Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In loving memory . . .

At 10:30 PM last night, I made a saddening discovery. Our guppy, Little Ryan, had passed away. Now, any of you who have made a habit of keeping fish will be saying, "So what? Guppies have a life span of, like, 3 weeks, a couple of months if you're lucky. Of course it died!" We've had Little Ryan for nearly 2 years. Even the story of his birth is a strange one. His life is a story for which I feel the need to drop the 4th wall and face reality.

Emilee had gotten 10 guppies for an experiment for her biology class (observing fishy behavior and feeding patterns in different temperatures). She made certain that they were all female - we didn't want to have a huge tank full of little guppies, especially since we really aren't supposed to have pets, including fish, where we live. The experiment involved partitioning off part of our large tank to create a seperate feeding area, which we did with a small, flexible plastic grating, with tiny holes so the water still flows through.

The guppies slowly died off, as one expects, and no emotion accompanied their passing - they were a science experiment, nothing more, and we had only had them a short time. One day, my friend Ryan went in the back room to look at the fish. From the living room, he heard him exclaim, "Hey, guys! There's a baby fish in here!" I yelled back that that was impossible. He replied, "No, I'm serious, there's a little fish in here!" I wandered in to see what he was yelling about. I found that it was true, there was one little fish which had squeezed through the grating to the other side of the tank from the rest of the fish. This was either quite lucky or quite smart of him, since guppies have a tendency to eat their young.

We named him Little Ryan after his discoverer, and fed and took care of him while the other guppies died off. Since then, he's survived numerous vacations and moving to a new apartment, showing incredible resilience to changes in his environment (when we've left him in the care of a friend) and to lack of food while we've been away over two Christmases and assorted other trips. He was smart, strong, and had a gorgeous tail. We shall not soon see his like again.

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