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Adventures in Fish Care

We have an aquarium full of fish. We can't have what some folks might call a real pet because of allergies, so we have fish. And as such, we do try to take care of our fish (unlike many dog and cat owners). Read on if you want to hear all about our near-disaster and why I didn't post my planned links and such last night...

Last night was going to be our monthly cleaning of our tank. We have a piece of driftwood in our tank in out tank. It's a decent size piece, as we have a 55 gallon tank, and the smaller fish in the tank like to swim through it and the sucker fish usually just hangs out on it or under it.

Our rope fish, however, generally stays away from the thing as at 18 inches long, he's too big to do anything around the piece of wood, and the little holes in the log are too small for him to get through like the smaller fish can. But last night, the stress of us getting ready to clean the tank made him go a little nutty, and he decided to go for one of those holes. He managed to get himself about a third of the way into the hole, and then was stuck. I gave him a minute to see if he could escape himself, but the more he struggled the more he got wedged in there. We knew we had to get him out of there, as he was starting to scratch up his skins with his struggling. I tried to gently pull the fish out with my hands, but he took offense to that and spiked me with his tail (I always forget about that little spike on their tail as you never know about it until they get defensive). He wasn't going to be pulled out of that piece of wood, and we couldn't leave him there as he would probably die.

Rope fish can survive for quite a while out of the water (they'll try to escape from your tank if it's not sealed up), so we knew we'd be OK if we took the log out and worked on cutting the log in half -- our only option at this point -- and removing him. Naturally, he didn't want to hold still, so it just made it worse for him. The only saw we hand in the house was a hacksaw, and cutting through wet wood with a hacksaw isn't that easy (having a Dremel right then would've been very handy) so we slowly worked on cutting away the piece of wood that was holding him in, being careful not to cut him. After about 20 minutes of sawing (with periodic dips for the fish back into the tank), we finally got the thing free, he flopped around on our floor for a second, we netted him and put him back in the tank (we didn't bother cleaning the tank at this point, as that would've had stressed him out even more).

This was about 10:30 last night when we finally got him free back into the tank, and his scales were pretty trashed where he was wedged. We called our fish expert friend who originally gave us this fish many years ago (it was her's for years before that, so it's a pretty old fish) and she said we needed to get some stress coat slime into the tank as soon as possible. Naturally, the bottle of stuff we had was basically empty and not enough to treat our entire tank. Obviously, the local PetCo and PetSmart aren't going to be open until morning, so I had to run to everybody's favorite evil corporation and get some slime coat there (it would've been nicer if I could've driven to a closer one, but I doubt that thing will ever get built). Got the tank treated, and went to bed around midnight.

This morning, the fish appears to still be alive (which I doubt he would've been had we not slime coated last night). His scales are pretty trashed, so I'm hoping he heals up -- I know my kids will be disappointed, too, as they were when our first rope fish died of old age, as they've basically both grown up with that fish. We've cycled through other cheap disposable fish in that tank, but that rope fish has always been there.

I'll keep this updated on the fish's status, as I don't we'll be able to buy another one of these any time soon.

Update on 3/14: We had to kill it.

Posted by Jake on 03/07/06 @ 07:48 AM
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We Had To Kill It from UtterlyBoring.com on 03/14/06 @ 12:22 PM:
Remember that fish we were trying to treat? We had to kill it. The infection was getting worse, our treatments weren't working, he couldn't swim very well, and we couldn't... (Read More)

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