The goldfish Rainbow is doing poorly. Rainbow is our last surviving pet. Kiah the cat passed on this winter, a victim of polycystic kidney disease. We got a lovely note from the vet staff on his passing. I am continually amazed at the kindness of vets.
Rainbow and her (his?) sister (brother?) Rosie (I'm not a goldfish sexer) were county fair goldfish. You know, the ones you win by tossing a ping-pong ball into a glass? I hate those games. Those poor fish sitting around all day in the hot sun, cooped up in tiny plastic bags. Ninety percent of the fish taken home don't make it through the next day.
Rosie and Rainbow both beat the odds. We upgraded them to a spacious 10 gallon fishy condo with neon pink gravel, plants, a heater, a oxygenating fountain, and a light. The tank is tastefully bare. I really wanted to get one of those fake treasure chests that blows bubbles when it opens. I was overruled. Brewguy changed the water and the Little Brewers fed them. So much and no more, never more than a spot. By all accounts, Rosie and Rainbow loved their new home. They chewed the plants to oblivion, chased each other around the tank, and gazed at us through the glass as we gazed at them.
Rosie died a few months ago. Quite suddenly. S/he was found floating upside down in the morning and was buried in the garden next to the hosta. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Rainbow started swimming sideways. "Uh oh," I thought to myself. "This can't be good." Rainbow was spending more and more time at the top of the tank, on her* side, as though she was stuck to the surface. Uneaten food began to drift around the bottom (I've never known a goldfish to leave food lying around so I took this as a bad sign). When we would walk past she would flip away as if startled, but eventually she would float back to the top.
We all came to grips with the seemingly unassailable fact that Rainbow was about to pass on, said our goodbyes, and left for the beach, fully intending to find an ex-fish when we returned. That was a week ago. Rainbow is still with us. She is spending less time on her side, although there is still quite a bit of side-hanging going on.
Here is the dilemma: what do we do? Will Rainbow recover or is this just the long road to the end? Is the fish suffering in its current state? (Not to sound heartless, but I am not going to take a county fair goldfish to the vet. That money goes to the college fund. I'm already hyperventilating over the projected cost.)
So we are playing the waiting game. The water is changed, the fish is fed, and we gaze at each other through the glass. And every morning we say to each other, "I'm not dead yet."
*Little Brewer #1 insists Rainbow is a girl, so I'm going with it.