Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

Real Life | 16 August 2008

Fat fish trouble

My clownfish is clinically obese and agoraphobic. He has been refusing to come out of his bamboo log for three years now, except occasionally to poke his whiskered nose out of the end to snaffle food. I hadn’t seen the whole of him in all this time until it occurred to me the other day that perhaps he couldn’t come out because he was stuck.

This has happened to me before. I had an angelfish who took to his bed and eventually had to be mechanically extracted like the subject of an ITV documentary on fat people. I had to go to Travis Perkins and hire a saw. ‘Will this cut through a polyresin bamboo-effect aquarium log under water,’ I asked the youth in overalls. ‘It will, yeah,’ he said, far too quickly. It took three of us two hours to perform the rescue operation and the saw was remarkable only in that it actually bounced off the rock hard polyresin. We did our best but the angelfish went on to become an angelfish in the sky, or rather down the loo.

So I was relieved to find that this time when I reached into the tank and shook the log the clownfish shot straight out. Though housebound, he was not entirely stuck, but he did have a deep graze on his head where he had grown too big for his hidey-hole. His partner, a much smaller and more well adjusted clownfish was delighted to see him out and about. But the fat fish looked panic-stricken.  

I stared into the tank and pondered the ethical question of what my responsibilities were to a fish. It was going to be an enormous faff to find a larger log than the one I had just taken out of the tank.

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