The second part of the title is slightly premature as, at the time of writing at least, our goldfish ‘Rocky’ is still with us – but he (I assume it’s a ‘he’, I don’t really know how you would possibly check for the sex of a goldfish) appears to be slowly making his way to the great big tank in the sky. It’s a sad sight to see as he bravely fights against the swim bladder problem that has often caused him to float upside down near the top of his tank for the past few weeks.
I don’t know what has caused it. I know that some goldfish need to have the food pushed down into the water because they struggle, often with similar problems, when coming up to the top for food. Rocky, however, has been unaffected by this for the past 4 years, so maybe it’s just old age or something else that has stricken him? It’s certainly not for lack of care – we have always fed him the appropriate amount, cleaned his tank and done water changes as and when necessary; we have added swim bladder treatments and made sure that new water has been treated accordingly.
Part of me has occasionally wondered if it would not simply be better to just put him out of his misery and take him out of the tank to breathe his last. But I just can’t do it – it would be awful and, whilst he is still breathing, he remains in the tank whilst we hope for a remarkable recovery.
Rocky first entered our lives in March 2008, about 3 weeks after Mrs.D (who was then Miss.H) moved into my small but cosy one-bedroom flat. He was not always alone of course. Various friends have come and gone in that time. The tank started out as a three-fish home with ‘Red’ and ‘Bruce’ initially swimming alongside Rocky. Sadly, they eventually passed away along with their successors ‘Bob’ and ‘Otis’. Since the passing of Bruce in late 2010, Rocky has been the sole occupant. He has been a constant presence – a witness to my somewhat clumsy proposal (to my wife, not to him obviously) and has been around as my wife and I embarked upon married life, entered our thirties and eventually moved into a new home last summer.
Other pets (of the non-fish variety) have been suggested at various times. We would love to own a dog but because, for the majority of the time anyway, we are both at work and away from home for around 9-10 hours a day, it would be unfair on the dog. Hence why, at this time in our lives, Rocky has been the ideal pet. He has seemed quite happy swimming around amongst his plastic plants and borderline-tacky ornaments (well as happy as you can be when you effectively live in your own toilet), eagerly awaiting the next batch of flakes to pop into the tank. When we’ve been away, he has had those fish blocks that keep him fed and occupied for the duration of the break.
So – when the time does come to say goodbye to him, it will be a sad day – the end of an era. It sounds daft but this because, for just over four years, this little fish has been around during a lot of changes – some exciting periods as well as some difficult moments. But ultimately he has been a part of what has, and is, undoubtedly the happiest time of my life. His swimming days may soon be over but, despite being a little goldfish, he will be missed.