Losing Pets

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Losing a much loved pet is very difficult for all of us and some of us grieve for a long time as we try to move on.  The same is not true, at least for me when I lose any of the big Koi that live in my ponds. Fish, by nature, are cold blooded things and don’t do well in the cuddle department. I know that some people do not share my views on fish but I find it hard to even come close to any form of grief when a fish dies as they are sometimes apt to do.

A couple of days ago, I lost a big white Koi which was the biggest fish I have ever had. She was one of the originals so probably close to 38 years old which is pretty good for a fish in an unprotected pond. She was well over three feet long and probably weighed close to twenty pounds. I suspected that she was  going to that big Koi pond up in the sky as she had been acting very lethargic the past few days and did not appear to be eating and sure enough, when I came out to feed them the other morning, I could see her laying on the bottom of the pond. It is my experience that these large Koi don’t float immediately and it usually takes a couple of days for them to get up off the bottom of the pond, I suppose as they start to decay and the gasses start to form.

After a real struggle on my part due to her size and weight as my net was hardly big enough,  I managed to get her out of the pond.  Close inspection did not reveal any outwardly visible signs of damage or disease so it must have been an internal problem of some sort. Anyway, dead is dead and after pulling on a pair of long sleeved rubber gloves, I carried her to the bottom of the garden and with some effort, tossed her over the fence for the vultures or other wild things to clean up. She was heavy enough that I managed to wrench the muscles in my left upper arm in the process causing me to light up the air with a few well chosen cuss words.

I have at least fifty or sixty Koi in three of the five ponds some of which are almost as large as the one we just lost. These are the second batch of Koi bought way back in 1980 following a refilling tap water incident which wiped out the original stock purchased in 1977.  I have one surviving Koi from that original 1977 group and he is definitely the oldest and is at least 41 years old but being a male, is not among the very largest ones. There are also a couple of hundred or so Goldfish in three of the ponds and it is hard to stop them from breeding especially in the ponds that are populated by Goldfish only. Koi do a good job of keeping the population down as do a couple of turtles that are in the other ponds as they eat the eggs and  young fry.

The occasional fish die off is not always a bad thing as it keeps the population manageable. I am glad though that I don’t have to make the choice  of who lives and who dies. I’ll leave that to Mother Nature…

Here come the buzzards,  Mother Nature’s cleanup crew and so the pendulum swings as it always does, in the grand scheme of things.

Written 8/9/2018


7 thoughts on “Losing Pets

  1. I’m elderly and had tropical fish as pets ever since i was in the 5th grade. I don’t ever cry when one of them dies (unlike with our dogs and birds). I have one fish, however, that is very large and intelligent, a Turquoise Severum, and i suspect when he dies — he’s many years old — i might shed a tear or two. Flower Horn Cichlids, though i’ve never had one, are even way more intelligent and can do tricks (such as barrel rolls) to entertain folks. 🙂

    • We pick and choose our pets and some are closer to us than others. For me, it has to do with warm blooded animals versus cold blooded fish. Besides, the fish don’t sleep on my bed…

  2. Interesting post, Francis. We’ve rarely gone in for pets of any kind, other than when the girls were younger and we kept a rabbit, snake, salamander and some guppies for a brief period. I think this was due in part to the fact that I didn’t want to become too emotionally attached to anything or anyone other than my own family.

    • Yes, it is usually the case that most of us warm blooded species get very attached to our pets. I have had pets all of my life and there has been a lot of grief spread over those years. And, I might add, a lot more joy…

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