It was clear to me that death was imminent: listless, poor appetite, and nearly unresponsive. So, I did what all neurotic Betta fish owners do in this situation: panic + Google.
Multiple sites and gahdIhatetoadmitit message boards made me feel like a complete idiot for not realizing he was FREEZING TO DEATH. I hauled ass to the kitchen to microwave a cup of water. Once the warm water was added to his tiny bowl (with the proper solution to make tap water okay of course), and he perked up right away – hooray!
Solution found. I’m awesome. Yay me.
The next day he was laid out on the floor of his bowl again. I frowned.
He’s depressed. I mean I would totally be depressed in a space that small. It’s horrible. He needs a bigger house.
We went straight to our local Pet Supermarket to get him one. There are two sizes: the cramped plastic bowl he was in, or a 10 gallon aquarium. For one fish – Bettas are such fantastic assholes they have to live alone.
No matter. I was committed to it. Everyone in our home deserves a chance at true happiness. The 10 gallon aquarium was purchased.
My dude came over to help put it all together and set up the filtration system (shhh, I know) because he’s awesome, and also because he knows I only look at the pictures in directions. I rely mostly on my intuition, which is great with humans, but shitty with equipment. Therefore, he wisely prefers to put things together straight from the box rather than after I’ve mangled it and thrown away important parts that appeared unnecessary. What a great guy.
Anyway, we got Hector all squared away in his new penthouse and he perked up right away – hooray!
The next day he was laid out on the bottom of the tank again.
Well of course he was. There were no plants in the tank yet, I hadn’t gotten nearly enough gravel, and we still needed to get the plastic treasure chest and mermaid to make it homey. Off I went to Pet Supermarket, again.
They know me there. My rabbit won’t eat the pellets in his food – do you have any blends that don’t have pellets?…He also refuses to eat the Timothy hay – can you recommend another type?…My cats won’t stop gaining weight – do you have feline South Beach products?…Do you know anyone who would like to adopt our two turtles?
I studied the color choices of gravel, and since Hector’s a tropical fish, I opted for the blue and green combo. I was sure that would lift his spirits and make him feel just like he’s in the Caribbean, even though Bettas traditionally live in rice paddies in Asia. It’s me who wants to be in the Caribbean. Regardless, I just want him to be happy and tell all his (none) friends he loves living at my house because that will make me the fish champion.
I got all the plants perfectly situated in his aquarium, the lights were just so, the gravel was lovely, and the strand of pearls in the treasure chest added a touch of luxury. Hector’s so particular I know he likes pearls. And mojitos. But only if the lime juice is fresh. I decided against the mermaid because her tail was mauve and I thought Hector would find it tacky.
I poured him back into his newly upgraded sea palace and he perked up – hooray! I mean thank gahd, because here’s what I’m NOT trying to do: flush this fucker because he died on my watch mkay?
Peace prevailed for 24 hours and then he was back on the floor again. This time dramatically burrowed into his island getaway gravel, which seemed kind of poetic given the absurdity of this never-ending quest to make my $4 fish happy. Is this what Betta suicide watch looks like?
No no no. Of course not. HE’S FREEZING TO DEATH IN HIS NEW PENTHOUSE. No microwaved cup of water is going to keep 10 gallons of water warm! He needs a heater. One that will keep the water a balmy, and digitally monitored, 78 degrees.
Yes I did. Back to Pet Supermarket. Heater installed.
Guess where he is right now.
On the fucking floor of his Beverly Hills heated Betta fish mansion that looks like it’s been art directed and lit by a goddamn Hollywood film crew.
Guess where I am.
On my bed realizing Hector is absolutely content to hang out on the bottom of whatever tank, bowl, or cup he’s in.
Fish are assholes.
- A Meditation on Fred the Betta Fish (jugraphia.wordpress.com)