Ode to Mr. Fish

My children have a vintage story-book they love about a boy who has a goldfish. Despite warnings from the fish store proprietor, the boy feeds the goldfish much too much, and the fish grows and grows, outgrowing his tank, the kitchen sink, the bathtub, the basement and ends up at the community pool. If you are familiar with the book, you know what happens, and probably think it is just a cute story. But in our family, we know that it is real, and in fact, is based on my brother’s (#22) goldfish, Mr. Fish.

When Dumb was in 5th grade (makes him maybe…ten?), he went to a carnival at his elementary school, and won a little, tiny orange ‘feeder’ fish in a plastic bag. He brought it home and put it in a bowl on the kitchen counter, and named him Mr. Fish (genius and creativity are not bedmates). There was one particularly close call when Tequila (bad pet names run in the family), my mom’s cat, actually had Mr. Fish out on the counter, gasping for water, licking his kitty-lips with glee, when we caught him. Mr. Fish survived the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, where gobs of water sloshed from his bowl and we didn’t notice, several incidents with Tequila, three housing moves, and lots of neglect from a less than attentive boy. Through it all, in spite of the care he got, he continued to grow.

Due only to my mom’s guilt, he was moved from the first fishbowl to a small tank in Dumb’s room, then a larger tank, then a large tank with filter and fancy stuff back in the kitchen, and finally to a very large tank with no fancy stuff because there was no room for fancy stuff and Fish. This diminutive, guppy-sized fishy grew and grew, with each new bowl and tank, he simply filled it up, as though the extra room was a personal challenge. Remember, this was a “feeder-fish”, the kind made for turtles and other tank-dwellers to dine on. Not even a real goldfish!

So yesterday, my mom and step-dad went to the local fish store to see about getting yet another larger tank (seriously, upgrading to 25 gallons…for one fish) and began to talk to the fish-man about Mr. Fish. Fish-Man did not believe them when they told him about Mr. Fish. So, he gave them a big bucket, and sent them home to get Mr. Fish so he could see for himself. When they returned to the store with Mr. Fish in the bucket, and removed the lid, a group of people gathered around to see this freak-of-nature. For one thing, Mr. Fish is not orange anymore. He is clear. Yes, really. Clear. You can see inside of him. And, he is 12 years old, and over nine inches long. He NOT a koi fish, he is a “feeder-fish”, and Fish-man marveled at him, and got his entire story from my mom. And then, Fish-Man offered to buy Mr. Fish from my mom.

Mr. Fish now has yet another new tank, and a new home. He is in a very large tank at a very nice aquarium store, and I shudder to think how he may grow with the proper care and room. I wonder if Fish-man knows what he got himself into? Really, one carnival fishy turned into a 12 year commitment for my mom. I suspect after the waves of guilt subsided, she danced and little jig out in the parking lot. In the space of one week, she got rid of Dumb and Mr. Fish. Now, that’s freedom…

12 thoughts on “Ode to Mr. Fish

  1. How in the hell after 12 years do you just get rid of a family pet. Now I am no friend of pets by any means. I do not have any and never will, but come on. Mr. Fish has been in the family for years how do you just dump him off and leave. What is the matter with people.

  2. Susan, my mom would heartily agree with you! I can’t figure out how to post a picture yet, but I am working on it!
    B.D…I was kind of surprised too, but its my mom, and she wanted the counter space, I guess!

  3. I can’t believe Mr. Fish is gone. You forgot to add about the pebbles that he would suck up and get stuck, and the time I gave your mom a fish tank of mine and it almost killed Mr. Fish. What fish store? I think I may need to visit!AEM

  4. I am shocked and disappointed that Mr. Fish was thrown away without a care in the world! I have lost respect. I can’t imagine getting rid of a friend after 12 years. How sad. RLB

  5. what do you mean mr. fish is gone?!!! i told your mom i would give him a home in my koi pond with all the other fish! i can’t believe she would give him away to a total stranger!!! i may have to drive up there and rescue him. good luck mr. fish!
    love, uncle todd

  6. I remeber the vintage goldfish book also, it was a favorite of mine. I would like to get it for my daughter, but can’t remember the name. Could you help me with that?

    Thank you.

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