…and goodbye

The encounter with the wren was a lovely start to an otherwise sort-of-sad day. I had to say goodbye to Big Pleco. Like Topsy, he just grow’d. And grow’d…till he was nearing fifteen inches long and with a girth that would need two hands to span. My aquarium is big, but not that big. At nearly half the length of the tank, he was already finding it tight and would soon find swimming impossible. I’ve been trying to acquire a larger tank or rehome him for months, as soon as I saw which way the problem was heading, but to no avail. No-one except a few monster-fish keepers want these gorgeous creatures when they get so big, but come what may, he needed to move to bigger quarters. And I had been singularly unsuccessful in finding him anywhere to go. I had asked at all the local places and none of the fish stores could offer any help or advice.

I wasn’t even thinking about Big Plec when I wandered into the aquatic centre in High Wycombe yesterday. I was just calming my nerves after a scan at the diagnostic centre. The results were good and for some reason that left me shaky. Watching fish is soothing and the aquatic centre was just round the corner. Before the twenty-five mile drive back, a few minutes fish-dreaming seemed a good idea. On impulse, as I was leaving, I asked the young girl at the counter if she knew anyone who rehomed fish. She was most helpful and suggested a few places further south I might try. “Or,” she said, “our Aylesbury store could take him.” Now I had asked there first, being the best of the local stores, and I said so. “Oh no,” she relied, “we have a six hundred litre tank he can go in. I’m the manager of that store. I’ll let them know you’ll be bringing him.” And that was that. She gave me a fish box in which to carry him safely and I went home to arrange fish-catching with my younger son.

Now, Alex is a fish-man. A lifelong angler with a passion for all things fishy. Even so, he was daft enough to arrive in his Sunday best. When Ani had finished smothering him he took a look at the fish. He hasn’t seen Big Plec for several weeks… he’s grown again since then. “Er…how?” he said, when I’d siphoned enough water out of the tank for transport. Well, his guess was as good as mine.We tried netting him… catching him by hand…a towel… a big jug… By this time, I kid you not, the ceiling is dripping, water is runningΒ  down the walls, pooling on the floor…we are both soaked and one of the smaller fish had nipped my son’s fingers. Ani is hiding under the desk. Big Plec did not want to be caught and a fish that size can make a lot of waves. I emptied the toiletries from a soft woven basket in an echo of much older fishing methods. That worked. A final look and the lid was sealed.

I drove carefully, very carefully, to the aquatic centre ten miles away. The water barely moved. But the fish did. That was one angry fish. Great swipes of his tale reassured me all the way…he was still in one piece, but I didn’t fancy the chances of the polystyrene box for long. True to her word, the manageress had let the staff know and we were expected. Within minutes, Big Plec was being acclimatised to his new home… a tank bigger, wider, deeper than my bath tub…and the only other occupants were a handful of tiny tetra. He would love that space!

It didn’t stop me having a hard time leaving him though. The tank seems empty without his presence. I miss his eyes watching me through the glass at feeding time. It may seem silly… ‘it is only a fish’… but it isn’t. We shared a homeΒ  for a year and got to know each other’s movements. He is a fellow creature with whom I made eye contact in a wordless communication of unknown ideas… but communication nonetheless. Just like the wren, or Ani, size, species, language… it matters little. We are all creatures sharing one life under the sun, and as soon as you see the light in another creature, eye to eye, there is kinship.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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51 Responses to …and goodbye

  1. Ritu says:

    Aw sorry he’s gone Sue! Plecks are such lovely creatures! I remember we had a barb in our original inherited tank . It was HUGE! And rather vicious. Bullying any other fish. We decided to restore peace to the tank and arranged for him to go to the local fish store. He was so big for a fish of his type they couldn’t even identify which barb he was! (Apparently he ate his partner! 😢)
    When it came to catching him.our story was very similar to yours. It took hours! With wetness everywhere and a fish we didn’t know could, jumping to avoid the net it was rather comical!


  2. I know that was hard to let him go, but it was an act of love.


  3. Running Elk says:

    Geez. Thanks. Still at work, and blubbing over a fish I never knew… πŸ˜₯


  4. Marcia says:

    I’m sorry you had to say goodbye to a friend, but VERY glad you were able to find a new home for him. We have a problem with several species of armored catfish around here, because people have dumped them into our lakes and rivers, where they live quite happily, displacing native species as exotics so often do. I see them in springs all the time. This is not a good thing. But finding a new home for yours IS. And you can go visit him from time to time, if you should need a sudden plecostomus fix.

    Sorry about the battle and the dripping ceilings, though. But it was worth it in the end, yes?


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I am so grateful to have found him a good home. There are many who simply release these things into the local waterways or ponds, but they are tropical fish and will not survive in our temperatures for long.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marcia says:

        He’d survive fine in our streams and springs. But then he’d become a real environmental problem, so I’m always glad when people understand what a bad idea it is to turn these animals loose. It’s either fatal for the animal, or bad for the ecosystem, and neither of those is a good choice. You did exactly the right thing, even though it was a difficult decision. (In several ways!) Good for you, Sue!


  5. Mary Smith says:

    I’m sorry and I know you’ll miss him but it does seem the best solution. I hope you can visit from time to time. This is the third of your fish I’ve been all weepy over.


  6. It is sad that you had to rehome him, Sue, but it is wonderful that you managed to find a suitable place for him to go. It is really hard with pets, isn’t it.


  7. jenanita01 says:

    Reblogged this on anita dawes and jaye marie and commented:
    A real fishy tale…


  8. jenanita01 says:

    Just how big do they grow, and has he stopped growing?


  9. A sad, but lovely story. I am sure he will remember you. ☺☺


  10. noelleg44 says:

    He’s magnificent! I know you are going to miss him – even though he’s undoubtedly happier, he had a home with you! I’m glad you found a place with room for him – will he outgrow that tank? What a day!


  11. We kept aquarium fish, and a few Pleco’s, but never had one grow to that size. Wow. And you made eye contact ? Pretty sweet, Sue. Sorry you had to give him up.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      He would remind me when it was feeding time by staring at me too.
      I hae one other pleco… over ten years old and just two inches long. He’s lovely, but lacks the presence of Big Plec in more ways than one.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Awww! I’m sorry you had to let him go, but glad you found him a new home where he can have the space he needs to swim.


  13. Lyn Horner says:

    I’m glad you made it to the store with his temporary box still in tact. I don’t want to think about what would have happened to Big Plec if that container had broken. Sorry you had to give him up, Sue, but you “done good”.


  14. Oh my god Sue?! How do you get a sucking catfish that big? Hubby has a tank and we’ve gotten them up to four or five inches before but fifteen?! Wow! Our biggest issue is they keep wanting to breed and then we end up with heaps and heaps of little uns. Which are cute, but we can’t keep them all so like you, we have to rehome them.


  15. Widdershins says:

    May he live long and prosper … and may your ceiling soon be dry. πŸ˜€


  16. dgkaye says:

    Parting is always sorrowful, but at least there’s comfort in a new home ❀


  17. It sounds as though Big Plec had quite an adventurous day! I am sorry you had to let him go, Sue, but I am sure he will soon settle into his new home πŸ™‚


  18. When I first started reading, Sue, I thought he’d died. I’m so glad he was just rehoused. πŸ™‚ — Suzanne


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