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Harper is Not Dead. March 4, 2009

I keep thinking my fish Harper is gone for good. The first occurrence of his death happened while Michelle was staying in my office. I went in to feed him, stepping over the queen-sized airbed that took up the ENTIRE floor space, and he was gone.

No, really. All the way gone. There was no fish in the tank. At all.

I told myself that I was just being silly, so I pulled out the tank. I looked behind the fake plant. Then behind the ship's wheel resting on the rocks (I just typoed ship as sheep three times). No fish. That only left the little treasure chest. Oh, god. Had he swum inside and the lid (which has a hinge) closed on him? Would I lift the lid to release my dead fish? I stuck my hand in the water and opened the chest.

Nothing. No fish. I let the lid drift down and searched the bowl again. Still no sign of life. I got Lala to help me with the search. And I have to admit, the thought flitted through my mind: What did Michelle DO with my fish? Did she pack it up as a San Francisco souvenir for Scout? Midnight sushi?

La pointed out that I might want to pick UP the treasure chest. I did. And Harper swam out. Oh, god! Had he been trapped? For how long? Was it a close call? Oh, what a bad fish mom! But Lala argued that he'd swum under it -- he could get out. (Marbles line the bottom of the tank, and it's uneven -- I think she's right about that.)

Since then, I've found him hiding under the chest a couple of times, and twice the whole thing has been overturned and sitting upside down. I don't think I'm imagining that he's playing with it. Do fish really play? He has this habit of swimming down to the chest and then lying across it, like a chanteuse on a piano. He rests for a bit, pokes at the lid, swims up, then down again, draping himself sexily along the purple plastic. I didn't even know fish KNEW about gravity, but he does.

I love my fish.

Edited to add: I forgot, I was going to take this class, but now I can't, but that means you can! The peerless Kira will be teaching a shirt-making class at knit-one-one. I totally wanted to take it so I can learn how to make a button-down shirt for MY size. Details here.

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Comments

How much fun is that? We had a beta fish that jumped out of his tank (my little girl came to tell me that Smith went for a walk (?))
It took me five minutes to find him under the table where his tank was. I put him back in the water, held up a mirror to get his heart a'thumping, and he lived (for 6 more mos). Fish do have personalities.

Please, more fish stories... that was pretty good. I love your fish too!

Yes! Fish do play. We had a fish that would regularly rearrange his tank including moving some pretty big stuff. He also moved the stones on the bottom around and made himself a litte cave to hide in. It was amazing.

My mom had some goldfish who thought they were flying fish. They'd leap out of the tank. Usually we were fast enough that we could scoop them up and put them back. But once we weren't and the fish disappeared down behind the bookcase where the tank was.

I thought you were going to say you found him on the floor. I used to have a beta named Balthazar who was forever jumping out of his bowl, before I finally wised up and got him a tank. :)

Betas love plants, especially ones that cover the top of the tank in a canopy. They like caves, too. It sounds like he wants to hide. Also, fish usually like to squeeze into tight spaces, because then they know there are no predators around them. My ex kept fish for years and I did a lot of research for him, even though I suck at keeping fish myself. I'm like the Grim Reaper for the poor little guys. :(

Fish often move things in the tank, especially gravel or other substrate in the tank. Many species jump (keep at least a partial cover over the top of your tank!). Some species can survive and move across land for a while - my hubby (before we were married) had a lungfish, which in its native habitat would move over land from pond/water to pond/water - it escaped frequently, although eventually it managed to get behind some shelving and wasn't found soon enough. The larger, more aggressive fish do seem to have personalities (bigger brains?)...

Reminds me of the fish in "Finding Nemo" who loves the bubbles that come out of the treasure chest.

How funny! I had a snail once that we felt like had a personality - he would climb to the top of the tank up the side and then literally let go and surf down. It was hilarious! Glad Harper is okay!

We had a placostomus (<-- that is surely spelled wrong) that used to love swimming upside down along the surface of the tank and spraying like a fountain. We called it his water ballet routine. He'd swim to the surface, flutter his fins, flip over and spray. Deeeelightful.

perhaps a piece of nylon screen over the top of his bowl would be a prudent idea!

of course like everyone else that has posted, i too have had suicidal fish, including betas...i thought you were going to find him on the floor...my beta "Scarlett" jumped out oh mebbe 10, 15 times, before jumping once too many and ended up as a sushi for Butt the Earsucking Cat....sigh...i saw him carrying scarlett around limply from his mouth for a minute but couldn't catch him before the big Gulp. no more fishies for me. too nerve wracking. i guess scarlett was a frustrated writer.

Mark checks on Nova almost as much as I checked on the kid when he was a baby? Is he breathing?!?

oh too bad - that class would be great! i've finally found a store that sells button down shirts that actually fit me all over, including the front, with either having to buy a size too big so the shoulders droop but the girls are covered or buying a size that fits my body and looking like a stripper with buttons about to pop. the stripper is not a good look for the office, although i'm sure at some point it brightened someone's day.

We had a clown loach that liked to play dead.

He would lay on his side till I came up and yelled at him " You better not be dead young man! " and he'd swim away.

Until Tuesday. :-( Fat Boy and our Pleco Leo succumbed to some fungus.

At this point we are hoping to keep the two Angel Fish from getting it.

Sigh, Fat Boy was at least 8 years old.

I am CRACKING UP at the brief second you thought I did something to/with your fish. Because I totally would've had that nanosecond thought too.

Now I want to open a restaurant called Midnight Sushi. That or it's my next Rock Band name.

I have always thought fish had personalities...our goldfish Yoshi seems to really love swimming through the bubble strip thing we have in his tank that makes a curtain of bubbles across the back wall...and one day I nearly had a heart attack when I looked in his tank and could not see him. Anywhere. I started moving things around and finally found him under a squid statue thing that we had decorating the tank. It was open underneath, making like a cage with its tentacles and was just large enough for a 4" long goldfish to swim into and get stuck! I rescued him and removed the squid, now he just plays with the bubbles. Crazy fish! =)

LOL at typo. Does that mean you have sheep for brains?

I had angelfish that jumped out during thunderstorms, and my elephant nose was a herculean leaper. My bettas never did, though.

You must forgive us if we are in any way skeptical about one of your dearly beloved pets having died and/or disappeared because, well, I have one word for you: Digit.

Harper is a betta yes? My old betta loved to play and flirt (whenever someone would come into the room he would come up to the side of the tank and flash his gills and flutter his fins). And if it is a betta, they like to have cover and somewhere to hide when they're getting stressed or just don't want to be seen, so they dig under or hide or whatever their tiny fishy brains tell them to do.

Fish are cool, as all critters are.

I love your Critter Chronicles, and wondered if you knew yer dad had bunches growing up.

o goldfish
o sparrow named Lucky
o owl (3 days)
o chickens...many times!
o parakeets
o dogs

Maybe you caught a little from me as well as yer mom, who be-petted every critter.

Love,
Dad

Somebody meet me to it, but I wanted to point out that we all know that even if it seemed Harper was dead, he wouldn't be -- he would appear at the door meowing. Well, maybe not that last part, but still....

And, look -- your dad commented!

You should look at boston.com for the article about the octopus at the Boston Aquarium. The thing is something like 9 ft. long and it stuffed itself into a 14" cube yesterday while trying to get at some food. Perhaps a distant cousin? Hilarious.

hee. it's so cute to imagine a fish peeking out of the treasure chest, waiting for you to get curious and come play. and also, I so wish I could take that class!

Hi, lurker de-lurking because of something which made her think of you, or really Lala.

I live in Baltimore and today our local NPR affiliate aired a story on the Roc-a-Jets, a 1950s rockabilly band by/for lesbians. No, seriously. You can photos of their awesome-looking selves here: http://www.signalradio.org/

I want a fish.

I have no fish stories other than those about fish I have caught and eaten. However, I have a book recommendation. Austrialian author of South African descent- could not put this down. Part social commentary, part detective novel, part romance, all amazing. Talk about being conflicted over who/what you are! So glad I didn't live or grow up in apartheid South Africa. "A Beautiful Place to Die" by Malla Nunn.

Chuckling over here...my sister blogs over at http://mythoughtsonthat.wordpress.com/...check out the "Turtle Drama" post.

Don and his first wife Judy had something like five betas in five bowls lined up in their kitchen, one for each of the children (I guess at that time they only had five) and if one of the fish died, they quietly removed it, sent it on a long trip down the toilet, and replaced it--all while the children were in school or otherwise occupied. According to Don, the children to this day do not know about the behind-the-scenes details...so--shhh!--don't tell 'em! (I'm sure you know Chris!) ***Also, "a leg up"date (thank you for not asking!): I can now go down most stairs almost normally, without holding on to a handrail or someone's arm, hurrah! Lotsa love, Gaynelle & Don

For a moment I thought you had an update on the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
(I am pretty sure you didn't name your fish after him, as he is of the conservative fundamentalist Christian "pro-family" variety.)
I would much rather have your fish come to mind when I hear the name Harper.
Thanks for the very evocative blog post!

http://www.fish-school.com/

Maybe Harper would like one of the toys from this site. It claims you can teach your fish to do tricks.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.

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