[This originally appeared in The Journal, a print publication in Seneca, S.C.]
The week after Christmas was a little bit traumatic in the Herrington household.
I came home from my holiday visits with my family — broken up, of course, by a quick return to The Journal since the news doesn’t take vacation — only to realize I was missing a fish.
Jay-Z, my beta fish, was nowhere to be found.
Before I left, I was careful to treat the water and leave the school a week-long food supply, despite the fact I was only going to be gone for three days.
After a frantic search of the one-gallon aquarium, I quickly accused my cat of poaching poor Jay-Z from the trap door intended for feeding. Betas are air-breathers and Jay was known to hang out at the top, susceptible to the curious grasp of his slightly overweight feline brother.
Fear quickly settled in. Claws is about as domesticated as it gets. He is more scared of stink bugs than I am and there is no way he would have tolerated a flopping fish. I just knew the carcass was sitting somewhere in my apartment, most likely in a shoe. Claws has a thing for leaving toys in my shoes — this wouldn’t be a far stretch.
A survey of the floor and available footwear yielded no results, so I returned to my tank search and eventually located a dead Jay-Z hiding in my banana plant.
Poor Ivy, Sir and Rumi had been swimming around their dead father figure for who knows how long.
The cat still wasn’t in the clear, but I set up an immediate funeral and flushed the body before cleaning the tank.
Cause of death is unknown, but I suspect it is related to a broken heart. Beyoncé, my first desk fish, passed away shortly before Christmas. Her cause of death may have been the result of her former roommate, Destiny. They didn’t’ get along too well.
The jury is still out, but the fish were separated at the time of death.
The third casualty occurred shortly after I cleaned the tank on New Year’s Day.
Petsmart was closed and I was out of “stress coat” that I normally apply during water changes. I could tell it was taking a toll on my blue tetra, Ivy, so I rushed to the office to grab the beta fix from Beyoncé’s fight with Destiny. It has a bit of stress coat in it and I hoped it would do the trick.
Ivy was looking pretty wimpy prior to the water change, likely due to shock of living with her dead father for a day or two. The chemical seemed to perk her up and I proceeded with the cleaning.
She died shortly after being transferred back into the tank and was promptly laid to rest with her father.
For those of you keeping up and likely making fun of my naming conventions, that’s three fish in roughly one week that bit the dust. Just when I had gotten comfortable with being a fish mom and no longer needed a daily reminder to feed them, they all proved me wrong.
This column is dedicated to the three fish I named and the one I didn’t. May the rest in peace.
No name: Unknown-2 days after I got it
Beyoncé: Unknown – Christmastime
Jay-Z: Unknown – also unknown
Ivy: Unknown – Jan. 1, 2018