Wednesday, January 16, 2008

RIP-Old Town Otis

Almost a month ago, I rescued a betta from the pet store. I (thought that I'd) carefully planned the entire day out. I went to Target and found a GREAT bowl and glass rocks. Then off to Petsmart to look for the perfect fish.

I'll be honest, they all looked a little sickly, but I found a male betta with beautiful fins and a spunky attitude. The poor guy tending to them almost had a heart attack; it was a little early, and I guess he was dumping the ones that had died overnight. He looked very nervous that I was back there asking questions about which were male v/s female, and were all the fish labeled correctly as crowntails v/s standard bettas, etc. I was just curious, and I ALWAYS took pride when I worked at a pet store in KNOWING the animals and their "quirks".

To be clear-a betta is NOT a goldfish. They are much more complicated than you'd think. I wasn't prepared!

I picked out my betta, got some food, bought some water conditioner/stress-free and went to the counter to take him home! I was sooo happy, I sang all the way home; Otis sitting in the cup holder in between the seats. I drove extra careful, so that I didn't slosh water around or stress him out anymore than his poor little life had already been through.

I got home, washed the bowl and rocks, and sat it in front of a heater to warm the cold water faster. I added the water conditioner and waited until I could put Otis in the new home to stretch his fins. After about 1 hour, I figured the water was about the same temperature. I slowly dumped the dirty water from the cup Otis was in, until there was only enough for his little body, then I introduced him to his new home.

He swam feverishly around, checking everything from the rim of the water to the rocks on the bottom. I added a few food pellets, which he quickly gobbled up. I was in heaven!!! I couldn't wait for Wayne to get home from bowling to "scare" him! So when I heard his truck, I met him outside, giddy.

"Honey, please don't be angry. I just couldn't help it!!!"
Wayne looked scared....
"I was driving by the pet store, and I just couldn't help it."
*now, around Christmas, there are always people out there giving away free puppies or kittens, and this year had been no exception*
"Please don't be mad, but he's sooo cute, and I named him Otis. The cats love him, the dogs love him. I got him all set up; he's happy!"
Wayne looks a little angry, but I'm not backing down (didn't even crack a grin)-I was tooo proud of myself!

He hesitantly comes upstairs with me.....I can't giggle, not yet! I open the door and quickly close it, as if a puppy or kitten might run outside. He comes in and begins inspecting the house for animals. :) He never even notices the bowl on the bar! DUH-heheheeee I introduce him to Otis! He breathes a sigh of relief.....

Over the next few weeks, I am diligent about O's upkeep. Feed him every day at the same time; turn the light on when needed, off at night; change water as needed; scoop out uneaten food, etc. Well, 3 or 4 days ago, while I am in the midst of a chronic sinus infection, I notice that Otis isn't eating. Maybe his water is too cold-must get out to buy a thermometer! The next morning, I notice little white spots on him-CRAP, he's got ick/ich! I have to get out to get supplies!

I get online to look up the best/proper care for bettas with ick, and OH MY GOD! Someone please tell me, I am the MOST anal person when it comes to researching things. WHY WHY WHY???!!??? I had, only a week before, found some cool shells, cleaned them up REALLY good, and made a little "hiding" spot for Otis. He seemed to love it. Did you know that sea shells constantly release toxins (in small amounts) into the water? CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To make a long story short, and keep me from crying more than I have (don't laugh!), I found Otis, this morning, laying on the bottom of his bowl. The treatments didn't help. I killed my fish with ignorance! I did not prepare myself the way that I should have! His color had come back, he'd gotten spunkier, still not eating like normal, but I thought we were on the road to recovery. Bless his little heart, I am a horrible fish owner!

Please, DO YOUR RESEARCH-COMPLETELY, ahead of time! Have a first aid kit for any animals that you bring home, BEFORE you bring them home! In the 2 days that I'd discovered things and actually been able to do something, well, that could have been the critical time that would have saved my poor Otis.



Jim said...


My condolences Gigi. But, I must say, you did so much better than I did. I once owned one - for about 6 hours. I have an online friend now who is an expert on fish and corals. Contact her if you like!

Jennifer said...

I am sorry about your fish. At least it got to live a longer life than it would have in the pet store with the other dead fish.

Anonymous said...

How tragic, that's why i stick with cats.