Friday, December 21, 2007

Goldfish ER

Have mercy.

Sometimes children will just do you in.  Sometimes their pets will.  And sometimes both will.

Rachel and Abigail have goldfish.  Goldfish are hearty creatures, which gave me hope for their survival under our "protection".  Sadly, goldfish are also "dirty" fish, meaning that they befoul their water quite readily.  Couple that with one eight-year-old who doesn't care to clean the fish's bowl and we have FISH ER...major excitement in the afternoon.

I was happily filling in my family tree in the early minutes of my "computer time" this afternoon, when Abby came flying downstairs talking about the fact that Roderigo was lying on his side in his bowl, gulping at the top of the water.

Ut oh!

We pounded up the steps as I made some comment about the state of his bowl.  Then I recalled that I had poured out and replaced half of his water last night before retiring.  By that time, we'd made it upstairs and I was looking at a fish which looked as though he was breathing gasping his last.  Cruddles.

I ran into the kitchen and started to gather the items I needed to change his water (the colander, a measuring scoop for transferral, and a baggie to put him in) and hollered into the other room for the girls to "bring me that fish!"  Abby and Rachel immediately started protesting that they couldn't stand the sight of dead fish and couldn't bring RoRo in.  Sarah gallantly stepped into the breech and ran him the kitchen.

I quickly scooped him up, with absolutely no protest on his part, and put him and some of his filthy water into a baggy, as per procedure.  I then upended his bowl into the colander, rinsed it out, and filled it with water from the tap.  After adding the chemical to remove the chlorine from it, I scooped Ro back into the water.  Total time, one minute, tops.  Roderigo was still lying flat atop the water and for a moment, I didn't see him gulp, didn't see his gills move.  I was pretty sure that we'd done the intervention too late.  I kind of poked him around, hoping that he'd revive if messed with by a human hand, but it didn't do any good. 

At that point, Sarah and Rachel recalled an Animal Emergency book they'd read where a boy had revived his goldfish by guiding it through the water with a spoon until it was breathing on its own.  Then Sarah said, "Of course, that was fiction," but we decided that it was worth a shot, especially since RoRo wasn't moving at all.  She handed me a spoon and I started pushing him back and forth, back and forth through the water.  After a while, he gulped a couple of times, then more often.  He still was unable to float correctly (unassisted, he floated atop the water again) or swim at all, but at least he was gulping again.  Sarah volunteered to go to the Internet and look up the procedure for resuscitating a goldfish (I was just thankful I wouldn't have to breathe into his little fish mouth).  After a while, she came up and said that we were doing the right thing, although she added in an aside that it didn't bode well for Ro that he had been floating.

All this time, I had been stirring Roderigo around in his little bowl and I had just had it.  I suspected that part of his problem was that he didn't have enough surface area in his bowl to get enough air, particularly when his water was dirty.  So I filled up the large stockpot with coolish water and dumped Roderigo (who was protesting more) into this water.  Then I screamed and scooped him back into his little bowl.  Guess what I'd forgotten?  You got it, dechlorinating the water.  Poor Roderigo!  If fish could think, I would think that he thinks we're out to get him.

Anyway, I dechlorinated the water with a shaky hand and scooped the fish back in there.  He seemed powerless to swim against the prevailing current but at least he was in a proper fish position (ie, not lying on his side on the top of the water) and still gulping.  We put a lid on the pot (to prevent further trauma in the form of cat claws and twin paws) and set him on the back of the stove, one of the few places that Aragorn and the twins don't typically inhabit.

I used to be very good in an emergency.  I bullied my mother into getting into her car and driving to the Urgent Care when my sister (then a sweet 2-year-old) dropped a quart jar of waffle syrup on her big toe, causing it to shatter, and blood to fly everywhere.  When we have sudden trauma around here, I am usually the one to have to deal with it (ask me about the latest thing David did to his nose yesterday), although David's cutting open of his nose back in the spring pretty much laid me out flat...after we got home.  I guess I'm still pretty good in an emergency.

Even if it involves fish.

Ro in a pot


Gina said...

The same thing happened to our goldfish. We lost the first one but when it happened a few days later to the second, we looked on line. The only thing we could come up with is its swim bladder disease. We tried the pea trick but it was too late.

Leigh said...

I've never heard of such a thing. I'll have to add this tip to my overloaded brain and hope that it's retrievable the next time we have a fish on its side.