Small Talk


October 28th, 2013

I had a sick Betta. I looked up the problem and determined it was fatal. The fish had taken on a pine cone appearance in which the scales were popping out from the body, making it look like a pine cone when viewed from above.

Plus, he was listless for weeks, not eating, and looking pathetic. When he came to me he had a stomach problem. It looked like a parasite in his gut. The stomach was discolored, warped, and distending. I failed efforts to treat him.

I felt a mercy killing was the most humane thing. I know how to gut a fish, and I know people (not me) do it to live fish (pity the fish!), but I didn't want to do that to this one.

I decided to ice him to death. Again, trying to do the nicest thing for him, I chose to pour him in a small tofu container and put him in the freezer. Fishermen catch their fish and put them on ice to die, which I believe takes the better part of an hour, the whole while the fish is suffocating.

My sad pet would just get colder and colder like the Little Matchstick Girl. Hopefully he would die with visions of his fish grandmother greeting him in a huge 10 gallon tank.

So I said a few words to him and apologized for having to do this, and shut the freezer door. Olivia asked what I was doing.

"I'm putting him to sleep. It's better for him," I said. Of course, you can imagine the gears wildly turning in a six year old's cranium trying to shake out the logic on that one.

After trying not to laugh at the look on her face, I explained, "There comes a time in everyone's life when they get sick and they don't get better, Honey. Whitefish is really sick. I'm freezing him to death because I think it's the nicer thing to do for him. He's really suffering, you know. We want to be kind to our family members."

Slow acceptance of this really weird, really hard truth.

She said, "Suffering... like Popo?"

"Yes, Honey. But we aren't freezing Popo," I said. To me, it's obvious that we don't euthanize people. Kids are still learning the rules.

"Because she won't fit in the freezer?" came the innocent follow up.

5 Responses to “Fishcake”

  1. glam99:

    When I had tropical fish that needed to be euthanized, I would drop them into a small container of rubbing alcohol which would kill them almost instantly. HTH.

  2. Ken Conklin:

    Funny! Kids have a way of getting right to the core of an issue. But for us big kids wanting to get to the core of this issue and willing to ask embarrassing questions, I recommend the book "Death With Dignity" by Robert Orfali. It helped me get clear about my own wishes and write my own advance directive.

  3. kuunakanaka:

    aloha Diane:

    i'm guessing u don't have a chest freezer. 2 funny.

  4. Annie Lam:

    Pardon my ignorance. I didn't know you can freeze a fish to death!

  5. Gale:

    Diane, it is ironic that your poor fish is transitioning while mine did too. Mine, I think, was eaten by the other fish! I can only hope that he was dead first. There was almost nothing left of him when we discovered the crime this morning.

    As for the Betta. My Bettas who have passed on have done the sweetest goodbyes to us.

    Aloha to your betta.

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