Wednesday, May 05, 2010

In Which I Have a Change of Heart . . . About Fish (at least the live kind)

I was about seven or eight when my brother brought home a small goldfish in a plastic bag full of water. He would be the first of three, the last one living quite a long time, swimming forever in his round bowl.

Our home would soon become the home of other fish, from Betta to Neon to kinds I can't remember. My younger brother and I named every single one. We took turns feeding them and spent hours watching them. They were beautiful and graceful. Oh, to be a fish! It was quite an event in our house when it came time to clean the tank. Then they died.

We tried again. Only, my heart wasn't in it quite as much. I hesitated at naming them. It was hard not to be drawn to them, however. They all died quite suddenly one day, and I was devastated. I swore off fish forever. Eventually my feelings turned to a strong dislike of fish, both alive or dead (whales and dolphins being the exception). Unfair to the live fish, I know, but true.

I have never developed a taste for fish or seafood. Every week when my parents forced me to eat it, I drenched it in ketch-up so I couldn't taste it. I have tried a variety of different fish and other seafood over the years to no avail. My taste buds reject it every time.

Getting back to where I was going with all of this, I came across an article in Bookmarks Magazine the other day about Rebecca Skloot and her father. I saw mention of an article she'd written called "Fixing Nemo", about veterinary care and fish. I am not sure what compelled me to look up the story, but look it up I did. The article is funny and touching. Not to mention fascinating. Imagine being the doctor who operates on a fish! Go ahead. Read it.

While I am not any more eager to rush out the pet store and buy a fish tank and fish than I was before reading the article, I have more of an appreciation for the little (or big) guys.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I saw the same article! I heart my Bookmarks magazine. I was pretty ambivalent about fish as a kid. I never had one as a pet, and there were no good choices to eat except catfish (ick) since we were as far from the ocean as we could get! Today though, we LOOOOVE to eat fish!

  2. That was a very interesting article.

    I personally am not fond of fish bowls or small fish tanks, there is something sad about seeing those fishes contained within a small area that breaks my heart :)

  3. How interesting! We have fish and I have the same problem with them - they die so easily. We had a big fish that we were quite fond of who became ill one night and was dead the next morning. I definitely hesitate to name them or care about them these days.

    Also just a quick FYI - your link doesn't work properly. I needed to delete from the beginning of it to get it to work.

  4. A friend of mine had a salt water fish tank and the fish in it were just gorgeous. I would love to have one, but I'd have to hire someone to maintain it for me. Going to read the article now.

  5. I am not a big fan of fish either. I agree with the poster above who just feels sad seeing them swim around a small enclosure. I have gotten better about the eating of fish though, and have recently tries several different kinds, my favorite being salmon. I am going to have to go and read that article now, as I am very curious about it!! Thanks!

  6. Sandy - I think my cats would be fascinated by fish if we had any. I can't say I want to go through all that again, to be honest. I'll admire them from afar.

    I never aquired the taste for fish even as an adult no matter how many times people convinced me to try. It wasn't meant to be.

    I haven't finished reading through my Bookmarks magazine yet as I'm trying to draw it out a little. Too many tempting books. LOL

    Voilet - I always wonder about the fish in Rain Forest Cafe. They have a pretty big tank/tub to swim in but it still seems small to me. It makes me sad too.

    Meghan - It's so sad. Fish are so fragile, aren't they? Especially the little ones. I imagine the fish vets don't work on the small ones much, if at all. The focus seems to be on the bigger and more expensive ones.

    Thanks for the heads up about the link. It's working now.

    Kathy - Yes, many of the salt water fish are beautiful. They do require a lot of care, but I'm sure those who have them would say they're worth it.

    Heather - I would like to go snorkeling some day to see fish in a more natural habitat. I think that would be fun.

  7. Alive, dead, cooked, fish just gross me out in all forms. I hate their eyes, yuck. Sharks don't bother me as much, interestingly, I think because their eyes are totally different. And I love watching dolphins and whales, but of course they're not actually fish.

  8. Wow, that article is something! The craziest part is the vet talking about how he goes fishing on weekends, then does surgery on pet fish starting mondays! I used to have angelfish when I was a kid, but I never would have dreamed of looking for a vet for them.

  9. I had an aquarium as a kid and loved it. I think I liked the fact that it created a nighlight in my room as much as I ever enjoyed the fish. My son begged for fish when he was little and they died and were buried in our pet cemetary one after the next. I was pretty glad when he outgrew the fish stage. Now when I think of fish I am either eating them or actually fishing for them myself when I go camping. I never knew they were operated on...that is seriously fascinating!

  10. I feel for the U.P.F. They don't seem to be getting any respect.

  11. I had goldfish as a child and then saltwater fish when I was married. I was not very fond of them as it seems most fish do not live a long time in tanks. The article sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing. I am going to look it up now.

  12. Jen - I'm not too keen on the eyes of fish either. I don't know how people can eat a fish with its head still attached, its little beady black eye staring straight at you.

    Jeane - Yes, I thought that was crazy about the vet going fishing on the weekends. I'm not sure I'd be able to do that in his place.

    Kathleen - I was fascinated at the lengths the doctors are able to go in treating fish. I mentioned reading the article to my cat's vet last week, and she said she'd heard of it but didn't know much about it. She was quite amused by the whole subject, actually. :-)

    Jill - You're right. U.P.F. have an undeserved bad rap among fish snobs, if you ask me.

    Sari - This will sound strange, but it was this article by the author that made me decide I really needed to read her nonfiction book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

  13. i don't eat anything from the water--i just never developed a taste for seafood--and kept a fish in a bowl at school in my office. the high school kids got a kick out of it.

    i sent it home with a student over spring break and the fish is now living a happy life in an aquarium with other fish.

    i often think about getting another fish but the dread i felt each monday upon opening my door isn't something i miss! i was always afraid the fish would croak over the weekend. :)

  14. When my boys each had a guinea pig, my daughter wanted a pet, too. But I knew she couldn't take care of much so we got her a Betta. Six months later, it was dead, and she was devastated. We tried again. This time, no matter how careful we were the fish had a couple of days after every bowl cleaning where it swam on it's side at the top of the bowl. Clearly we are not fish people!

  15. The men in my life always seem to like fish, and now OH has three in a tank and an unspecified number in a pond. I loved the comedian David Mitchell on tropical fish recently: he said that you started out with lots but soon there was one last little red and blue one all on its own in the tank that lived for years and you couldn't bear to do anything about - that was so familiar!

  16. We had tropical fish too when I was a kid -- eventually, it was too emotional when they died and we got rid of the tank. I'll have to go read the article.

  17. Never had any fish.
    Interesting article, can't imagine fish surgery. So delicate.

  18. I can't imagine doing veterinary medicine on a fish! How interesting.
    I don't like to eat fish either but I love anything that comes in a shell. Oh well! :-)

  19. I'll always remember the MAD guide to Tropical Fish. The upshot was that they always died.

    We had fish as a kid, and I liked them, but now I prefer my fish in the ocean, or in my stomach. They are beautiful ... and tasty ... and I admire anyone who makes a go with them as pets.

  20. Nat - I guess some of us just weren't born with the tastebuds for seafood. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

    I like the idea of having a classroom fish. I can understand your concern for the fish though. I'd probably share that same dread come Monday morning.

    Lisa - Your poor daughter!It's so hard when they always seem to die. You just don't want to become attached to them.

    Geranium Cat - It does seem like there's often one that hangs on. It was like that with that one gold fish we had. I always wondered if he got lonely.

    Beth - It's hard when they are always dying. :-(

    Carla & Marie - I have a hard time imagining fish surgery too, Carla. It must take great skill, not to mention patience.

    Frances Hunter - Fish don't seem to be an easy pet to keep. I share your admiration with people who are able to. And I agree about prefering my fish in the ocean. Seeing fish in their natural habititat is much more preferrable.

  21. I used to have fishes for pet. Actually, it was my dad's goldfishes but still, I got to feed them...

    I love eating fish.

  22. Alice - It's so fun watching them eat. :-)

  23. Great minds think alike Wendy. After I read the article in Bookmarks I also found Fixing Nemo. It was hilarious.

  24. Teddy - It was! I'm so glad I decided to read it.


Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.