Something’s Fishy

A couple months ago on this blog, I admitted that I was the textbook *cat lady*, minus her cats.  Sadly, this lack of furry companionship has encompassed all the usual pet suspects, save one. May I introduce you to my family’s one-and-only pet, a Betta fish.

Though neither cuddly nor furry, our Blue Crush (a.k.a. Crush) swam his way into our hearts and graced our family for about a year. With his peacock-like halfmoon tail, he offered a splash of shimmering color in our otherwise monochromatic kitchen. At one point, my son campaigned to change his name to Tag because Crush would follow his finger as he trailed it all around the bowl. We called it Crush’s exercise.

When perusing our fish options, we selected the Betta family because they didn’t require aeration in the tank, like most other aquatic species. Easy peasy, right?

Not so much.

For those authors (a.k.a. fictionistas) who choose to write a pet Betta into their novel, please don’t just make him pretty then forget about him.  Crush taught us that a fish of beauty can be more high maintenance than one might realize:

  • Equipment ~ bowl, pebbles, water plants, a net to catch him when we needed to clean the bowl, thermometer and a place for the fish to hide, because privacy). Our kids also insisted on adding a reminder to my husband to keep his fish hook far away from this bowl.

  • Food ~ Don’t feed the Betta fish too much, because he won’t stop eating when he’s full, so his stomach can explode. (I’m not kidding). This also meant that we needed a pet sitter any time our family traveled for more than a few days.
  • Water temperature ~ Bettas are indigenous to tropical climates so when winter arrived and our normally spunky Crush became sluggish, we had to buy a heating pad for the bowl. Who knew?
  • Water quality ~ Between bowl cleanings we had to monitor the water for toxins such as nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia.
  • King of the Hill ~ If more than one Betta share a bowl, they’ll fight each other to the death. Can you say Hunger Games?
  • First Aid ~ Betta fish are prone to fungal and bacterial infection, but only offer a few symptoms: their fin color may fade, their energy level may diminish, and/or their fins may shorten or shred. By the end of our first year, I’d googled all sorts of triage for determining what was wrong and had amassed a buffet of fish meds. I’m ready to sit for my fish-nursing certification exams.

The above notwithstanding, our family cherished the time Crush spent with us. He brightened our world, and wow, was he good lookin’!


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