I will tell you about Hatzalla.
I do not normally shop at WalMart. I prefer to support "real" grocery stores. But eh, on this fateful day I decided to see what WalMart grocerystores had. I think I needed some other things like socks, office supplies, whatever. I parked at the garden entrance because I do like plants and I gravitate towards them and animals. I noticed fish tanks. Went to look. At this time in my life we had 2 bettas in our household and I thought that was a lot. One is my daughter's, the other my son's. But I take care of them. Anyways, so I was going to breeze through the fish and dog stuff and then be on my way. Most of the fish looked fine, actually...surprisingly. All except for this one betta... This one most pitiful one... He was so pale. Absolutely no color, just pale. His head was down, laying in the gunk, his tail (what was left of it) floated upwards. His water was filthy. How long had he been here? Waiting for a human? Hungry, cold, alone, bored, hurting? Was he dead..? My heart hurt...he was alive. He stared blankly. I was shocked. I stood staring at him for a long time. I was sure he was going to die any moment. I contemplated bringing him home. I thought about what my husband would say... "look, I spent the grocery money on a dying fish!" I reluctantly left him. I fought back tears as I gathered the things on my list. I stuck to that list. I had a lump in my throat. I paid for my things and left. I cried half of the drive home. When I got home I stood by the trunk, staring at the bags of groceries and cried. DH came to help carry bags and said, "What is wrong? What happened?!" and I just bawled. I tried to tell him about the little betta I saw, choking on words, "he is going to die! So pale... So pitiful, he will die, they aren't feeding him..." He finally was able to make sense of what I was saying, somehow. He told me to go back, to get the fish. I said, "no, I can't, he is going to die. He will never make it. The poor thing!" Now, I am usually a calm person, but I was very upset. I was sure it would be better to just let him die on the shelf than to jostle his cup and stress him and he die on the car trip.
I woke up upset in the morning. I was upset all night. I couldn't get that image out of my head. As soon as my children woke, we drove back to walmart. We went in, and there he was! He looked the same. But he was alive. I was truly amazed. When I picked up his cup, he moved! He righted himself so he wasn't head down. I paid for him- a crowntail?! So he was more expensive than I was expecting. I just wanted to get him out of there. In the parking lot I put him in clean water and fed him. He ate! He could barely swim and it took effort, but he found his food and ate. His body was crooked and paperthin. His head looked huge compared to his body which was as thin as his tail. I thought I was buying him so he could at least die in clean water and have a human....but here he was eating!
Well, he made it!
He recovered amazingly well. It took a few days for his brain to really turn back on, where you could *see* that he was thinking. His body eventually straightened out. I have really enjoyed watching his crown points grow! His body has remained small, stunted, but his fins are magnificent. His color is...I do not know what color he is. He looks different in every picture. He is ferocious. He has a big black beard and I joke that he "can turn his head inside out" because he puts his gills out so far. He will flare at anything, which amuses me to no end.
He is living in a 10 gallon, right on my table in my "fishroom" as my mom calls it, a sunroom off the kitchen.
Here he is, from shrimp to betta:
A few days ago:
And a Hatzie comic:
(kinda hard to see, but I had put a little black plastic snake down in the water and that is what he was gilling.) I like to say that he is so tough he can vaporize things just by putting out his gills. Or explode things and leave a smouldering ash pile behind.
Hatzie is quite the Bubble Expert. He makes some impressive nests and guards them vigilantly.