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Josie 11-17-2012 06:00 PM

Betta Death: Circumstances Sad, Ironic and Blackly Humorous
 
First off, I know how to keep bettas. I didn't when I first started, but over the years I spent more and more time researching food, tank requirements, behavior and general health to keep these beautiful fish in top condition. I was one of those people who when I first learned about water changes was like, "You're saying I have to invest time in this fish beyond dropping food in there in the morning and at night? Screw that: I quit." Now I'm a Water-Nazi: it WILL be changed a minimum of 25%/week, or I will not keep fish.

I mention this because I don't want people coming on here screaming, "MONSTER! YOU'RE A MONSTER! YOU DIDN'T CARE FOR HIM PROPERLY AT ALL!".

Ahem.

Anyway, my betta was a little terror named Khal Drogo. For those of you familiar with Game of Thrones I'll say this: my Drogo was EXACTLY like that Drogo. My fish embodied the spirit of his namesake so accurately it was uncanny. For those of you who aren't familiar with the character, in the series Game of Thrones Khal Drogo is the leader of a vast horde of warriors, women and slaves who worship horses and kill whatever displeases them. They are violent and proud. Of his people Khal Drogo was the most violent and most proud of them all, a warrior through-and-through.

My Drogo had a jet black body and dark red fins fringed in black (when I first got him I feared this was fin rot, but I owned him for 2 years before his untimely death and gradually accepted it as his natural coloring). I kept him in a 10-gallon that he patrolled constantly, wary of "invaders" (to keep him occupied and provide him with some amusement, I would occasionally show him his reflection; when I would take it away he would try for some 20, 30 minutes to be sure he'd really scared his challenger off). In the past few months I've been wanting to try a few small, nondescript community fish that he could coexist peacefully with. Before you get all self-righteous know that not ALL betta are killers: if put with other fish that they won't mistake for their own kind, they can tolerate others nicely.

I planned and plotted for weeks: what would I get, how would I know they were adjusting, would I have to feed them separately, etc.etc. Eventually I got 3 ghost shrimp and introduced them to the tank, just to see if they would be left alone. Drogo knew they were there: he would follow silently behind them, watching, sort of wondering what in the blazes I had put in his tank. But he never attacked them, even when they got adventurous enough to swim around from time to time. I took that as a good sign: okay, he's not interested in attacking other animals, even one that could be seen as a potential food item.

So I got 3 guppies. I don't remember the type; I picked some darkly-colored ones (not the fantail type either) and let them sit in the QT tank for 2 days. At first Drogo was curious, but since they weren't in his tank he eventually grew bored. Not once did he flare at them.

After 2 days I didn't just drop them in; I'd kept the bag they came in and put them back in it. While the bag floated I watched everyone in my tank: Drogo was curious and kept bumping into the bag, but again: he didn't flare. I should mention that my Khal Drogo was a little bastard: he would flare at the cats, the TV, mirrors, pens, stuffed animals... but apparently he was cool with other fish. So I let them out early in the morning and spent that day at home, reading a book and watching them fanatically like an obsessive mother watching her kid and the neighbor's kids for the day. The tank seemed to settle down almost immediately: the guppies were cruising, exploring their new home... the shrimp retreated into their cave, wary of these new visitors (I expected them to come around eventually)... and Drogo. Drogo didn't seem to know what to make of these foreign visitors: he hung back, watching them from the safety of his favorite silk plant. When they'd swim by he would chase them away, but there was never any nipping. Just, "Get away from me you overly-cheerful freaks!"

They spent the whole day like that, forming opinions of one another. And I went to bed that night satisfied that this experiment would work out.

Khal Drogo lived up to his reputation.

The following morning I awoke to a massacre.

I first noticed the bodies floating at the surface. There were 2 of them: guppies, torn into like a tiny shark had been at them. A quick survey of the tank revealed the third, hiding in the relative safety of the rock cave. And scattered all over the bottom of the tank were pieces of ghost shrimp. Oh yes: Khal Drogo had gotten into a murder frenzy so violent he'd murdered the shrimp he'd been living peacefully with for a few weeks already. I found him in his plant, his stomach distended from having cannibalized almost every living creature in there with him, and his fins torn to shreds (acute fin rot). I immdiately scooped him out and put him in the QT tank: I could tell he was in a bad way, and if I wanted him to survive I had to start treating immediately.

As I set him up with some Betta Fix and started looking for remedies for overfeeding (I tried to treat it like constipation with some pea, but he refused to eat) I gradually reconstructed what had happened the night before.

In hindsight I'm certain he wasn't chill with his new roommates. He was just waiting for the cover of night to slaughter theml. And once that bloodlust overtook him he had to kill everything: old tankmates, new tankmates, it didn't matter. THEY NEEDED TO DIE.

Anyway, I tried my best to save him, but he was blocked up so badly he couldn't poop or eat, and that in addition to the fin rot proved too much. Days later he'd died, after I'd flushed all his tankmates (the third guppy, maimed as it was, didn't last the day).

If you didn't get the irony or why I find this funny in a twisted sort of way, let me explain. In the book series and the TV show for Game of Thrones, Khal Drogo is injured in battle during a raid on a small village, during which his people slaughter everyone (except a few likely slaves and the women: you don't want to know what happened to the women). His wounds later become infected and he dies days later (the circumstances are more nuanced for fans of the series, but that's the gist of what happened). So, yes. The name, the personality, the colors and the ultimate demise all parallel the series.

----

I'm not introducing other fish to a betta ever again. I've learned my lesson. Where I think I messed up (besides picking the wrong betta to introduce new fish to) was the order of how I put them in. Instead of introducing my betta into an established tank, I introduced new fish into a betta's established territory. I rearranged the tank before I put them in, but I guess that wasn't enough. R.I.P., my Sun-and-Stars. I'll miss you.

Phish 11-17-2012 06:33 PM

This was a good read. Sorry about your betta but that was a good read lol

Josie 11-17-2012 06:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phish
This was a good read. Sorry about your betta but that was a good read lol

Thanks. Yeah; I miss him too. He was a little jerk, but he was MY little jerk!

Josie 11-17-2012 06:38 PM

At least Khal Drogo died like a champ. Some of these bettas that people have die because of neglect. Mine went out in a blaze of glory, followed by lots of, "Yeah... probably shouldn't have done that..."

tarpon 11-17-2012 06:46 PM

One of my bettas had a very ironic death too!!! When I was little I had a betta who I named "free Willy" and we kept his bowl (I don't do bowls anymore my bettas got a 10 gallon) in the kitchen. I woke up one morning and he was gone. Years later I found out my dad found him in the garbage disposal, stuck to the side. He had jumped over the side of his bowl and into the sink, just like free Willy escaping into the ocean.

Josie 11-17-2012 06:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tarpon
One of my bettas had a very ironic death too!!! When I was little I had a betta who I named "free Willy" and we kept his bowl (I don't do bowls anymore my bettas got a 10 gallon) in the kitchen. I woke up one morning and he was gone. Years later I found out my dad found him in the garbage disposal, stuck to the side. He had jumped over the side of his bowl and into the sink, just like free Willy escaping into the ocean.

I'm so sorry for your Willy! But yeah, that's pretty awesome. XD This should become a thing: I want to hear more about people's ironic fish deaths. Like, did your sharks get eaten by another fish? Did your flying fish try to fly (can people even keep those)? Did your catfish jump out and get eaten by the dog?

ktulu909 11-17-2012 07:03 PM

I may be able to add if the mystery is every solved,but I have a clown loach whom of which vanished into thin air. I have ripped the tank apart and I mean stripped it to nothing and not a clue of a body part. Jumping unlikely,glass tops and the largest opening is less than quarter of an inch wide.Been about 2 weeks now.

Josie 11-17-2012 07:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ktulu909
I may be able to add if the mystery is every solved,but I have a clown loach whom of which vanished into thin air. I have ripped the tank apart and I mean stripped it to nothing and not a clue of a body part. Jumping unlikely,glass tops and the largest opening is less than quarter of an inch wide.Been about 2 weeks now.

It vanished? That's not very funny of your clown at all. :/

Josie 11-17-2012 07:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Josie

It vanished? That's not very funny of your clown at all. :/

[Trollface]

Kat767 11-18-2012 12:44 PM

I had two plecos jump out of their tanks and crawl across my. Floor and under a piece of furniture were they were latter found half dead.

Maxkolbe 11-18-2012 12:55 PM

I just read that with the music from lord of the rings playing on my iPod. It made it very dark and mysterious. Look up "a knife in the dark" and you know what I mean. It seriously just made betta fish creepy. Sorry about your loss. My betta is named spot so I think the only thing I have to worry about is him running away from home?

Laurie 11-18-2012 01:12 PM

Huge game of Thrones fan here. Yes...yes indeed I do get the irony and parallel of your Drogo and the Drogo from the books/series. Bless his heart and of those whom he slaughtered in his bloodlust.

I have a betta in a 10 gallon also and was considering added some peaceful fish. Thank you for the warning! LOL

Maxkolbe 11-18-2012 01:15 PM

I do know it can be done but it depends on the betta. Some kill everything and some like mine are peaceful. He has been living with a school of ember tetras for probably 6 months. I guess the real lesson here is to be careful what you name your fish. I personally am going to avoid the names of people who went on murder sprees or committed suicide.

hcourts 11-18-2012 01:25 PM

I'm so sorry to hear about your guy:( I will have to say that this was an awsome read though!! I have a murder like your guy and he has the smaller section of a divided 20g. He has murdered everything...at least your guy went out in a blaze of glory:( may he rest in peace...

clearancepuppy 11-18-2012 01:41 PM

What a ride! Not familiar with GOT but can see the irony. I'm telling you... you should have a blog we can follow.

Ursi 11-19-2012 09:35 AM

This really made me chuckle, sorry about your losses, but brilliant!

twoodrough 11-19-2012 10:06 AM

My betta is Strawberry (as in Strawberry Shortcake), named by my 4 year old daughter. He is red and beautiful, but I shortened the name for the sake of the male fish. He is happy in his 10 gallon and I will never try to add anything to him. I tried a couple times with other bettas and it never worked well.

Also, I had a wood shrimp once that just disappeared. Never found him. The best we can figure is he got out of the tank and the dog ate him. I was 0 for 2 on wood shrimp and will never do them again.

Josie 11-19-2012 10:10 AM

Thanks everyone for your love and attention; I like the suggestion about writing a blog, but I'm not quite that full of myself. Yet. Maybe a few more comments will pump up my ego! *Hint Hint Nudge Nudge*

Yeah: I will not name future betta for violent people or people who've commited suicide. From now on they shall be fluffy, froo-froo names like Rarity or Elmo. I don't know: I think it'd be cute to name a purple betta Rarity (MLP:FiM fiend over here) or a cherry red betta Elmo.

You know what would be really messed up? Find a purple/red/green one (or any mix of those colors) and name him the Joker. Just watch him stare at you from his little tank. "You wanna' know how I got these scars?"

O_O No Mr. Fishy, I really don't.

I might also name one Scarface. If any of you use that name just... Don't use white sand, okay?

Coco1019 11-19-2012 03:42 PM

Sorry about your fish, but that was a funny read.

Lardeelion 11-19-2012 04:06 PM

Uh-oh. My betta's name is Rhaegar...


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