For years, Katherine has been asking for pets: fish, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, a dog (her fondest wish), basically anything other than our boring old cats that don't like her. So after she showed she could handle the responsibility by feeding the cats on a regular basis, we started her on the lowest rung of the ladder of pet ownership : goldfish.
Tuesday evening, she came home with two goldfish with the seasonally appropriate names of Pumpkin and Halloween (my suggestion of calling the orange and black Halloween Kalanazoo College was soundly rejected). They swam around their new tank and all seemed well.
The next afternoon, Katherine frantically told me that Pumpkin's tail was caught in the filter. When we turned the filter off, it quickly became clear that he got caught because he was already dead. As he floated to the surface, we saw Halloween floating up there as well. Much distress followed.
We called the pet store to find out what might kill two fish in less than 24 hours, and not getting any satisfactory answers, scooped the bodies out into a tupperware dish to take them back to get replacements. But then the next morning, we looked in the dish to discover Halloween was still swimming around. We felt terribly guilty at the thought of the poor fish swimming around in three inches of water with a dead body all night, but put him back in the tank and went and got a new fish, Googly Eyes.
Then yesterday morning, Katherine came and told me that Halloween was once again dead. I went to check and he was once again floating at the surface. I poked him to get him into a better position to scoop him out and lo and behold, he started swimming again. At this point, all I could figure was that he either tended to list to his side when he slept or he should be renamed Lazarus.
As it turns out, Halloween actually died last night. In retrospect, a healthy fish shouldn't make you constantly wonder if it's alive or not. So far, Googly Eyes seems to remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but we feel awful at how disastrously Katherine's first foray into pet ownership has gone through no fault of her own. I knew that goldfish were short-lived, but I think we're all starting to get paranoid every time we pass the tank, wondering if the current fish will live out the week or not.