To our delight, we’ve recently discovered that our Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens if you’re into the scientific name, and Prince, for those of you who want to know what he really goes by) much prefers the light to the darkness. Now that's our kind of fish!
We discovered this when we took the greenery off the top of his bowl and he perked up—because could see more light, we believe. We had feared for his soul before that. He seemed a sad little guy, barely moving, nor coming much to the top to eat. We could not imagine that, of all things, we had chosen a fish predisposed to pout.
However, we discovered in our research about his kind that he is a labyrinth fish, which has an organ on its head that allows him to breathe oxygen from air. He often comes to the surface, so we believe giving him more space to do this was beneficial for many reasons.
Regardless, we love him just the way God created him. We tell him that often. And we tell him that just because he has to wait till Victoria, now 11, eats first, that doesn’t mean we love him less. (He knows when she eats because he’s on the shelf right behind her seat at the table) So, that understanding gives him more light. (We hope.)
We give our fish lots of other light, too. We have, successfully, we think, helped him to see that, just because an object that we hold up to his tank seems bigger than him, there is no reason to feel threatened and thrust out his fins to try to appear bigger (Besides their long, flowing tails, one of the hallmarks of a Siamese Fighting Fish is their tendency to, well, fight. But we believe that retraining with enlightenment can help him overcome that.).
In addition, we have explained to him that, lest he feel over adventurous and choose to leap from his watery home, that even though he can breathe air for a bit, the darkness of rigor mortis would soon set in and there would be no more light. So far, he seems convinced that we are right.
We have also told him repeatedly (repetition’s how we learn; repetition’s how we learn…) that, just as our awesome God created and loves each one of us and takes care of us even if we don’t respond to Him (Amazing. How awesome and gracious is our dear Father God!), God chose us to love Prince out of all the billions of the fish in the world, and take care of him, with or without response or thanksgiving.
We love the little thing, and we can't really explain it except to say that it's God Who is Love in us Who causes us to care for him.
So being the lights that we are, we allow him to be in the family room and kitchen with us, and we know that surely is helping him. For instance, he sees Victoria read her Bible every morning as she eats breakfast, and he hears her ask questions about God, Who is Light. He also hears her pray.
The royal fish is also becoming enlightened in other ways. For instance, he now knows many fascinating facts about the sun, the eight planets, and Pluto (Pluto, Pluto, wherefore art thou now a demoted dwarf, Pluto?). This is thanks to Victoria who, using her brightly colored mobile created for fourth grade, took the time to explain how Elohim Who is God created the Solar System—and everything else, including Prince himself.
Our fish hasn’t changed his expression during any of her teaching, but we know that captive audiences usually absorb more than it may seem. After all, one cannot tell by appearances.
At least we can’t.
In teaching, Victoria and I have also been taught: When we saw Prince looking much less energetic and couldn’t imagine what was going on with him (surely not ennui!), we took the advice of the pet store owner and took out the plastic plant that he had loved to hide in. With his beloved plant gone, we discovered that he sits on the rocks like a dog!
That’s right—our little Siamese Fighting Fish, royal name and all,—sits on his tail, head pointed toward the top of the tank. We once heard of a friend’s horse sitting on its tail on its haunches on their porch, but this puzzled us—especially since we’ve never had a dog in the house, nor the fish outside to see a dog—so we consulted the pet store owner again.
We were relieved to hear that this is normal behavior for such fish (more proof that God has quite a sense of humor!), but that he might do better in a “little floating log.”
Besides admiring the creativity and ingenuity of someone who devised such a thoughtful gift for a fish, we discovered that, not only does Prince adore his new log, because it gives him a new place to hide and be closer to the top--but that he still, even several inches higher up, sits like a dog. At least it makes him closer to the light.
Recently, Prince has also received instruction, or light, about the denominations--not of the church, although as Victoria learns them, he may be so instructed. Instead, she has taught him about dollars, quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies, and why they all spend differently.She also taught him that, should he ever need to choose among denominations, it is always best to start with dollars, and the higher the numbers, the better.
So since the lid came off and he can see the light, we have discovered not only that our fish has personality, but that he gets excited and actually wiggles when we approach. That’s right; our fish wiggles! (Remember, we haven’t had a dog for him to see, and he doesn’t watch TV. And this wiggling did not occur until we put more light into his life.)
We like to think he greets us puppy-style because of our excellent spirits and not just because the potential that he might be fed. In fact, we are almost sure that this is the case, because there have been many times that Victoria has approached the bowl and Prince has wiggled happily, even though he did not get fed the previous time. Either he has an extremely short memory, or he loves her anyway. Maybe both.
Perhaps he is rejoicing at the potential of us bringing him a wife, although Victoria has suggested to him that he does not need to be married.
After weeks of skimming bubbles off the top of his bowl, and thinking they were filled with loads of ammonia or other fish-killing substances, (because of the tragedy of us losing two adorable tiny goldfish a couple weeks B.P. (Before Prince)), we learned differently.
According to our faithful friend at the pet store, our fish was busy preparing for his beloved, making a covering of bubbles for his bride, just in case she would need a place to hide her eggs. We are sure this comes in very handy in the rice paddies from whence he came1, but it seems a nuisance in the spacious bowl in which he lives at our house.
Recently, Victoria decided to take out the log and put in a hollow multi-colored “mountain” in which Prince could hide. Instead of topping the mountain, which is what we’d hoped he would do, our fish usually reclines, doggy-like, at the bottom of it. Perhaps we need to be more inspiring to help him know that no mountain is too high.
Alas, he keeps making bubbles and we keep skimming them off. But he hasn’t complained; he just keeps on doing it. And, who knows? His faith and persistence may pay off. I’m actually thinking about getting him married now, so there is (potential) light at the end of his tunnel.
He will have to have his territories expanded for that, however.
We’ll let you know.
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