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The Siamese Fighting Fish

August 12, 2008
My daughter went to a birthday party last year, and was given a betta fish as a party favor. We’ll save the discussion for another day about whether that’s an acceptable gift to give a kindergarten girl without first asking her parents. But this fish, Rainbow, has become our little miracle baby over the last few weeks.
Somewhere along the way, Rainbow (I call him Romo) has become my responsibility. I feed him (it) daily, and most weekends, I clean out his fish bowl. I’m not sure how I can be the primary caregiver, yet not be allowed to name him; but again, another blog for another day. So a few weeks ago, I started the bowl cleaning ritual. After moving him into a small clear cup, I cleaned the bowl, and all the little stones in the bottom. I have to wait fifteen minutes for the water to acclimate before I can move him back into his tank. Well, fifteen minutes turned into thirty, and thirty turned into sixty. Apparently Rainbow (Romo) grew tired of waiting to return home, and unknown to us, he made a break for it.

I returned three hours later, to find the little clear cup empty. Immediately, I checked the larger bowl to see if someone else had moved the little guy back to his full-size home. He wasn’t there either. There aren’t a lot of places he could have gone, as his usual range is about 9 square inches in any directions. We checked the kitchen counter, the kitchen floor, the living room floor. No sign of Rainbow anywhere. As a last resort, I start moving the dinner dishes from the sink, and found a very pale, very dry, very dead betta fish lodged half way down the drain.

We don’t know how long it had been since he jumped, or how long a fish can live out of water. But it was obvious that he was out of his element, and had been for quite some time. So i gently pulled his fragile corpse from the drain and began the solemn funeral march towards the bathroom. As I approached the toilet, I felt a slight movement in my hand. I stop and stared at this still dead fish, and found him completely motionless.

Common sense told me to carry on with the funeral, and wash my hands and continue my day. If he had moved, he was moving no longer. As I watched him, waiting, I finally saw him twitch again. Common Sense again insisted that it was probably nothing, but for some strange reason, I decided to give him a chance. I put the lifeless floating fish back into his newly cleaned fish bowl. And for a week, i continued to feed this lifeless fish. Some mornings, he’d be floating at the top of the water. Some morning, he’d be resting at the bottom. Some days, he’d just kind of be vertical in a position that normal fish don’t swim. But each time I’d tap the glass, I’d see just an ounce of life.

For over a week, the guy did little more than drift around his bowl in a dull gray coat. But gradually over time, he started to eat, started to swim and started to stay fin-up. This morning when I fed him, he eagerly came waiting at the water’s edge to pounce on his food pellet as if he was concerned it would get away.

My daughter and I are so glad that this Siamese Fighting fish continued to fight, but to me, that’s not the amazing part of this story. The compelling part of this story is that for some reason, I didn’t listen to common sense when it insisted that I flush the fish. I didn’t listen to common sense when it mocked me for feeding a dead fish for a week.

This morning as I was driving to work, I was thinking about this little fish. Thinking about the times I’ve become impatient waiting in my little cup of water. Times that I’ve grown tired of the confines that were set up for my own good. Times that I’ve made a break for it, willingly escaping the safety and provision of my fish bowl. I’m so glad that I survived to return home, but more I’m thankful for those people who didn’t listen to common sense, who refused to give up no matter what the evidence said. Thanks.

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3 comments

  1. great blog, my fish just survived an ordeal out of water, twice!
    great words of wisdom in making the parallel to life


  2. Glad to hear you’re happy in your fish bowl…


  3. You’re lucky that betta fish can live out of water so long and if you need any help with Romo, just go to my blog at http://www.bigbluebetta.blogspot.com it has lots of info on betta fish.



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