Is that fish playing dead on me???

I’m currently (until tonight) pet-sitting 2 molly fishes for my friend.

Her daughter asked Santa for some fishes and she got a 2 gallon fish tank and a gift card to go buy a fish.

Their first fish was a Beta, but it did not last long. Then they went back to the store and got 2 mollies, a yellow one named Belle (even though I later found out it’s probably a boy) and an orange one named Aurora.

But a couple of weeks ago they were in their way to sunny and warm Florida and needed someone to care for the fishes while they were out.

So on a Tuesday night, exactly 2 weeks ago, they dropped the fishes off at my place, for the delight of my kids (just hope this 2-week-stay of the fishes won’t give my girls any crazy ideas of getting some fish of their own!)

When I asked if the fishes would need to get the water changed or anything, they said that probably not, that water should last 2 weeks, all I needed to do was to feed them a pinch of the fish flakes 2 times a day.

Cool! That sounded easy!

By Saturday the water of the tank was nasty. Just awfully nasty! Foggy and looking pretty unhealthy for the cute little fishes. So I call my friends in Florida and they say that cleaning the filter would probably help, but if not I should leave 20% of the water for the fishes and change the rest.

I tried the cleaning the filter strategy first and it served nothing. So I decided to change the water. But changing almost the whole tank was tough: grab 20% of the water and move it to a smaller containers, fish the fish with a ladle (as I don’t have fish-friendly tools, like nets), remove the plastic weed and clean it up, find a colander to throw the water while keeping the pebbles, put the clean pebbles and weed back, temperate tap water and add it to the tank, and finally drop the fishes with the 20% of dirty water back into the tank.

Looots of work for 2 little creatures that don’t even interact with us!

Then on Wednesday the water was getting all filthy again. Thursday morning I could barely see the fishes + water seemed to be foaming on top (not the regular bubbles created by the filter piece… much more)!

So, in spite of being late to drop off the girls in school and go to work I decide to change water again. I was harder to get the Belle this time, as he would run from the ladle much more efficiently then Aurora. But I got it and went through the whole filter-cleaning-water-changing-weed-and-pebble-washing process again…

I was not convinced that this was working, so I decided to go to the pet store in the evening to get new filters.

Once there I also looked around for other fish products and ended up buying also a water testing kit to check the levels of pH, nitrites, nitrates and hardness, and a water conditioner to make my tap water a better environment for the poor thingies.

At the cashiers I mentioned my problems to the guy and he said that foggy and foaming water could be caused by too much water change, and asked me who much of the water I was changing. I told him what I have been told by the fish owners, that I was keeping 20% and changing 80%. He said it should be the opposite!!!

Oh no… I was doing it all wrong then. When I got home, I changed the filter first, tested for the water to find out nitrites and nitrates were the only numbers that were good, and then used a couple of drops of the conditioner. Things seemed to be getting much better after that.

But then on Monday, the last full day of the fishes at my place, the water was starting to get foggy again, and I decide to do a last treatment before returning them the next day.

I cleaned the filter, tested the water (much better numbers now!), changed 20% of the water only and used the drops again.

But when I poured down the 20% of clean water into the tank, some of the old food that was lying at the bottom of the tank started floating and Belle, who was the hungrier of the 2, starts eating from it. It felt a bit gross, but there was nothing I could do to stop him.

2 hours later, when my daughter and I went back there to feed them ‘fresh’ food, Belle was lying at the bottom of the tank, all static, as I had never seen him before. I got worried that he might be dying, but then he moved a bit, going to another spot at the bottom of the tank. My daughter was glad and said

“Finally he moved. Because if he died, Clara would be sad.”

Another 2 hours had passed and I went to check on the fish again, and he was lying sideways on top of the weed, breathing sort of funny (not that I really know how a fish is supposed to breath, but on my worry mixed with PMS, which always bring insecurities, it seemed as a weird breathing). It was just about to die!

I was devastated!  I killed the fish by letting him eat bad food on the very last day of them in my home. Poor little guy, so cute, doomed to live on such a tiny space and be taken care of by amateurs who knows nothing of it, like me… Oh no! Sorry little fish for letting you die! And then I cried. I really did, just like a little kid. Cried for the fish, so small, so fragile, so cute, lying there on the weed not able to breath well and all because I poured water too quickly and made bad food come up for him to eat…

This morning I woke up with plans to leave work early and go buy another yellow fish so Clara wouldn’t be too sad. I was also trying to figure out how to tell it to my kids. But as I was climbing down the stairs, I looked at the fish tank and noticed he was not at the weed anymore. Had him fallen? Then I get close and it’s also not at the bottom! I look and cannot see any of the 2 (just cleaning the filter did not work again, filter do need to get actually changed each 4 days apparently)! Then I search at the back and there they are. Both of them happily swimming!

What???? Wasn’t he dead last night?

Yay! Miracle! The fish came back to live overnight!!! I was happy again!

About an hour later, I go back there with my other daughter (they were taking turns in feeding the fishes) and as soon as the little brat seems me he runs to hide quietly below the weed.

Are you kidding me???? Are you playing dead with me???

Why, why why??? What did I do to you???? I even bought fish products to care for you!

My daughter pours the flakes in the water and he does not move.

She starts telling him: “Eat fish! Eat!”

Me: “Com’on sweetie. Let it be. Maybe he’s not hungry right now and will eat later”

She: “Eat now, fish. Eat!”

So now that! The fish is running from me, after 2 weeks of me caring from him. And all the cry and the worry and lost sleep last night for what? For a stupid ‘hide-and-seek-playing’ fish?

I know some people will hate me for what I’ll say right now, but at the moment I realized the fish was playing (or maybe just afraid of) me, the thought that came to my mind was:

“That’s why fish deserves to be eaten!”

(check seconds 0:48 to 0:55!!! or just read the preview above! although not really the case here, since the stupid brad was playing me, proving he had feelings!)

But no. I don’t really think like that. I was really sad for it last night. I guess I grew found of them, in spite of the feeling not being reciprocal. And next time I have fish on my plate I may even think twice before my first bite (just twice and then I’ll eat it anyways, because it’s yummy!)

Later, when I got to the office I did some research and found out that mollies do sometimes lay down sideways to sleep.


Humpf! Darn ignorance and PMS!!!


2 thoughts on “Is that fish playing dead on me???

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