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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Here's the poop on fish

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A few months ago, my wife switched jobs and during her switch I was asked if I wanted a refugee -- a betta fish. With the only other option being a flush while still alive, I agreed. It is a fish, how much trouble could it be?

The next time I ask myself that, I really need to think things through. First, in all my wisdom I never realized that I couldn't keep it at the house. The moment we brought the little thing home my cats started licking their chops and I swear one of them was reading a cookbook.

To avoid a cartoonish situation, I decided to take the little thing to work and keep it on my desk. If nothing else he would keep me company on those long nights when I can never seem to leave the office. So I loaded up his little bowl and we went on the long trek to the office where he has resided since.

When I said I would take the fish in, I didn't realize I would have to change his water so much. I thought I would change it a couple times a year and he would be set. After all, he is a tiny fish. Let me say now that I apparently know nothing about fish.

Every two weeks I found myself in the break room cleaning that stupid bowl, cursing the dang fish because he was such a dirty pile of trouble. I have better things to be doing than cleaning a fish bowl.

Somewhere along the way though I got to like the little guy. If I tapped on his bowl he would swim to my finger like I was calling him. And his bowl has a little light so whenever I turned it on he would awaken, looking for food.

Now this is where the real problems started. I would feed the little guy three of his tiny fish pellets in the morning and three more at night before I left the office, just like the instructions on the food said. But you haven't felt pressure until you see a fish's beady little eyes staring at you wanting food. Let me tell you, this fish has some pretty convincing eyes.

So every now and then I would look over and be caught by "the stare" and since I am weak, I would give him an extra pellet or two. Looking back, this was not the right thing to do.

A couple of days ago I noticed my little fish was not wanting to eat much and was white on his stomach. Being about three years old, I figured he was just on his last fins and headed to the big fish bowl in the sky. But since I'm weak, as I've mentioned above, I couldn't just sit back and watch him die.

My big idea was to clean his bowl, so if there was something in it making him sick he would have a better chance to live. This is just further proof that I know nothing about fish.

Clean bowl and all, the poor little thing just laid there with his white belly, swimming to the top every few minutes to blow bubbles. Now I was a little curious what was wrong so I decided to ask something that would know -- the Internet.

After just a couple clicks I found a thread with fish that had the same symptoms as my little guy. The verdict -- my fish is constipated. Yes, I apparently overfed my fish and now he can't poop. I only wish I was making this up.

It seems that when he is swimming to the top of the bowl to blow bubbles, he is actually burping. So my constipated fish lays on the bottom of his clean bowl until he needs to burp, swims to the top and then drops back to the bottom like an anchor.

Since I seemed to be partially to blame for his predicament, I looked for a cure. My wife asked if squeezing him would do the trick but I didn't think you could squeeze the poop out of a fish. She obviously knows nothing about fish either.

No, the remedy is to boil a pea. If it isn't bad enough that I'm supposed to cook up supper for a fish, once the pea is boiled the skin has to be removed and the pea cut into quarters. I struggle cutting steak, so there is no way I could cut a tiny pea into quarters. My fish won't eat his food anyway, so he sure isn't going to eat a pea. I won't even eat peas and now I wish I had that excuse as a child. "Yuck mom, peas are fish laxatives."

And who came up with the idea of giving a fish a pea to make it poop? That is screwed up on a whole different level. It amazes me what some people can come up with, like another remedy I found to help my poor little fish -- giving him an epsom salt bath.

How a bath is supposed to help a fish poop? I'll never know, because no way am I giving the thing a bath. He lives in water for goodness sake and is a fish, not a child. Isn't epsom salt used for foot baths anyway? He's going to stink, he's a fish.

So I sit here looking at my little guy, wondering if he will ever poop and live out the remainder of his life pain free, or will I have to send him to his big bowl in the sky? I can tell you that I'm actually thinking about squeezing him. But I know in the end I'll end up getting some stupid peas. How much trouble can it be?

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David Jenkins
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