Just die already

My fish is on his last fin and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Last year Harrison got one of those little red fish that can’t have any friends for his birthday. You know the kind, a great excuse to only have one fish and not twelve. He named him Indie, I set him up by my kitchen sink, and he has become the best pet ever.

This is a shocker, since I’m totally not a fish/reptile person. I like things that are warm and soft, not cold and wet. But I’m telling you, this fish has personality. You should see how happy he gets when I do dishes once a week.

A few weeks ago Indie started ignoring his fish food. Not all the time, but enough to make Mama wonder if her little red man was feeling ill. When Jason got home from his big trip, he cleaned the tank and refitted the fish with his favorite pet shark statue. But it’s been all underwater from there.

At the moment, Indie is floating on his side right up at the water line. He’s been in this position for the last four days. At first I tried to play it off with Jason as his new trick, “Play dead, Indie!”. But since he kind of never comes out of it, I’m starting to think he’s in serious trouble.

I even ran to Walmart yesterday and bought a gallon of distilled water, just in case something from my faucet was killing him. No luck. He’s as near dead as ever. But every time I pick up the phone to call the priest, I tap the tank and he waves a little reluctant fin at me, letting me know that it’s not time for the toilet, not yet.

What do I do? This is the first time I’ve been faced with offering a family member euthanization, I’m new to this principle. It kind of goes against everything I believe, yet he looks so sad and miserable and comotose that I can’t stand it anymore. Jason and I are both avoiding the dishes because who wants to stand at the sink and watch your fish try to die?

Okay, I need to go practice my musical number for the funeral. We should have a funeral, right?


  1. Do you remember the episode of the Cosby show where they had a funeral for the fish?

    WHen I was kid, I had two beloved goldfish. My toddler brother got hold of a tube of Desitin and coated the inside of their bowl. That dispatched them fairly quickly. If you have any handy you might think of it as mercy killing for fish. I assume there’s no living will?

  2. We have had several fish deaths at our work. We just flush them.

  3. You’ve seen Finding Nemo, right? Well, “All drains lead to the ocean!” It’s time to set the poor guy free… “Swim down!”

  4. When I was first married and our two ugly fish died I was shocked when Husband fell face first onto our mattress and cried. I was going, “Eeeeew, flush them, eeeewwwww….” until I realized he was serious. Then I patted his back a little. And then we buried them in the backyard. One of their names was ‘Mr. Pants’ and they liked to eat little fishies and chicken. (Feeding a fish chicken? Possibly why they died.)

  5. When my daughter’s first fish died we sang the Titanic song at his flushing. It was very touching:)

  6. WOW! When we gave Harrison that fish last year I thought you were going to kill me! I’m glad he’s become a friendly fixture at your sink. Have you considered the idea of buying one that looks just like him and trying to fool Harrison that Indie is “all better?” If you don’t want to go on the “deception route,” I think that it would be a good idea to have a funeral, as in bury him outside. Have Jason recount to you the story of us burying Bosco the hamster, who died alone in our basement when we were kids after 2 years. I think animal funerals are great, especially for hitting home to kids the idea about the plan of salvation.

    By the way, I love that you used “Indie” as a password and totally forgot that you did! I know that story is several months old, but it still makes me smile!

  7. I really believe that Indie wants to be set free, to frolic in that great tank in the sky. So I recommend the Kevorkian method, which includes but is not limited to your Pampered Chef uber chopper and gits-em-all rubber spatula. Of course, this means a closed-matchbox service. We want to spare the fish some dignity, after all.

    Possible musical numbers:
    “Drop-kick me, Nemo, through the fake fern of life”
    “Amazing Plaice”
    “Belly up to the bar, boys”
    “Open those pearly gates, Saint Pete, I want in for the halibut”

    And of course, everyone’s favorite:
    “Cod Be With You, Til We Eat Again”

    Clearly, I’m there for you, Annie.

    • annie valentine says:

      Wow DeNae, your sensitivity both overwhelms and alarms me. Very inspirational.

  8. Nice excuse to not do the dishes Anne. I’m being serious. It works. Poor little Indie.

  9. Its always been my understanding that having a pet fish is only so a person can learn about death. Poor little guy.

  10. I can totally sympathize. I have two fish on my desk and work is and if one of them stops moving I panic. I would cry if they died. They truly are my friends. That reminds me, have I fed them today?

    I think you should give the fish a blessing a pray for the best. Maybe he’ll pull through and you’ll be glad you didn’t flush him yet.

    P.S. Totally joking about the blessing, I’m not a psycho.

  11. When it was time for Brody’s fish to go, go, go away (due to a very stinky bowl that we were both tired of cleaning-not his own demise). I moved him from his treasured place next to our sink into the laundry room. This accomplished two things, stinky bowl out of our kitchen and fish out of sight. After a few days of swimming around in the dark of the laundry room, Brody totally dismissed the fish. Out of sight, out of mind. Gradually little “Lightening” made it out to the garage and then good-bye forever!

    Two years later, Brody asked where his fish was. It took him that long to realize the thing was actually gone.

  12. We have 1 rabbit, 2 hamsters, and 3 guinea pigs buried in our garden. They all had real funerals, the whole works. Actually, after one of the hamsters died we even had a wake for him. We can never move house though because we would be leaving family behind. I say flush him down the loo with a proper send off. Sing songs, have a good cry and then a party to celebrate his life.

  13. Bwahahahaha… dang Kristina beat me to it. We flush them down though with toilet paper and we light a match and then blow it out… some kind of ancient Indian ritual to keep the fish’s spirit with him… (don’t quote me on that-I could be totally making that up)

  14. I guess this wouldn’t be the time to tell you about the last fish we had. Although “Gil” was in perfect health, I should have never been the one to clean out his tank. Somehow he slipped through my netted fingers or whatever the crap I was using at the time and went right down into the disposal drain of the kitchen sink.

    A flip of the garbarge disposal and no funeral was necessary.

    True story.

    Condolences on the loss of Indie

  15. Hahahahahahaha! I laughed for about twenty minutes over this.

    (OK, maybe one. But still. That’s a long time.)

    Dead/dying fish are gross. We had a goldfish for a few short days. It died and I couldn’t bring myself to fish it out – it was just so creepy and disgusting.

    I made my eight year old do it. I’m probably going to hell.

  16. This whole post made me laugh and laugh! Thanks!

  17. Oh that was so funny —oh WAIT, not funny. That would be rude, a family member is dieing. That can’t be funny.
    Wha ha ha ha ————
    Give the toilet a good pine sol scrubbing —the kind that actually smells like PINE then when it is time to enter that big toilet bowl in the sky, he’ll be glad you prepared the bowl so well. then as you scrub that said casket, it’ll bubble up and that should be pretty —right.

    Maybe Indie doesn’t want PINE smell. More like try to find something like sea weed. Yeah, more like that.

  18. Both Kristina and DeNae’s comments had me in stitches. Cod be with you… Ha ha ha!

    As for the fish dilemma, he’ll be on the outs soon enough. I recommend a toilet side service. You don’t want neighbor kitties pulling a pet cemetary on Indie.

  19. Our betta did this for a year. In hindsight, I wished I’d put it out of its misery a little sooner.

  20. I might have flushed just a kind of sick fish down the toilet when we had to move last year because I just didn’t feel like dealing with it. And I asked my cleaning lady to do it.

    I am pretty sure I am going to hell for that, right?

  21. A couple of months ago, I was cleaning out the fish bowl (we also have a lovely betta with a shark statue). While I was moving him to a cup for his bowl cleaning, my fish decided to jump into the rubber drain cover in my kitchen sink. When I tried to pick him up (sick, by the way), he jumped to his death on the garbage disposal blade. Over an hour later, I was still trying to get him out of the drain (I couldn’t flood him out, I couldn’t pick him up because he would move every time I touched him, etc). It was horrible. I was 8 months pregnant and thanks to the hormones, I kept revolving between crying for him that he was dying/dead and being angry at the stupid fish for jumping. I finally got him out and he was somehow alive, but looked horrible.

    We went to the pet store and revived him with sea salt and some other drops for his fish bowl. He looks much better and is back to his old self again… but now, I just want him to die. Fishing out (ha -pun) my pet was way too traumatic. Now, my husband is the exclusive care-taker and fish-bowl-cleaner at our house. So – you can make him better with stuff from the pet store or just hope he goes soon…

    • annie valentine says:

      That is the best fish story ever. I’m kind of relieved the deed was done (three days ago) before you told me about the fish drops, I think I would have felt obligated to the little guy.

  22. Everything I know about jellyfish comes from Finding Nemo, I told Little Man when I flushed the now dead jelly fish I was sending them back to the ocean. I like the other people who remember important life facts from Disney movies!

  23. For some inexpressible reason, this reminds me of the time my 7th grade teacher’s tank of 5 fish began to vanish. After a few days there were only 4…a few days later…3. This kept going on until only one fish was left who was much bigger than he had been before.

    Two days later he died.