Elizabeth's mystery illness was strep. She didn't have a rash; she didn't have a sore throat; all she had was day after day of fever and misery. I was a little crazy-eyed from worry and compromised sleep, and I think the pediatrician only did the strep test as an excuse to leave the room for a few minutes.
There was a suspect in the Snail Mystery reported earlier this week: a mosquito fish, brought home by William after a school project. This little fish, as I discovered when I looked it up online to see if it could go in the aquarium with our other fish, is a bit of a super-breeding menace/pest. But I thought with just one, it would be fine in our aquarium and would be unlikely to cause a population issue. Plus, what else to do with it, now that it had been brought home? But I noticed it seemed to keep NIPPING at the other fish. Nip. Nip. Nip. The other fish were skittish and kept clenching their fins and darting away. The snail would flinch and tuck in its feelers.
When the snail's empty shell was discovered, I came to the conclusion that the most likely explanation was that the mosquito fish's constant nipping had finally driven the snail to run away from home to get a little peace. I can identify.
As the afternoon of the empty-shell discovery progressed, I noticed the mosquito fish seemed even more aggressive---as if encouraged by its recent success at driving away the snail. As if it had developed a TASTE, as it were, for causing other fish to run away from home.
I determined that this could not go on. I did my research. Did you know it is surprisingly complicated to euthanize a Problem Fish? This must put fishing boats to a great deal of shame, since they let tens of thousands of fish flop in the air on deck, rather than following complicated and no-kidding-SURGICAL options required for individual house-based fish.
Still, I was not going to let the fish die uncomfortably, even if this fish may have caused great discomfort to others. Most likely it has not given its heart over to evil, but is just being a fish.
I found a method I could imagine using, and readied my equipment. A plastic container I didn't mind throwing out if necessary, filled with ice water. A plastic baggie, containing a scoop of familiar water from the fish's own aquarium, to submerge in the ice water at the proper time. A little spade, for digging a proper grave after the deed was done.
I got the large disposable plastic cup I use for various aquarium-maintenance tasks, and I opened the lid of the aquarium. The fish all came to the top, expecting to be fed. I deftly scooped out the suspect and brought him to the kitchen where I had set up the execution chamber.
As I fussed with my supplies, the fish flipped. He flipped himself six inches out of the cup, into the air, onto the counter. As I looked on, a little scream rising in my throat but frozen there (The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix going through my mind), he flipped again, into the sink, where there was a large pile of melting cubes of coffee creamer from a failed experiment.
I felt the need to act decisively, but I am not a quick thinker by nature and prefer to have more time to fuss with supplies and wrestle with issues. Overcoming those obstacles of temperament and hoping I would not regret that override, I turned on the in-sink disposal. And very quickly and mercifully, the fish knew no more.
Evaluating the incident afterward, I feel it went about as well as it could have. I don't know how a fish would feel about it, but I myself would prefer the fast "not even knowing what hit it" death of the in-sink disposal over the slow, opposite-of-boiling-the-frog method of having my body temperature lowered until I went into a coma and died. I prefer the former method even more strongly if the latter method is going to involve being scooped by a fumbling, grossed-out human hand out of a pile of frozen coffee creamer.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...