My friend Lyota

So Sam died. In truth, I worry that I took him out of a comfortable environment. In the back of the fish room, in dim lighting and without filtered water or a heat source, he thrived – healthy and beautiful and making little bubble nests for a potential mate to come and join him in his paradise. I took him home (during which he spent two and a half hours in the bag because I drove to Rockingham to drop a colleague off while the trains are down) and he lived a quiet two and a half days in my tank. I discovered him yesterday morning, gently pirouetting in the gravel.

I took a water sample into work to test the pH, the general hardiness and the ammonia. The pH was unusually high (8.1, when it’s supposed to be around 7) but that probably wouldn’t have killed him. I’ve bought some pH down and a testing kit, and work was kind enough to pass another fish into my care. His name is Lyota, or Leo (or possibly Lion) for short. So far he’s survived the night, pressed up against the glass of the heater. It was particularly cold, so I’ve cranked it up another degree. I’ll do my best to help him at least see summer.

I’m sad at the possibly needless loss of life, and that I might have somehow been responsible for it, but I’m not weighed down by the loss. Here is the only picture I ever took of Sam, and a picture of Lyota sitting on top of the heater. Apologies for the quality, but I found it hard to take a picture of him against the dark background when he spent most of his time at the bottom of the tank. Here’s to hoping I don’t continue this train of death and make another “My friend” post tomorrow.

Sam the Fish

Sam the Fish

Lyota the Fighter

Lyota the Fighter

My friend Sam

Alas, I am quite tired so I fear this entry may not be a very well-written one. It seems that so often I get home and spend hours cleaning and organising, and that I stay up far later than I intend doing things that I’ve been putting off for days. I suppose I just need to do less, procrastinate less, live more.

As it stands, I’m having a wonderful time being alive. I’ve never enjoyed work more. Not just on a superficially joyful level, but in an honest and heartfelt way. I love helping people, and I love having the competence to help keep the store running. I realised the other day that “there are no rules”. There is absolutely no need to wear a uniform or be punctual or sell products in exchange for money. These things are all artifices, and at the end of the day, what matters is that people are happy and healthy. The main reason why I go to work is to facilitate that happiness – to be a conduit for them, a medium by which they can enjoy shopping for their beloved animal companions and giving up money (numbers in an account and plastic sheafs) in exchange for knowledge and goods. And when I look at it like that, it really doesn’t matter what I do, so long as the job gets done. Once I get past the fear of nigh unlimited possibility, life is actually pretty grand.

But tonight I want to talk about my new friend Sam. He’s a half-moon betta, more commonly known as “Siamese fighting fish”. A deep blue and red, he is healthy, intelligent and utterly gorgeous. When he’s relaxed, he spreads his fins into a beautiful disk, hence the name “half-moon”. Why Sam? Well, he just strikes me as a Sam.

I was really excited about getting a fish and putting all my knowledge to use. I bought a tank and set up the filter and heater, conditioned the water and let it run for about a week (so that colonies of bacteria could establish in the biological media of the filter. It fills me with such joy that I can say a sentence like that an understand why it’s important). I took Sam home tonight, and I was very nervous about putting him in his new home. I checked on him every few minutes to see how he was doing. It’s quite hard to tell whether he’s stressed or happy, healthy or worn down. So far he’s spent most of his time in the bottom of the tank not moving, and I started to worry that the temperature was uncomfortable or that the moving water was distressing or that turning my room light on bothered him etc. I worried and worried and worried that I’d taken this poor, innocent creature and forced him into a life of imprisonment for my entertainment.

As a vegan, I try very hard to preserve life and minimise suffering. I’d like to think that I’m taking this fish out of the elements of the wild and providing a safe and comfortable home for him where he can live happily with all he needs. But a small part of me still wonders if he gets bored or distressed or if I’m causing him undue suffering. It’s not an easy decision for me to take the wellbeing of another creature into my hands, but I’ve decided Fuck it. He’s a beautiful companion, and I’ll care for him as best I’m able (to which end I wield considerable knowledge). Whether he’s happy or unhappy is not my decision, but whether he’s healthy or not is well within my influence. I hope to bling out the tank a little when he’s settled in (sadly, the black gravel and backing paper do little to complement his dark complexion), and it is my hope that he lives a long and happy life.

If not, I’ll probably just get a goldfish.