And Then There Were None…RIP MiniSeashell

It’s been a while since we checked in with the adventures of our fish. Unfortunately, our fish tank sits empty at the moment, the last of its denizens having expired Dec 1st.

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, Glimmer and MiniSeashell were together in their tank, having dispatched their tank mate Seashell3 after just a few days.

Glimmer did not have much time to enjoy life in our house. We bought him and Mini in March 2018, and Glimmer died on November 27, 2018, while we were in North Carolina (our apologies to our fish-sitter, who had to endure the trauma of finding him dead and give him the appropriate funeral). Before we’d left for North Carolina, he had taken to hanging more vertically than horizontally. Young Owner said Glimmer “wants to be a mermaid.” Unfortunately, this was the same sort of bizarre behavior the two fish that died of tumors exhibited prior to their tumors becoming obvious, so I suspect he was ill with something similar. It was not a large surprise that he expired when he did.

So that left MiniSeashell. You may remember that he was called Mini because he was not much larger than the top part of my pinkie when we bought him. I tried my hardest to get Young Owner to pick a different fish, because I was sure he would die on the ride home. He didn’t, and eventually grew to normal guppy size, even though his tail fins remained so translucent that I often had to check very closely to make sure his tail was not succumbing to the fin rot that claimed another of our fish.

Mini was an odd fish from the start. Most fish, when you drop food in the tank, swarm it like they haven’t eaten in years, and hoover it up like a vacuum. Not Mini. He apparently thought he was a shark, because he stalked his food. He would hide under the plant leaves, then dart to the top and snag a piece, pulling it under like Jaws. Alternatively, he would wait for the flakes to drop lower and lower and grab the pieces when they fell to his level. Perhaps this odd way of eating (he did this even with tank mates present) explains why he was so small in the main fish tank at the pet store. There probably wasn’t much that escaped the school and got to him.

He was also an introvert. I know, I know, guppies are social fish, they like to have a school. And all our other ones did. When we got down to a single fish, that fish would sulk, not swimming around, just hanging out, clearly distressed. Not so with Mini. He seemed to enjoy having the tank to himself, swimming around happily, coming to the front of the tank to see what we were up to, and stalking his food with no competition. We decided that as long as he was acting happy, we would not get new tank mates for him, because we were afraid that new fish might bring a disease, which is what we think killed Seashell3 when we introduced Glimmer and Mini into the tank with him.

So he lived a happy life alone in his tank. The morning of December 1st, I noticed him acting odd. When I dropped in the food, he didn’t come out of hiding to take up his usual stalking positions. I wiggle the plant he had hidden in, and he popped out for a moment, then went right back in. My heart dropped, because his bright orange scales looked dimmer to me—which often happens right before a fish expires. Later that night, we went to get the Christmas decorations down, and I went to check on him. I couldn’t find him. We ended up taking most of the plants out before we found him, dead.

Young Owner cried a lot, which surprised me, as she took most of the other fish deaths (his was #8) in stride. But she said he was special, and she loved him, and that she would watch him in the morning and it would make her late for school. And that he was the only one who understood her. So I guess MiniSeashell had meant more to her than I had thought. Still, the guppy lifespan is about 18 months, and he lived with us for 19 months, so he had a full life, and a tranquil one.

MiniSeashell in September

RIP Glimmer and Mini.

Their story is ended, but I am sure the fish saga will continue…

And Then There Were Two… RIP Seashell 3

This is getting somewhat ridiculous. I just wrote about the 2 new fish we got last Monday. All three fish—Seashell 3, Glimmer, and MiniSeashell—lived happily together. No fighting, often swimming about in a calm group. All was right with the world.

And then today Seashell died.

Of what, I don’t know. He had no marks on him from fighting or an attack. I went in to clean the tank, saw the 2 new fish swimming and asked them gaily, “Where’s Seashell?” because he was always up in front. And then my eye found his glassy one. He was indeed up in front, but upside down at the bottom of the tank.

I have to admit, it was something of a shock. After 6 dead fish, you’d think it’d be old hat. But the thing with this one is that there was no warning. Seashell 1 jumped from the tank the very first night we had him, so we weren’t attached. Sparkleshine also jumped, and although we found him alive it was clear he would not recover. Seashell 2’s tail fell off, so his demise was not a surprise. Flower and Gem both succumbed to obvious internal tumors that took a while to grow, so we were prepared. This time, though…

Just this morning, Seashell 3 had been zooming around the tank with the others, eating heartily. What happened? I usually check on the fish several times a day, but today I did not, so I can’t even narrow down when it happened. Sometime after 8 AM but before 5:15 PM is the closest I can get. I feel a bit guilty that I didn’t check on them more frequently today. Not that it would have changed anything (I mean, even if he looked sick there’d be nothing I could do), but I still feel that “what if” feeling.

So now my daughter is going to come home from a nice outing with her father to find her fish is dead. I don’t know how she will take it. The others lived with us almost a year, and were clearly ill. Seashell 3 was only with us 5 months.

Now, of course, my anxiety disorder has been roused, and I am afraid to look in the tank. Here I thought fish would be a relaxing pet…

RIP Seashell 3–a calm, good-natured fish. He put up with Gem’s ferocious attacks when we first got him, and slowly Gem came to accept him. Seashell 3 ruled the tank with his new tank mates for almost two weeks, but was never a tyrant. His sudden death was shocking, and Young Owner will miss her fish very much.

Seashell 3

Seashell 3, back in January

Fish Saga: Meet Fish 7 & 8

When last we spoke, we were saying goodbye to Gem, our longest-lived fish from the original batch. We didn’t want Seashell to get too lonely or spend too much time alone in the tank, so on Monday we went out and Young Owner got two more fish—#7 & #8. She named them Glimmer and MiniSeashell.

New fish #7


She named the more orangy one Glimmer because of the way the sun shone off his body when we were driving home. And MiniSeashell is patterned like Seashell, but he is very tiny. He is also much paler than the other two. I am worried he is sickly, but Young Owner is hopeful he is just young.

New fish #8


Seashell took to his new tank mates much better than Gem did. There has been no vicious attacking, just some flaring fins and chasing around the tank. Perhaps because there are two new fish, so he can’t focus on one. Or perhaps because he didn’t spend almost a month alone like Gem did. Or maybe Seashell was just happy to have company—he had looked a bit forlorn all alone in the tank. Much of the day I see the three swimming around rather leisurely, and the chasing seems more playful than predatory.

The New Trio (from top): Glimmer, MiniSeashell, and Seashell 3.

MiniSeashell has already given me several heart attacks when I have turned on the light to find him on the bottom of the tank. The very first morning, I couldn’t even see him breathing. Several minutes passed before I saw an eye twitch, and a few more before the other 2 fish swam down to him—and suddenly he was swimming with them! I hope he survives and thrives in our tank.

Young Owner is ecstatic about her new fish, gushing about how much she loves them. My hope is that she gets to enjoy them for a long time.*

*Seashell 3 died unexpectedly on May 30th. Cause of death unknown.

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