Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Diary: Gus Coyne, the Fish; May He Rest In Peace.

Sometime during the day yesterday our Apache Cichlid, Gus, died.

We had seen this coming for a couple days; for over a week his tail's been getting thinner and thinner and her rarely emerged from his log, even to eat.

In the last few days we transferred him to a separate bowl where he might not be harrassed by those frantic tetras, and we poured in some fishy medicine, and put in the ceramic shark so he'd have a place to hide. But I think if we had known the end was so near and certain, we would have left him, because he loved that log.

It's a little strange writing so emotively about a fish I've known for seven months. Even the word "known" is a little strange; we connect more easily with dogs and cats because they move and eat and breathe similarly to humans, they have the ability to voice their pleasure or distress, and because we see them as more highly evolved. To a certain extent, this is true, and yet some fish are highly intelligent.

Gus certainly had a personality outized to anyone else in that tank. He was methodical in his feeding and territorial. He didn't flit spastically all over the place like the tetras, and when we introduced the Swordtails, he was a bit of a bully to them. Unlike the tetras, who jiggled nervously whenever they weren't schooling, Gus seemed happiest alone, poking through the stones for fallen bits of food or guarding his log. I don't think he was a mysanthrope; he certainly seemed curious about the tank, and whenever we'd change the position of plants or rocks he'd come out to see what was different. He was curious, and certainly showed no lack of vigor on the days we fed them brine shrimp. I think that Gus simply liked solitude. He wasn't given to the bursts of energy or nervousness of the other fish; he was just a cool kid, watching the world go by.

If you're so inclined, I invite you to raise a clear glass of drinking water sometime today, in memory of Gus.

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