We have a new pet at my house. After much discussion,
my daughter managed to talk my grandson out of a hamster - as
long as he could have a fish instead.
Now when a fish was mentioned, I though of a goldfish. It
seems, however, that goldfish have gone out of vogue. The pet
fish of choice these days is called a "Betta" fish. Iíd
never heard of such a thing, which shows how well I keep up with
trends, I guess. I thought beta was the second letter in the
In fish language, it has nothing to do with the alphabet.
Betta is the "genus" or part of the scientific name of
this particular biological species. Yes, itís been quite
disappointing to me as well. They are not even Greek fish; they
are Siamese fighting fish. You can only put one Betta fish in a
fishbowl, or they will fight with each other, sort of the Pit
Bulls of the fish world, I suppose.
"They are only five dollars," my daughter said.
"And they are really cute!" How a fish can be cute Iím
not quite sure, but anyhow I agreed that we could have a pet
My daughter volunteered to purchase the fish, not knowing
that the local Wal-Mart didnít have any. Purchasing the fish
turned out to mean going to the pet store. After dragging my
grandson past the hamsters and prying him loose from the gerbil
cage, she finally made it to the back of the store where the
fish aquariums were.
These aquatic critters come in a rainbow of colors like red,
green, purple, yellow, and blue. They are tropical fish but are
adaptable and can survive in a regular fishbowl. They can even
breathe air as well as oxygen from the water.
As my grandson pressed his nose against the glass, one fish
swam up to the glass as if to kiss him. "It likes me!"
Soon he came running home waving a plastic baggy full of
water with a small red fish inside. "Look, Grandma, I have
a fish! Its name is America." I didnít even ask about the
name, since I knew already knew it had nothing to do with the
We put the fish in the fishbowl, but it didnít seem happy.
Why? Well, I donít know why. It wouldnít swim around and
refused to eat. Maybe it is just adjusting to new surroundings,
we hoped. Now that we had a living creature to care for, we felt
responsible for itís happiness.
Time to look up the preferred lifestyle of a Betta fish, I
thought, going to my computer. To start with, we had filled its
bowl with tap water. Wrong! Tap water has chlorine. Fish hate
chlorine. "Buy bottled drinking water for your fish,"
advised the article. The fish gets Evian?
Then we found out the fish needed a larger bowl, "at
least one gallon of water per fish," advised the article.
So, it was back to the pet store for a jug of water and a larger
fishbowl, one with a lid, "So that Little Cat does not
decide to have sushi," explained my grandson.
While there, he also discovered another type of fish food -
dried worms. Yuck! The fish loved the new food, however, and
slurped it down, being famished after his hunger strike.
American was much more content in the large bowl with the
drinking water and a full stomach. He swam around gracefully,
looking quite attractive with his large delicate fins.
The next day my daughter called me at work. "Something
is wrong with America."
"What do you mean?" I asked, visualizing him
floating on top of the water or jumping out of the fishbowl.
"Heís blowing bubbles," she said.
Good grief! Heís a fish. Thatís what fish do!
Unlike other fish who are not even aware that you are alive,
Bettaís blow bubbles, swim up to the side of the bowl to greet
you, swim gracefully showing off their colorful fins, and will
even eat food from your fingers if you hold it close enough to
Who would ever think that a fish could be so cute?