Fish are pretty, colorful, quiet pets that require next to no maintenance. They tend to swim around, investigate or be frightened away when you tap the glass, explore all corners of their little tank-shaped world. They also tend to die.

Goldfish are probably the most well-known shortest-lasting fish I know. I’m convinced that’s why the Pepperidge Farm crackers are goldfish-shaped. Cheap to buy a whole bunch of them, but then they go by the handful. (Seriously, though, I can’t stop eating those things. Damn goldfish.)

My aunt tells me about the times when the aquarium in her room actually contained fish instead of dust. She’d wake up every morning at about the same time to a wet, sloshing sound, which was how she knew that once again, a particular fish had tried to escape. Somehow, the little sucker didn’t die as a result of his continuous adventures into the realm of the unwet.

Siamese fighting fish are some of the most deadly fish of all, though. Unlike most fish, you can’t put two of them in a tank together. My brother and I have owned a fair amount of fighting fish, and boy, are they nasty. They also have the habit of either dying randomly, or falling ill and lying on their side at the bottom of the tank for days. Every time you think the thing finally died, so you don’t feel any guilt flushing it (or in my little brother’s case, burying it) it gets another burst of energy, swoops to the top of the tank, grabs some air, and settles back down again.

I’d swear the things were manic-depressive. They’d be fine one minute, but if they see anything that even looks like another Siamese fighting fish, it’s dead. Stick a mirror next to a lone fighting fish and it’ll battle for hours. At one point, we owned two of these fish at once, and they were put in a divided tank. One morning I woke to find them jumping out of the water, trying to get over the divider in the middle just to destroy their neighbor.

Then once they get to be a few days old, that’s when their depressive bouts start. They lay almost completely on their side at the bottom of the tank. More often than not the two fish have different cycles, so one of them will be lying at the bottom of the tank while the other will be zipping around on the other side of the divider. Then suddenly they get over it and everything’s fine again, until one of them gets pissed off.

Really though, fish seem determined to die. Maybe it’s an act of will for some, like my aunt’s old fish. Maybe they just get bored of being in the same tank all the time. But come on! My cat has no problem staying in one spot for most of his life! And owning a pet that’s likely to give up the ghost at any minute and go to that great tank in the sky isn’t a good idea when you’ve got a younger sibling who’s at the age where very death is traumatic.

Boy, pets are just endless sources of blog material, aren’t they? I guess ‘cuz they’re easy to complain about and you don’t have to worry about insulting them. Besides, cats are cute.

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