Dec 2, 2010

The Northrop Story

Last night I was terrified that Northrop was going to die.

He had been rather lethargic the last few days. He wasn't eating, and he didn't get excited when anyone came into the room. In my former years, way back before I 1) kept a blog and 2) was in University, I had a couple goldfish. I got them from a GEMS dinner when I was about 13. Lipstick, a white and gold one with a black mouth died within a few days. Gill, the gold and black spotted one stayed alive for years. He lived in the worst living conditions a fish could imagine. I think I cleaned his bowl once a month, fed him once every couple of weeks, and just neglected him. I was an irresponsible teenager. Ironically, the thing that killed Gill was a water change in the spring of 2006. I was 17 years old. I was laughing so hard, I was crying, and poking the darn thing to try and get it to live. The whole incident, though tragic, was highly entertaining.

So, this summer I decided I wanted to buy a guitar. Instead, Dan Kikkert took me to PetSmart, and I got Northrop (it took a couple hours to come by that name). He was the most energetic of all the fish. He would swim around in a circle with excitement when I got close to the container he was in, he didn't try to eat any of the other fish. He was sweet, and energetic, and happy. So, I bought him.

For about a month, Northrop lived in a vase with some purple beads that didn't stay on the bottom. He liked pushing them around and diving at them, and trying to get them to sink or float. He always greeted me at the glass when it was time to be fed. He was such a happy fish. Then, I moved him into a fishbowl which I had bought from Pet Smart. I had picked up and dried and then boiled and then redried some rocks from a beach, and then purchased some cheap vines. Northrop was tranfered into the bowl somewhere near the end of July. He had culture shock at first. He didn't move around much, he wouldn't eat, he didn't greet me. I think he just didn't know what to make of all the room there was in which to swim.

Northrop then came with me to Redeemer. He lived on the coffee table for a couple days until I cleaned his bowl and moved him upstairs to the shelf. He then has had a happy life, getting irritated at Natalie's orange hair, getting irritated at orange and pink highlighters, greeting me every morning when I feed him, and just being a generally happy fish. And I mean happy. Bettas are, apparently usually very boring and unattentive fish. They usually sleep a lot. Not Northrop. He was always an energetic fish.
(The fish below is not Northrop, but a fish that looks like Northrop)



Until, that is, a few days ago. Over the weekend I noticed that he wasn't eating as much as he usually does, and he was spending a lot of time wedged in between the weeds close to the surface. Tuesday, I noticed that he hadn't eaten anything, and was just laying around lethargically. For Northrop, this was strange. I looked up some information on Bettas last night and discovered that lethargy and lack of appetite in a Betta fish means one of three things:
1) The bowl needs to be cleaned because there are high levels of nitrate and ammonia which are apparently really bad for their respiratory systems,
2) The water is too cold; Betta's need warmer temperatures, in the cold, they move less in order to reserve energy.
3) Northrop is sick. Apparently, not eating is one of the sure signs that one has a sick Betta.

So, I ran down my checklist. The windows had been open in our room that weekend because it was a little warm in the house, and you know, Amanda and I give off a lot of body heat when we...study. So that was likely a contributing factor, but that didn't explain why he wasn't eating. Next, cleaning the bowl... it had been over a month since I had last done that. I mean, he is one fish in a 1.5 gallon bowl. He doesn't eat THAT much, and there were a substantial amount of rocks on the bottom of the bowl to keep the water from getting too poluted. I cleaned the bowl anyways.

It was almost instantaneous. I brought him downstairs and did my cleaning ritual. My girls cheered (mostly because they wanted to see Northrop live too). Suddenly, this fish, who had been a living floating device for the last few days came back to life. He was swimming around and exploring his clean bowl (probably because he could see in it again). He was diving down and around, and swimming through the reeds and rocks, and just having a grand ole time. So, I took him back upstairs and sat him back on the shelf. Within half an hour, he was getting lethargic again, and using the reeds near the surface for support. 

Oh, dear, I couldn't help but think. Another fish is going to die because I changed his water. 

So I looked up everything I could about Betta fish. Their eating habits, habitats, appropriate water temperatures, etc. I looked up diseases, cures, and everything in between. But there was poor Northrop, just doing... nothing.

The only thing I could do was leave him for the night and hope that he would be alive in the morning.

When I woke up this morning, I hobbled across the room and peered towards Northrop's bowl. I couldn't seem to figure out where he was. I didn't see him in the spot I left him in last night. He wasn't hiding in his usual spot in the reeds, and he wasn't swimming around. Instantly, I started looking around the bowl. I have heard of other fish who have jumped out of their bowls, so I checked thoroughly. No sign of Northrop. So, I started to make noise. Suddenly, a little purple thing wiggles its way out of the bottom of the fish bowl, where he had been hiding under rocks, and swam right up to the glass and looked at me. Then, he veered head first into the glass about 8 times, before he swam and hid behind the reeds. 

So, I did the next logical thing - I tried to feed him. I took about 5 pellets and dropped them at the top of the bowl. Within seconds, Northrop made a beeline for the pellets. I have never seen anything eat so quickly. 

I still don't know what was wrong with him. Maybe it was just that he needed a water change, and some heat from my lamp. But this morning his colour was back to normal, and he was happy and excited to be alive. Strange fish.

On a completely different note: The weather cannot decide whether or not it wants to snow. There is a flake every couple minutes. I hope it just snows. 

Word of the Day: Water

Quote of the Day: "I'm looking down at you, and all I can see is your face and your boobs, and I'm not sure which to look at! " Nathan Wensink

1 comment:

joelfaber said...

haha, what a quote. as if he's got a choice, how could he ignore something so worth looking at?





I'm talking about your face, obviously.

In other news, I'm glad Northrop is still alive.