Monday, 18 February 2008
For the Love of a Fish
For the love of a fish
Yes that's right a bloomin fish.
I first saw Cyd from a distance at Dobbie's last October. Dobbie's being a Garden Centre. This particular Dobbie's is in Stirling and has an aquarium section.
I had gone to Dobbie's with HS to meet up with Wildchild and Robot Boy and his new girlfriend – all in honour of the fact that Jonna was over from Montana and wanted to see all of us – but that is another tale. We all had lunch together and I can recommend the food at Dobbie's . . .not a single cocktail skewered club sandwich in sight.
After the meal we all wandered around Dobbie's and I purposefully meandered and steered everyone into the aquarium section – I'd had it all planned out since April you see – I wanted a big fish tank for my birthday in December and then two Parrot Fish for my Xmas present – controlling ME!!!! Pah – read on . . . arms folded, foot tapping . . .
As we looked around the various aquariums Jonna pointed to a large and well planted tank and said that's a nice fish . . . I turned and looked and WOW . . . something about that fish . . . WOW . . . NO, NO I want Parrot Fish, but I had to ask anyway, well of course I did, I mean well, didn't I?. I was told that it was a Piranha fish . . .eeeeeeeeek . . and that it had only one eye . . . ahhhhhh and that it had been bullied by the other piranha fish and had to be separated from them AHHHHHHHHH . . .and that it was the shop pet . . . ohhhhhh . . .no, no . . that's good, very good because I wanted Parrot Fish. . . .
So the weeks to Xmas began to skitter by. Any excuse and I would go to Stirling and casually drop into Dobbie's and talk about tanks and Parrot Fish and how to look after them . . . and every time I went to see the Piranha. At first he was in the same tank I had originally seen him in and he looked happy. Then he got moved into a little square tank all on his own. WHY? Because the fish he had been swimming with had all died of old age (berlimey that has to be good if you are living with a piranha) . . . and the tank was being cleaned out and re-planted and he might, or might not be returned to the tank. OH . . . NO!!!! The piranha over the next few weeks seemed to spent all his time up against a piece of black mesh in the far corner of the tank and looked . . .well . . . .frankly, miserable. Then he got white spot . . . . a fish disease . . .often brought on by stress . . . .NO, NO, too much, far, FAR, too much . . .so . . . I asked Dobbie's if they would consider selling the Piranha to me . . . . .mmmmmm . . . . .wellllllll . . . .yes we would . . . .£5.00 . . . Kerching . . . .
WOW . . . .REALLY . . . . .eeeeeeek . . . .OK . . .gulp . . . .Visions of parrot Fish swimming out of my well planned window.
Told HS my mad plan . . . .he was not keen . . . .but long . . .yawn . . .story short . . .we talked it all through and my darling man bought me a 125 Litre Tank for my Birthday on the 13th December. We set the tank up and left it for a week to 'mature' . . . then plotted to pick up Oscar . . .or Pip . . as I had planned to call the Piranha, on the 23rd December – the same day we were picking Robot Boy up. So big Xmas home coming in more way than one.
I phoned Dobbie's a couple of days beforehand to control – I mean organise the collection. The fish had recovered from his white spot and was ready to be picked up. I was also told that my special fish had bitten one of the people working at Dobbie's – he had poked my fish – gently – on his blind side because a customer had said he thought the fish was dead . . . . SNAP . . . he wasn't and bit the finger that prodded him.
Pick up day . . . with Son and Xmas shopping all done and dusted we went to collect Cyd . . . .yup that was his new name. . . Cyd Vicious – well what else could I possibly call him? At Dobbie's I was shown the injured finger – Cyd had bitten a perfect circle out of the offending digit . . . .respect from me – pain and a TB injection for the owner of the digit. . . Cyd was bagged up ready for the journey to his new home. . . .STOP . . .should that bag be pouring water all over the floor like that!!!!!!! Yikes, Cyd had bitten through the bag – a perfect circle – he was double bagged and double bit through them all – more perfect circles. So Cyd travelled home in a bucket . . . I actually felt sick with nerves what . . .yes WHAT had I taken on – this was a very far shriek from the gentle Parrot Fish I had been planning since April . . . I now owned a finger savaging, bag shredding streak of teeth.
We got Cyd home without incident and even got him into the tank without a problem. Cyd appeared to settle into his tank very quickly. He ate his first cooked shrimp the next day and although he hid most of the time all seemed well. HAH no berludy chance . . . all was NOT well. A greyish patch developed on his blind side . . .it got bigger every day . . . a dash to Dobbie's, complete with pictures of the offending patch, produced the explanation . . . an ULCER . . .what . . .I didn't know fish could get ulcers. Well since that horrible day I have learned quite a lot that I didn't know about fish . . . I have learned how to test the tank water and proudly own a whole army of test kits. I have learned a bit about the common fish diseases and how to treat them and now have a fish medicine cabinet. I have learned about filters and motors and powerheads and heaters and Nitrites and Nitrates and Ammonia and PH and KH and the sheer sickening feeling that you get when your special fish is ill. I have a collection of test tubes and litmus strips and various coloured charts to compare my tank water against . . .and drawers full of stuff . . .loads and loads of stuff . . . .
It took several weeks and two different medications to cure Cyd of his ulcer. Cyd appeared to react to the second lot of medication and stopped eating . . . oh the stomach churning horror of it all . . . I did 2x25% water changes added tonic salt, did a lot of pacing . . . and looking pale and worried . . .I even joined a Piranha Forum . . .good grief did you know most Piranha owners are male and some have very sexist avatars . . .eeerrrreeerk, but helpful advice, if you can ignore jiggling bosoms and the like. AND then YES, WHOOP - WHOOP Cyd started eating again. I reckon a mixture of medication and me keeping the light off too much and allowing my plants to put too much Carbon Dioxide in the water was the cause of the problem. . . maybe. . . .
Oh good grief what an emotional wringer I have bought. How on earth can one fish be so complicated. He got seriously upset when I put the overhead lights on at 5.00am one morning – I was taking our Collie out – she had runs. Cyd shot up through the water and I heard the clunk on the tank canopy . . . . thank goodness I had a tank canopy . . .no-one in their right mind would want to pick up a scared thrashing Piranha from the floor. Cyd must have banged his head quite hard because he developed pop eye . . . NOOOOO – his one eye all swelled up and I thought he was going to lose it. I got more medication only to discover I couldn't use it because Piranhas can react very badly to it (malachite green in case you were wondering . . no . . oh well). . . .then the Pop Eye just cleared up on its own. AND . . . Breathe . . . .and relax . . .
I now only have table lamps in the fish room (it was MY office once) I have taken the bulbs out of the overhead lights. Cyd sulked for a day when I used the hoover in my room . . .I took up my lovely brown fluffy rug from my wooden floor and now only sweep the floor . . . .sigh . . . Cyd sulks if it gets very windy outside . . .Cyd sulks when I first put on the light in his tank each day . . .sigh . . .and sulks if I move to quickly and scare him . . . berludy hell – no-one warned me Piranha were so flippin sensitive.
Cyd now seems recovered from the ulcer and appears actually happy with his life – even living on his own. Piranhas as they get older apparently become more solitary. Cyd is about a year old now.
And the good bits . . . . .Oh yes there really are good bits . . .Cyd rewards me every day . . . he actually responds to me (which was originally why I wanted Parrot Fish – they seem to form a bond with their owner). . . I 'stroke' him through the glass and he follows my fingers . . . and when I am in the room he watches me . . .and yes, as has been suggested, he may well be trying to lull me into a false sense of security before dining on my digits. But I am able to put my hands into his tank to do the necessary maintenance and although he swims around he has never ever tried to attack me – I have stopped short at trying to stroke him in the tank though.
I love Cyd . . .ridiculous loving a fish I know, but I do. He lives in my office and every day is my inspiration . . . so if I ever get published . . . um . . .
can you dedicate a book to a fish . . .
Cyd is now officially called Cyd Fishus . . . Wildchild added the Fishus in one of her lightbulb moments. I of course claim all credit for the inspired name – because after all I am Wildchild's mother!!!!!!!!!
I owe a big thank you to the staff at Dobbie's Aquarium Stirling . . .they have been so very patient with me and endlessly listened to and answered all my questions, both in person and by phone . . .They looked after Cyd for a whole year – and that goes against business . . .he took up tank room after all for fish that could be sold – but they cared for him and gave him the best life they could. They all ask after Cyd every time I pop in to Dobbie's. They have apparently nicknamed me Piranha . . . I in turn am really gratefull for all their patience and understanding.
So to Dobbie's I bow and thank you for the opportunity of getting to know and love Cyd . .
And to Cyd . . .I salute you and thank you for coming into my life . . .