jade plant, betta fish

Goodbye Mr. T (Betta Fish)

The day was April 14, 2012. Kelly was super excited about stocking her new aquarium with colorful fish so we were browsing the aquariums at the local PetSmart. Her enthusiasm must have been infectious because later that evening I came back to the house with a red betta fish inside a cup-sized plastic container with little holes punched in his lid. I soon transferred him to a large flower vase and dubbed him Mr. T, short for Beta Test the Betta Fish. I thought his name would be appropriate as this would be the first fish I had ever owned and he, indeed, was something of a trial—a beta test.

It is ironic, then, that Kelly’s fish lasted no more than a week while Mr. T lived to be about three years old (maybe four, as pet shops often sell betta fish a year old). He passed away yesterday, or maybe the day before which is when I last fed him and he was still kicking. I have to clean up and vacuum up the all the mess done.

His health had noticeably deteriorated over the last month, but this was to be expected since he was quite elderly for a betta. Each passing year I would marvel at how he was still “somehow” alive.

For the most part, he lived in safety, but he did have a few threats. E.g., on Day #3 at Chez Felix, he was terrorized by Oreo the cat:

black and white cat, cat head, fish bowl, red betta fish

Shortly after the above photo, Oreo actually knocked over the flower vase off the computer monitor shelf while I was on the phone, and a minor panic ensued. This is because for five whole minutes, Mr. T was lost! I searched all over the desk, the computer keyboard, and the floor, but he was nowhere to be found.

It turned out that he miraculously fell into this mug, along with water, that was 50% full with pens. Despite the limited space in there, he was unharmed.

custom painted mug of Pittsburgh
The mug I painted in Pittsburgh (and of Pittsburgh), probably around August 1999.

The next major crisis came during the furnace fiasco, in which the furnace was out during the weekend and the house got down to 47 degrees. Betta fish, being cold blooded, need to live in an environment closer to 65-70.

Mr. T, being the tough little guy he was, survived that frigid weekend by going camping behind the high-powered, heat-emitting workstation computer.

betta fish warmed by computer

The rest of the time—especially after the first crisis caused by cat Oreo—he remained safely in one of two bathrooms: either the master bathroom or, in his last 1.5 years of life, the guest bathroom. During brief vacations away, people such as my buddy Tim (shown below) or my catsitter Shelbi looked after him. When I was in Europe for five weeks, a couple who housesat for me kept him fed and happy.

Tim Vail with red betta fish
My buddy Tim took care of Mr. T next door for a few days while I was on vacation.

After he passed away, I gave him a proper burial in the backyard. He has his own little spot next to the garden plot, and I intend to make him a gravestone placard later this year to memorialize him.

He was a good little fishie. Rest in peace, Mr. T.

jade plant, betta fish
Mr. T in the guest bathroom by a jade plant that my friend Ryan N. (a.k.a Alberto Fran̤ois) gave me.
old betta fish
Mr. T had really slowed down in his final month, but he was still kicking as shown in this photo two weeks before his passing.
betta fish buried in back yard
Mr. T in his final resting spot in the back yard next to the garden plot. He was a good little fishie. RIP Mr. T.