Aquarium Fish

A Betta Life - Chapter 5: New Neighbors

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | A Betta Life - Chapter 5: New Neighbors

By Mary Reyes
Loyola University Chicago

I spent a good while being shaken in my container. The giant creature was still holding me, but I couldn't see it very well. For a long time I felt as if I was moving; my container was shaken continuously, and that made me feel very nervous and scared. The trembling continued for a good while until it came to a sudden stop.

The giant monster removed the cover and allowed me to see my surroundings again. I saw a large body of water full of fishes like I had often seen in the place where I was before. The giant held my container up above the body of water and dumped me in there. For a moment I was shaken, and everything was a sudden confusion; many different fish that did not look like me where there and were very fast moving, passing right by me and threatening me. I swam as fast as I could to hide near a cave, one of the few places there was to hide, and I stayed there foe a good while.

I attempted to understand my situation but again like all the other times I was unable to. I would often take a look outside the cave and try to observe the different types of fish there were. Some of them swam together, some of them stayed in the bottom with a funny looking mouth; some others were way bigger than me. One thing was for sure, there was little room to hide because the body of water was full of fish; there were so many that it was almost impossible not to be close to one.

At one point I saw food floating in the surface while I was in my cave. I was very hungry and I also had to take air, so despite my fear I had to get to the surface. I swam slowly; it was very hard to swim because the current of the water was so strong that it would just push me around. Trying to swim straight was very hard and frustrating, but after a while of trying to make it to the surface I finally did. There were some few horrible flakes of food in the surface; I ate them and even though they were absolutely repulsive to my taste I had to eat them.

I sat on a leaf to take some air and rest when suddenly, I felt an attack coming from behind. Something had bitten my tail and had disappeared. When I turned around it wasn't there. I was so weak that my senses failed me. I tried to look for the attacker when suddenly I felt another attack, this time coming from the side. This time I saw a dark red tail flashing past the corner of my left eye. I turned around and there it was; it was the most terrorizing image I have ever seen. What had attacked me was another one that looked a lot like my brothers and I did, gill arches spread and in full flare, this fish was trying to kill me. With his menacing fins stretched in sign of challenge, this fish was surely telling me that I did not belong there. I did the same and flared as much as I could to try to scare him out. He ignored my warnings; he was obviously not scared of me and was ready to fight. I didn't know what to do, I was so weak and sick; my fins did not look terrorizing at all for they were very short due to the dark rim of disease that was still eating them. My opponent did not look very healthy either, but he at least had more energy than I did.

He continued to attack me. The other fishes around us didn't even seem to notice that we were fighting and just swam around us like if we were invisible. I had lost a big chunk of my tail and my back fins; I was not feeling strong enough to defeat this fish. After a while, when I was sure that I was not going to make any progress in this encounter, I began to escape and swam away from the enemy.

He chased me down for a while, but I hid inside the cave so that he could not see me. Every once in a while I looked outside the cave to try to see if he was gone but he was always going around, waiting for me to come out. I would go out for air at night, whenever he wasn't around to try to get some air. Unfortunately, whenever there was food he was always there, and I would have to go out at night to find whatever was left over.

The days went like that in that horrible place. I eventually received more surprise attacks from the evil fish whenever I had to go to the surface for air, or when I really needed to get some food. Some of the other fishes also attacked me too; the little ones came to me and nipped my fins compulsively, the big ones chased me relentlessly. At times I felt like the stress was going to kill me, and that the fear was too much to live with. My health deteriorated even more every day and I felt like I would not last much longer.

One good day, in one of those trips outside the cave to get some air at the surface, I felt my attacker coming right at me, this time he really hit me hard. He came right at me from the left and bit the middle of my body furiously. I tried to fight back but he was just too strong for me. Every single one of his attacks just weakened me even more. It seemed like everything I did to fight would just make him stronger, and like my attacks did not hurt him. At one point I began to sink, all of the energy in my body and my desire to fight for survival had just failed me.

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