Fish are absolute bastards.
Maybe you remember Maureen and Sadie? The angelfish. When I picked up the tank I had to drain it and bag up all the fish. The previous owner advised me as to who would share a bag and who could be on their own. Maureen and Sadie went in a bag together. “They’re inseparable,” he told me. “But they’re very very old for angelfish. They might not survive the journey.”
They survived. For ten months they floated around at the front of the tank, providing a serenity that the other busy fish did not bring. They were aging but calm. They were the focus for the tank, really.
When I got back from Jersey, they weren’t there. Vanished. The other fish were all accounted for. There was food in the feeder. But the two most obvious and visible fish? Vanished.
I have a cleaner. Maria. She comes occasionally and stops me getting buried in shit. My immediate thought was that she might have quietly disposed of the bodies and not told me. But no. She knew nothing of it.
I googled “my angelfish vanished” or somesuch. I wanted to see if what I feared was a frequent occurrence. They are peaceful fish by nature, angelfish, and fragile. Some of my loaches are fucking mental.
Lots of people have put similar things up. It seems it doesn’t take long for a fishy corpse to be munched.
So yeah. The angelfish were old. Very old for fish of that kind. I’d like to think that maybe they both just died naturally at exactly the same time, bound together in death as in life. It’s nice to think that, as another option is that one of them died and became food, and consequently the other one was thought of as food. And the third option was that they both just got ganged up on.
The websites I found were pretty clear on it. If your fish has vanished, it’s either jumped out and is on the floor dead near the tank, or it has been frenzied. “Look for little bones hidden under things in the tank.”
I looked. I found the little bones. Oh dear. There’s not much left of Maureen and Sadie now.
I named them after an old couple in Jersey who used to babysit for me when I was five or six. They were fun. They were my first experience of a same sex couple. And they were the first people I knew who died. I knew the fishy namesakes would go earlier than the other fish. I thought that perhaps I’d be able to honour their passing this time. To bid the fish farewell in a way I never could with the humans, and thereby thank them both for their small contributions to my upbringing. But no. Maureen and Sadie from the fish tank were cannibalised by their neighbors. No matter what you might expect about how inbred it all is in Jersey, I’m pretty sure their progenitors were spared a similar fate.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
Maybe I’ll get some more angelfish. But I’m kind of worried that the loaches have got a taste for angelfish meat now… I’ll have to do some research. The tank is poorer without them, even if I’m impressed they lived as long as they did.