Yesterday my beloved goldfish (black moor) Scrappy died. It was quite a sad moment for me. It may seem odd that someone might get upset about a fish dying, but Scrappy was different. From the time I picked him out from the hordes of fish at the pet store, I knew he was different. He was not the prettiest fish, and had some scales missing and such. He was always happy, however, and his favorite thing in the world was dinner time. When I fed the fish (Kayo was his roommate), Scrappy would swim to the top and grab a mouthful of flakes, then proceed to perform a series of splashes and swimming maneuvers in his joy. It always made me laugh that a creature like a goldfish could be so excited when it was time to eat, and show it, too.
A young Scrappy
Scrappy almost died, twice, during the over four years I had him. One hot summer day I was heading out to meet Jen so that we could drive to a Dave Matthews concert together. As I was leaving, I noticed Scrappy was floating on the bottom, looking forlorn (if that was possible for a fish). He had a large rock tumbling about in his mouth, and as big as his mouth was, even as a little fish, he still couldn't spit that rock out.
Scrappy and an earlier roommate, Virgil, who died years ago
So Pete and I tried a bunch of ways to get that rock out, to no avail. We ended up using a tiny pair of hemostats to pop that rock out, and only seconds after being plopped back into the water, Scrappy was back to sucking on the rocks again, lesson unlearned, apparently. He would go on to repeat this same scenario months later, and this time we knew what to do.
Scrappy swimming in the tank near Dollie's butt—a good way to show how big Scrappy got in his final months
This death-defying fish grew to an enormous size, as is evident in the picture above. I could barely fit Scrappy in the palm of my hand, and had to buy an extra large net for the tank because of his huge body. Still, he remained happy and content, never fighting with other fish, and always excited to see people at his tank, mainly because he thought he might get a dinner pretty soon afterward. When Slimy Hoover joined the tank, he sucked at his shell a few times and then moved on, content to wait for those floating flakes of food instead. (Slimy Hoover has since passed on.)
During the last several months, Scrappy became sick and started floating upside down, the victim of swim bladder issues. I tried several medications, cleaned the tank and water, and even fed the fish canned peas on the advice of a pet store employee to help with the problem (it didn't help). He still tried to eat, and even splashed every now and then, but he was never quite the same after that. I kept him as comfortable and happy as possible, but it was evident that he was slowly fading away.
And so I awoke from a really bad dream yesterday morning and was already in a rather delicate state of mind when I walked downstairs, only to discover Scrappy's lifeless body floating in the tank. Kayo was poking him with his nose, confused as to why his buddy was no longer moving around and excited about meal time. It was really heartbreaking to see him go like that. He was such a charismatic fish, and I have never had a fish live so long or get so big before.
Why all the fuss about a fish? Because that's who I am. I love animals and all the pets I have had over the years, from toads to fish to birds, and of course dogs and cats. And they have all given me great joy, made me laugh, made me cry, and have been a constant in my life. So see one of them die, even a "simple" goldfish, is still really sad to me. It's one more bit of light that is gone, no matter how small or insignificant. Scrappy made me smile, gave me stories to tell, and was always entertaining—and that's all that matters.
Needless to say, he will be sorely missed.