Naming and caring for your goldfish: a Shakespearean tragedy

One time, we named our little goldfish after the roommates: Cheryl, Liz, Emily, and Amanda.

They all died.

Lesson learned: Don’t name your fish after yourselves.

There is an interesting phenomenon, not scientifically proven, that goldfish are actually mood-fish. If you name them after people, they take on human characteristics.

I know because of Li’l Swimmy.

In my early days, my parents had a lovely fish aquarium with lots of cool fish. Then the neighbor kids came over to play. They put popcorn in the tank. The fish ate it. The fish died. RIP Fishies.

We got more, but then we had to move. We gave our fish away and instead acquired salamanders, snakes, frogs, etc. Another story, another time.

The point here is, I never learned how to take care of goldfish and did not value their lives. My roommate got a goldfish a few years ago and named it YipYip because it liked to sit at the top and make a little “pop pop” (yip yip) sound…all. night. long. It died. #inmemoriamyipyip

So in February, when Cheryl and I were throwing Julia a bridal shower, we tried to think of some random crazy gift to give her, and of course we thought of goldfish (naturally). I went to PetSmart and picked up two fish. I headed to the check out counter. Then I thought I ought to buy them food, just in case they lived past the bridal shower. We put them in a nice Mason jar and gave them to Julia. Weirdest bridal shower gift ever.

FishLiz and FishCheryl on their first day in our home.

So…they lived. We named them Liz and Cheryl so that Julia could take us with her. They were upgraded from a Mason jar to a flower vase and lived quite happily. HumanJulia bought them blue rocks to put in the bottom of the vase. HumanLiz cleaned the vase regularly.

But when Jujubee got married, she left on a jet plane and we didn’t know when she’d be back again, so Cheryl and Liz stayed (FishLiz and FishCheryl, that is).

And then I had a really hard week at work and school. FishLiz started to get really sick, too. The more frustrated I was, the more she looked like she was dying. She started floating up to the top of the vase and laying on her side. I would yell at her and she’d perk up and swim down to the bottom. But she only used one fin, so she’d float back up to the top. It was a rough couple of days for me, and I got tired of saying “Liz is floating at the top! Liz is dying! Liz is sick! What’s wrong with Liz????” So we renamed Liz “Li’l Swimmy”. And Li’l Swimmy tried so hard to stay alive. I talked to her far more than a human should talk to a goldfish. I made sure she didn’t stay too long at the top and I’d coach her into swimming deeper in the water. Li’l Swimmy was not doing well, though.

I was so worried about my 13 cent goldfish, that I looked up her symptoms online. And lo and behold, Li’l Swimmy had swimbladder disease. It’s a real thing, friends, a real thing! And it’s life-threatening because the fish can die! (study up on swimbladder disease here).

Well, we cleaned out the tank and hoped for the best. Liz’s week started to look better and Li’l Swimmy started swimming around normally again. Within weeks, we were back to calling her Liz. The fish kept living. So we upgraded and got a plastic plant and then a REAL fish bowl.

Well, we have two new roommates now. For weeks on end, they murmured that they didn’t have fish-selves.  (Isn’t that self-fish?) So two weeks ago, I finally went to PetCo and bought two new fish, clearly identifiable so we would know who is who (yes, you can tell goldfish apart). I bought a pH balance solution for the bowl and I bought a little net to make cleaning easier (rather than dumping them carefully into a pitcher and yelling, “Please don’t jump and commit suicide!”) Emily was zippy and went crazy running into the sides of the tank when I put her in. Amanda was more reserved and was content swimming around. Perfect. It seemed all were friends.

And then for no reason, FishAmanda died last week. When I cleaned out the tank, I knocked Emily with the net on accident and her little mouth got a little red mark. I was afraid she was next.

Caution: content may not be suitable
 for children under 10

When I heard a scream on Sunday morning, I knew something was wrong with the fish. I came out and FishLiz and FishCheryl were dead, side by side. Only FishEmily, with the wounded mouth, remained. We don’t know why FishEmily had it out for all the other fish, but she did. We played “God be with you till we meet again” as we placed the fish in the toilet grave. A few short days later, FishEmily died of loneliness.

Now I just look at the empty tank and cry. It’s stilled waters and lonely aura remind me of the days of yester(well, day) when once the fish swam happily in the lukewarm waters of my soul. (it sounds poetic, doesn’t it?) I don’t know if I’m quite ready for new fishies yet.

Moral of the Story: (because shouldn’t every story have a moral?)

  • Don’t mix PetSmart fish with PetCo fish.
  • If you are having a rough week, just bottle it up inside. Don’t let your Fish-self know.
    • Also, don’t be Self-fish. Just a good thought in general.
  • Just keep swimming. What do we do, we swim!
(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)

3 Comment

  1. Yesterday I chatted with a friend who considers his sister insanely narcissistic because she names her children only with variations of her own name. Take that as you will. 🙂

  2. Fish are the worst! Always dying!

  3. LOL Liz that was the BEST. STORY. EVER…..about goldfish anyway. I can't tell you how many fish my brothers and I buried in the toilet waters. You will overcome though, and be ready for more fish. Maybe a beta this time? The little's preschool class had a beta and she was very hearty 🙂 Even survived ALL YEAR of preschool children taking her home every weekend!

Leave a Reply