Sleeps with the Fishes

by jen on November 15, 2005

I have never mentioned my other pet, Punxsutawney Phil. My betta fish. I got him to be a pet for Fred & Ethel. CatTV.

Unfortunately, F&E like a little more interactive entertainment than I had anticipated, so I had to move him onto my armoire, where F&E are too fat to jump.

But even though he wasn’t serving his original purpose, I grew to love little Phil. Even liked dropping his bloodworms (ew!) into his tank every morning.

But this morning, I went to drop them in and little Phil wasn’t swimming any more. No, he was stuck at the bottom of the tank, pale and lifeless with his little fishy mouth open.

This is a little maudlin, I suppose, and I’m sorry, but I’m sad to lose my little Phil.

At least he got to see a little bit of California before he passed. Twice I drove him and F&E up to Redding to see the ‘rents. Losing half his tank of water each time. I guess I could have been a little lighter on the accelerator, but don’t you think he enjoyed a little fishy thrill?

I like to think that Phil was cursing the bastard CHP who gave me that ticket (even though I CRIED) in Colusa county. And that he had a little giggle outside of Harris Ranch when, after stopping for gas and spying a bunch of kittens near the dumpster, I left them a pile of food and somehow accidentally left the bowl on my hood, making a terrific crash as I headed onto the onramp and it flew off into I-5 oblivion.

So RIP, Phil. I’m glad I knew you.

O Whee November 16, 2005 at 4:15 am

My condolences to you on the passing of Phil. It’s amazing how something so small can bring joy to your life. I recently added a betta to my home zoo. His name is Max — Betta Max. So far my two cats and dog are not the least bit interested in Max, but I think he is cool. I love his fighting attitude. I have yet to introduce Max, who lives in the family room, to my guinea pig Cubby, who lives in the home office. You have inspired me to make the long-overdue introductions. I think I got Max to cushion the blow of what will be a time of sad goodbyes soon. Cubby is over 6 years old, which is old for a guinea pig. My oldest cat Coco (14 1/2 years old) is losing her 3-year battle with mammary cancer.

Dagny November 16, 2005 at 5:55 am

Poor Phil. I think that you should have taken him on more roadtrips. It sounds like the experience was the equivalent of going to Magic Mountain for him. At least you have the remains. My friend Shrew has several bettas. One simply disappeared from its bowl one day. We are still trying to figure out the mystery.

Gloria November 16, 2005 at 9:01 am

And that’s why I’m not getting a fish – I feel like I’d kill that faster than I’ve been killing off my herbs.

Did you flush him down the toilet?

Did you know that after “Finding Nemo” came out, so many children were flushing their fish down toilets that some warning came out saying that it really isn’t such a good idea to flush your fish down the toilet?

(And why didn’t he float to the top? I thought that’s what dead fish did.)

laurie November 16, 2005 at 10:28 am

I remember the day you bought Phil, and we carried him into Pier One as we shopped for ceramic coffee mugs. Then we left because we were scared the overwhelming Pier One smell would kill Phil.

You were a good fish, man, a good homeboy. I tip out my 40 to you, little homeyfish.

SpaceCase November 16, 2005 at 12:03 pm

I’m sorry about Phil. I’m sure my beloved beta fish, Jai, is showing Phil around Fishy Heaven and they are having a grand old time, swimming in circles, eating, puffing up when confronted with mirrors.

Neeta November 16, 2005 at 2:18 pm

I am sorry Jen. We had a goldfish named Chiranjeevi (after a South Indian film star) and he lived for several years, and admittedly we didn’t think about him much when he was around, but when he was gone he was truly missed.

Dan November 16, 2005 at 7:45 pm

It’s nice to see a celebration of life, instead of mourning the loss of it.

I do feel that phil could’ve been hairier.. but maybe that’s the groundhog in me (honest tho, I’m mostly monkey).

laurie November 16, 2005 at 11:37 pm


Someone with the site ‘’ is reading your website. i am humbled. There are not enough monkeys on the internets.

Dagny November 17, 2005 at 7:34 am

Gloria, fish usually sink before they float. I unfortunately know this from personal experience. Damn carnival fish.

jen November 17, 2005 at 10:06 am

Thanks, everyone, for your condolences!

O Whee, I hope your fur-babies make it OK!

I did end up flushing Phil. I was thinking about burying him, but the gardeners are always digging around off my patio these days. And actually, I remembered Finding Nemo and decided I would go the figurative out to sea route, so I can see why they passed that law.

SpaceCase, did you name your betta fish after a Fab 5 member, or is Jai from something else?

Gwen November 17, 2005 at 12:54 pm

Aww, RIP Phil. He lasted a lot longer than my one attempt at having a fish: Dante died the day after I got him, but not before proudly swimming in a tank on top of my graduation cap as I accepted my diploma.

ddj November 17, 2005 at 5:26 pm

RIP Phil. Now he’s off playing with the other fishies in the big tank in the sky.

I could never do fish. I had one of those tiny little tanks just big enough for one goldfish, and I always killed them within a couple of weeks. It was probably the awful water that was in my college apartment. Oh well. At least the water didn’t kill my plants.

Ethan February 12, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Yeah, I’m sorry ’bout lil’ Phil…
I have a nice little guy named Phantom, and he’s still got it!!!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: