My life is pretty simple and consistent, most of the time. I live in a little tank on a tiny little shelf. I eat freeze-dried worms for breakfast every morning, greeting my smiling owner with a yawn and a bubble. Then I swim back and forth, flaring my gills and making myself look rather impressive, (if I may say so myself), begging for more worms even though I am already contentedly full. My owner makes a face at me (which I return, although she probably can't see it) and walks away to get dressed and ready for school. After she is dressed and packed, she blows me a kiss and waltzes out the door. This same ritual is repeated at night, getting a little food, making faces, and begging, though she gets into bed and falls asleep at the end. Then the little beta fish the girl loves so much falls asleep too. But my life wasn't always this easy. This happy.
I was born in a small clear bubble. A verytiny, little itty-bitty bubble. It popped several times, which is when my dad had to scoop me up in his mouth and place me gently in another. I never saw much of my father, but I heard one of my siblings say that he was a magnificent dark blue crown tail betta with a very large and smelly mouth. I knew about the smelly mouth part. Someone should make betta tooth brushes. Sheesh.
After a few days, I swam out of my bubble into a swarm of other tiny fish like myself. We weren't even a quarter of an inch long. No color. My father was gone at this point, never to be seen again by any of his babies. I liked my siblings at this point in my life. I would always kind of like them, but instinct would take over soon and I would occasionally want to kill them. But for now, everyone looked the same, and nobody was that aggressive. Yet.
After a few weeks, we could tell who was a boy or girl, who was prettiest, and who was going to be lucky to find a home. (As in ugly.) Finding a home was what all of us always dreamed of. My personal dream tank was 2 gallons, with a filter and a thermometer and a very small heater, which was cleaned every other week. I got a little of this when I got older, (can't complain) but I will get to that later.
After a few months, everyone’s color came in, and we were put into separate tanks, or rather, cups. If I swam in a very tight circle (which was the only type of swimming I could do in this sized area) I could distinguish that I was a very handsome pink, purple and white crown tail. The purple was a lighter version of my father's glorious blue. I was proud of my colors, but you can only display them so well in a container that size. It was cleaned out weekly (which was not nearly enough! : Many of my sisters died from dirty water. It should have been cleaned out every other day, at least...), but I did my best to continue flaring and eating. But it was very stressful. And you have to admit, between DIRTY water, constant flaring and VERY little food, I was lucky to survive. I heard from one of my sisters that only 1 third of the fish in my "batch" lived. But somehow or other, I did. I lived in that particular container for four months. I will admit, four months living in a cup may not sound that bad to some of you who think we are just stupid little fish. ‘Just deal with it’, right? Well, let me tell you, those months were long and horrendous, and I hate you if you think we can't think or have opinions or feelings about it. That is why any fish you have die. They lived in the cups they came in. So grrrrrrr.
One day, my tiny container was cleaned just 2 days after my previous cleansing. (Now that was more like it!!!) At first it was stressful: I wasn't used to clean water so often. (Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad thing: I lived in my own potty most of the time.) I thought it was a miracle, and I flared with more energy that day than I had in a while. But I was oblivious to the changes that were about to occur.
A small car with a large sign on the side that said Pet-something pulled into the garage we were staying in. I saw a tall, bearded, grimacing human scan us quickly, then hand some green paper into our owner's hand. He grinned at this. I wasn't happy about the suspicious way my brothers and sisters were handled. Hint: not carefully. Suddenly, a large, tough looking hand scooped up my container and roughly set it down in a box. I saw one of my brothers next to me, so I started trying to get his attention, signaling with all of my strength, "WHAT IS HAPPENING? I DON'T FEEL VERY WELL! HELP!!!”
After about a minute of this, I realized I wasn't the only sick one. (It is difficult to notice other things when you are panicking and worrying about yourself.) My brother, a small red crown tail with a light blue body, was floating sideways and desperately trying to right himself. I saw one of my few remaining sisters (most of them had perished at this point: this one was pretty, a pale pink on her body and light blue fins.) spinning in circles and jumping with all of her might, attempting to free herself. I cried for them and me, and then tried to sleep, but the jostling and bouncing the vehicle was making was not helping me at all. This was one of the most stressful experiences I ever had. I will never forget the looks of fear I saw in my sibling’s eyes.
After about an hour of bouncing and splashing and pleading for help, the car suddenly stopped, and the rough hand grabbed our box and set us in the back of some kind of storehouse. After all of us were assembled, a pair of soft, pale hands gently scooped us up and carried us to a kind of shelf. 5 of us were put on a shelf at a time. There were 3 rows of 7 shelves in the store. I figured that if all were filled, then out of the original 200 fish I was born with, only about 50 or so made it. (Betta's aren't good at math, you know). And that was only if the entire store was filled with crown tail bettas from my family. We were placed in clean cups again, this time with labels on the tops, telling our species and age, along with some basic tips on our housing and feeding schedule. VERY basic. I made a face at the label.
Looking out at my surroundings, I saw some food and conditioner on my left and some lovely fish tanks on my right. The tanks immediately caught my attention, and after scanning for a few moments, I spotted my dream tank. It was black with red gravel, with a filter and a very tiny heater in the back. There was even a small light and a pretty silk plant in the center. I goggled at it every minute of that stressful day. It helped keep me going, kind of an energy booster. Maybe, if I stayed alive long enough, I could get a tank like that… that was what I thought, anyway…
I was in that small little container for 2 weeks of my short little life. I was only happy when I got fed by the soft, pale hands that had carried me to the shelf. They belonged to a nice lady with short blonde hair and a sad expression. She did her best to care for us, but there were a lot of bettas to care for (I have to give her a little credit), and there was only so much 1 could do. But I know for a fact that she took home at least 4 sick or "ugly" bettas to care for. I liked her for it.
I flared every time anyone else walked by, hoping they would take me to my dream tank and home, only a few short feet away. However, the "prettier" bettas went first, while others perished right next to me. That was really depressing, seeing other small bettas fall ill and slowly die. I always worried that I would be next. Now, I thought that I was the most gorgeous fish there, of course, but the humans didn't seem to agree with me. Finally, after 2 long weeks and very few worms to eat, (2 a week!) I was cranky, hungry, and I needed a water change desperately. But I was saved, just when I thought I was doomed to spend the rest of my existence in that small cup. I was saved by an angel with brown hair and big hazel eyes wearing colors that matched mine. I l wanted her to give me a home as soon as I saw her.
When she started examining the few remaining Betta’s, I very briefly considered giving up and looking unimpressive, (Not easy in my case, but I could probably manage if I tried, considering I wasn't feeling the best) just because she did not strike me as the sort who would get me my 2 gallon tank, because she either had no money or no space. But, being me, I couldn't do that quite yet. I wanted the girl to be my owner. So, I took a deep breath, puffed myself up, and flared with all of my might at the girl. After spotting me, she picked up my cup, spun it around a few times, and carried me over to a couple of larger humans that looked similar to her. She spoke softly, and I liked her voice. "I want this one." Her mom smiled, and then led us over to the tanks to pick one out. She picked out a 1 gallon tank with an under gravel filter,a light and a lid, which also came with some food, conditioner, plant and gravel. And for some reason, I liked it better than the other tank, even though it was a little smaller and not as fancy as my dream home.
I was carried over to the "register", where I recognized the evil bearded man who roughly carried me to this horrid place. If I had been more carefully handled, I am sure that it would have been at least slightly less stressful. He glanced at me, gingerly picked me up, and put a red beam on my label. A number came up on a large red screen, and some more green paper was exchanged. I hated the bearded man, acting like he was nice and he cared about me. Humph. But then I was carried out by the girl, and I felt better. As I looked back, I saw some strange creatures huddled together on a sign that read "Pet Palace". I made a poufy face at it (Ha-ha. I just felt like doing that.), then glanced at my new owner, and knew things were going to get better. A lot better.
I was put on a long granite countertop after a short car ride. It wasn't nearly as rough as my first ride, considering I was gently held as we rode instead of rocked to and fro in a box. My new owner talked to me while she cleaned my new home. She was 13, and was worried she would make a mistake if she cleaned it out herself, but she had some medicine that she hoped would make me feel better if I got sick. She had had 2 Betta’s previously, but they got sick and died, but she would do her best to take better care of me, etc. I absorbed every word she said, even if the water distorted her voice a little. After about 15 minutes, I was placed in the tank, which I immediately started exploring and staking out. It had blue/green gravel and a green silk plant in the middle. It had more water than the tank I was born in. In fact, it was the biggest tank I had ever called home. I loved it. While examining it, I was listening to the little girl tell me her life story. I tried so hard to tell mine, flaring and blowing bubbles and swimming, attempting with all of my strength to describe the evil and stress I had been through, as well as the few nice people and fish I had met, like my blue sister or the blonde lady. I don't think she heard me, though, because whenever I did that she smiled and giggled and gave me a little food. It wasn’t a funny story.
I was so content in my tank. It was cleaned twice a month (I am a very clean fishy, you know), and I was fed twice daily. (God bless her, she knew we needed more food than the label said.) I blew bubble nests so humongous, half of the top of my tank was covered. I loved my life. Still do.
The girl, named Temperance, named me Liberty, because my "patriotic" hues reminded her of the American flag, she said. I liked it. It suited my strength and personality, I thought. I have held that title for more than 2 years now, and I am still completely healthy and happy.
I feel hopeful for my siblings sometimes, thinking that at least a majority found wonderful homes as good as mine with Temperance. I imagine my old dad, who I never really knew but still cared about, swimming around in a filtered tank with some pretty neighbors to keep him company and flare at. I think about my jumping blue sister, swimming in a tank just like mine with a little boy grinning at her and spoiling her with caves and new plants. I also thought about my blue and red brother from the car, getting a soft hearted lady to take him home and nurse him back to health. But when it comes to me, that is the end of my story. Maybe more will be added. But for now, my life is full and happy and I look forward to the next day. I am very rarely stressed anymore, and only then for a little while when my tank is cleaned, (but, if all of the sudden, you were put in a tiny bowl and had to wait there for 20 minutes before being put in your tank with an entirely different atmosphere and way cleaner rocks, you would be a little stressed too). But I always feel better afterward. I hope you enjoyed this, and thought it was time well spent. Goodnight, humans and fishes. Tank care! (Glub Glub.)
Hehe, thanks! LOL. I love writing, so I decided I wanted to write a story about one of my betta fish. I always imagine that he is a smart aleck, kinda funny, so I tried to put that in the story. :D My crowntail that the story is based on is super silly, this is exactly how I think his life went. Kinda sad, but still.