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Misadventures in fish-sitting

by Traci Schumacher on Wed, 11/28/2012 - 10:34am

A couple weeks ago, my daughter's teacher asked her class if anyone could take home the class fish and care for them during the Thanksgiving break. My daughter begged me to volunteer and, because I do not want fish of our own, I agreed, hoping this would be an easy way to appease her fish desires for a while.

So we had four scaly friends stay with us over the holiday – two little orange fish and two little neon tetras in a small square tank we placed on our kitchen table. Feed them in the morning. Feed them in the evening. How hard could it be?

Well, it was not hard at all actually. Everything was going great until Sunday, the day before we had to return the fish to school. Yes, it was Sunday when I noticed one little tetra was just hanging out at the surface of the water, not really moving a whole lot. Every so often he would wiggle or swish a bit.

I thought perhaps the more active orange fish had gobbled up all the food and he was just tired from lack of energy. So I dropped more food into the tank, but the Sad Tetra ate none of it. My husband suggested maybe the water was too cold, so we set up a table lamp near the fish tank for the night, hoping little Sad Tetra would revive in order to return happily to school the next morning. I said a prayer and went to bed.

Monday morning came around, and I headed to the kitchen to check on Sad Tetra. Much to my surprise, he was gone. Yes, gone. He was not floating at the surface. He was not hiding in the plastic plants. He was not down among the gravel. He was not behind the filter. He was not even on the kitchen table. He was simply gone.

I was in disbelief, so I asked my husband to look and he could not find Sad Tetra either. Now really, how does one lose a fish?! Maybe one of those active little orange fish swam into him, catapulting him clear out of the fish tank through one of the small holes in the lid and he landed on the floor, only to be swallowed up by one of our dogs. Yeah. Not likely.

My only two plausible guesses are that he got sucked up into the filter to a place I could not see. Or the other fish ate him. I don't know. Even after two days, my daughter's teacher has not found Sad Tetra either. And I'm thinking she will not be asking me to take home the fish for Christmas.

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