Monday, September 25, 2006


Birthdays are traditionally marked with a celebration replete with cake and candles to mark the number of years we’ve been on this planet. What about pet fish?

Chances are right now you're wondering why anyone would or should care about whether or not fish birthdays should be recognized. The answer to that is: why not? It's not any more unusual than dog owners throwing a party for the pooch in their lives at upscale restaurants. A party for fish understandably, has more limitations.

Take Bubba, a Queensland grouper donated to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago was believed to be the first fish to undergo chermotherapy. According to Wikipedia, Bubba, a female was donated to the aquariumin 1987 by an anonymous donor. However, Bubba being a protegynous hermaphrodite and all and perhaps bored being a female, decided to switch her gender in the mid 1990's. As a male Bubba grew to a substantial 154 pounds. A cancerous growth was discovered on her/his/Bubba's head in 2001 and the fish stayed cancer-free until 2003 when the growth returned. The fish died in 2006 due to health related problems and old age. One wonders - okay me - if anyone threw Bubba a birthday party.

Tropical fish and all fish in general should be able to celebrate their birthdays. The only issue marring this “liquid-asset” party is to determine when they were born. Fish as a rule don’t come equipped with birth certificates informing care-givers when and where they were spawned. Maybe “spawn-ers” should supply pet shops with pedi-fish papers as is the case with other pet breeds.

“This is to certify that 1 (one) black tetra was born in a river at some time in the Rio del Plata, and has hundreds of brothers and sisters who might have been hatched at the same time.”

Fish ownership can be personalized by giving them names but mistakes are sure to occur since fish seldom…rarely…never… respond when called. They do, however, rise to the occasion when they sense food is about to be served.

Speaking of food this is another problem when celebrating a truly piscatorial birthday. Traditional birthday cake and ice cream is out of the question. An extra serving of fish food for the watery gala can be a disaster and the celebrants could end up doing the side or back stroke.
The most logical solution is to acknowledge their existence by throwing a party on New Year’s Day, which marks the passing of another year. Even then how does one know how long they lived among their kind in the pet shop? Owners could be celebrating a first birthday when reality they could be seniors! Fish don’t get wrinkles or gray hair indicating they have reached the senior stage of their lives. Even then the cause of death is pure speculation since fish autopsies aren’t performed as a rule. Make that never.

So I’m thinking about throwing a birthday bash for Fric and Frac, a couple of angel fish that I know and their fellow aquarium residents. It will be a small affair with just their immediate friends. That is if they live long enough.

Writers & Friends

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