Welcome back. I killed your fish.

5 Nov

The first time my coworker Gail left her betta fish in my care, I overfed it. Like, a lot. And he got really bloated and I was sure that he was going to die. At first I wanted to stop feeding him to make up for it but then I thought that he might die from starvation so I put him on a diet, feeding him very little on a strict schedule. It was more nerve wrecking than I expected. But I learned from the experience and so the next time she left her fish in my care I was a little more prepared. Until it started blowing bubbles. I mentioned it to another coworker and he remarked that fish can die from not getting enough oxygen. I stared at the fish as it lingered in the top corner making bubble after bubble until most of the top of the tank was filled with air bubbles, positive that he was dying from oxygen deprivation. I was devastated and just prayed that the little guy wasn’t in pain as I watched him die a slow death. I even made him a nice little backdrop for his tank to make the death as pleasant as possible for him. When he didn’t die, I googled it and discovered that the “bubble nests” he was making actually meant that he was “ready to mate” and in fact robustly healthy. Seriously, Fish?! This is all because you just want to get a little nookie? I was a little pissed at the horndog for causing so much trouble…Again.

Since then, Gail’s added to the tank and now it houses two snails and a crayfish in addition to the gluttonous horny fish. It’s a happy aquarium and everybody is quite lively…normally. Gail asked me to take care of her critters for one week while she went on vacation. I was hesitant but agreed, so on Friday, she moved the tank to my desk and left for vacation. And thus began the next chapter of my saga of watching-fish-that-cause-more-trouble-than-fish-should-ever-cause. On Monday morning I walked into work and found the crayfish dead. Well thats a great start. I texted Gail immediately to remove any accountability but I think she was in denial.

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I looked over at the tank and saw one snail sucking the insides out of the crayfish. Welp, if he wasn’t dead before, he is now. On Tuesday the fish started to make bubble nests again. I remembered not to fall for his little “play dead” trick but I definitely gave him the mom look that says “knock it off back there.” It doesn’t work on my kids and it didn’t work on the fish either, he continued his mating ritual. On Wednesday the tank began to get noticeably filthy with black mildew. On Thursday the snails stopped moving around and the fish stopped eating. The tank was getting filthier and I was starting to lose my nerve. On Friday the fish stopped moving and started floating to the top. He would lay on his side, floating along the top of the water sometimes with part of his body out of the water completely. Sure that he had gone “belly up” I would open the top of the tank to get the fish out when he would suddenly jerk awake and swim away. This happened three times. Each time I cursed at him louder and more descriptively than the last.

At this point, I was ready to throw the fish tank out the window but then I realized that my coworker’s vacation was over and she was due back in on Monday. Thank Gawd!  I wiped my hands clean and declared my shift done. “I did my job and kept the fish alive until Friday…and I am NOT responsible for what happens over the weekend before she gets back in, thank you very much!” I said these things to myself, but the truth is that I left the office Friday night prepared for the fish and snails to be dead Monday morning. And I felt awful about it. I considered getting Gail a card but what would I write in it? “Welcome back. I killed your fish.” No, better to just wait and see what happens.

Surprisingly, nobody died over the weekend and my coworker came back to a filthy tank with immobile, but alive, fish and snails. She cleaned the tank and everybody is starting to get back to their happy selves.

Unfortunately, her plant didn’t fare as well. I definitely killed that.

Never leave your kids with me, folks. Really, it’s for the best.

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