...Valentin too, as well as Quentin, Louis (of Easy Cut Coconut fame) and Nil the river... It was kind of a neighborhood affair. We were really careful too. See how we let the new fish get acclimatized by leaving them in their bag so they'd get used to the temperature of the water before freeing them into the tank? We were becoming fish experts!

We loved the three new females and had found very neat names for them :

This small white one with the big black eyes we called Hepburn...'s Calamity called thus because she seemed to have had a hard life already, she was slightly bent in the middle and she seemed quite expert at finding the neatest hiding places...

...this little lady here...

...we called La Foudre - meaning Lightening - because she was so fast and because we think Le Fish fell in love with her at first sight which is called a "coup de foudre" in French. In any case, from the moment she was introduced into the tank, he was always after her.

What a beautiful fish, huh?

That guy up there we called Ajax, he's a window cleaner fish. I was so pleased to have him! The fish doctor said they could live for ten years and grow up to thirty centimeters. They have a huge old fella at the store which is really impressive. We were worried our tank would not be big enough. Cledo's Mom Sylvie said "Oh, in ten years Henry will have a big apartement of his own with a big tank..." The entire neighborhood was dreaming about our present and future aquariums...

Which is another reason why it was such a shame when the very next morning - the day Papy came - we found Ajax dead in a corner! He had not survived 10 hours in our tank! Not only were we just plain sad but now the whole neighborhood was going to have to be told that we're fish assassins rather than fish experts!

Mom figured we'd been badly advised so she went back to the fish doctor and got two new female bettas for the price of Ajax

We let them acclimatize...

...we called them :

the Indigo Tigress and...

...Madame Staline.

For a while, a very short while, something like 36 hours...they all lived together in a bright fish tank! Le Fish had never seemed happier in his life! He swooped around after these females trying to... to... well, kill them I suppose. AFTER Mom had bought the fish, the doc told her Le Fish would chose one female he liked, then try to kill the others. Then he'd make the one he liked pregnant, then, when she had laid the eggs he'd kill her then kill the babies... A betta holocost, basically...a kind of depressing scenario...

Anyway, the Dreaded White Parasite got them first. The Indigo Tigress was found deep down in the rock tower covered by a thick, white film. Madame Staline sprouted the stuff the next day and vanished in just a few hours. Calmaity went next, well hidden at the bottom of the grecian vase then finally, Le Fish...

When we saw him covered with the floating white spider-webby stuff on his left fin, we went into action. Mom found out from Doc that putting a tiny bit of salt in the water could burn the stuff off him so we put him in his original bowl with one grain of rock salt and waited. No improvement. Stella sat beside him, lifting him up to the surface every now and then with the sieve so he could get some air, she tried to scrape the stuff off him with cue-tips, it was agonizing... I became strangely detached and kept asking when the cat was arriving. By midnight on the 20th, Mom could stand it no and went to bed. At 7:15, when Jerry arrived, Le Fish was no longer.

Today, only Hepburn and La Foudre are still with us...

...but will they survive Jerry???

*This was the beginning of a joke that Opi once told Omi when Mom was about five. Mom was listening and she didn't get it right away, then, when she finally did get it, it imprinted on her brain and became the only joke she could ever remember...To this day!


  1. I've never heard of treating Ich with salt.

    And I learned about the horrors of a beta holocaust now.

    We currently have two gold fish in the tank right now. Rainbow and blackie- named by Miss Atlee- are apparently content with just themselves. Two weeks after we brought them home, we went and got Rim and Sim. The next day Rim and Sim were discovered dead in the tank. One of them- I'm not sure which since I hadn't quite sorted out who was who- was chomped in half!

    Apparently there was plenty of murder in the seas before pirates showed up on the scene.

    I hope Jerry has settled into his new home!

  2. What a dramatic story!

    As Susan says, the ocean is a rough place, even without pirates!

    Good bye, sweet Le Fish (or, Flame, as he'll always be to me). Welcome Hepburn and La Foudre.

  3. Au revoir, Le Fish.

    Our neighbor Wendy has a clever fish-naming scheme in which there is only one beta: "Charlie," short for "Charlie Tuna," I believe.

    Charlie remains a constant. He has, however, had an interesting variety of shapes and colors over the years.

  4. Farewell le Fish, you were the gorgeous one!
    But, oh, what tense and sad fish stories you tell, Henry! And I'll say it again, tell us more about the adventures of "Jerry, Hepburn, and Le Foudre"...(I think these names roll off the tongue rather nicely.) It would be a shame if one of the lovely lady betta splendins succumbed to the dreaded spider web fungus. So, please take good care of all three of them and best wishes for the trio’s long and happy cohabitation!

  5. Thanks for your condolences and your stories about other fish massacres, the named or unnamed casualties of parental folly. It's always nice to know you are not the ONLY fish killer on the block!