Thursday, December 6, 2012

How not to kill a fish

A little over a year ago in September of 2011, my hubs bought me a betta fish. I named him Finney. He was my first betta, so I asked the pet store person for advice.

"Don't overfeed him! Only one pellet of food a day. And skip a day a week! They can go a long time without food."

She said this rather forcefully. I don't know about you, but when a person speaks with a strong conviction, I tend to second guess myself. I tend to think they are right, and I am wrong.

I'd read up on the internet where several websites said to feed my fish more that that. And yet, there was that voice.

"ONLY ONE PELLET OF FOOD A DAY! AND SKIP A DAY A WEEK!"

So I ignored the internet, fed Finney one teeny, weeny nugget a day, and dutifully skipped Sundays.

Finney's fins started to shrink.  They got stumpy, as if something was mysteriously chomping chunks out of it every week. When I got him, he had lush fins and brilliant iridescent blue scales with a black face. Finney's face turned a dusky gray and the blue became muted and paler.

So one day, after Finney gave me fishy-eye-glare of pathetic hunger, I said, "Eff it, I'm feeding him more. If he's going to die, he'll die with a full stomach." So I put in three nuggets a day. And he didn't die. In fact, his fins started to regenerate and his color came back after only two weeks.

The moral of the story? And what does this have to do with writing? Or life for that matter?

The loudest, most insistent voice isn't always right.

It's not a volume contest, after all.

Bad book reviews come to mind in this scenario. Those can scream pretty loudly! Or maybe it's bad writing advice, or querying advice, or career advice. But if your instinct and other, quieter sources say otherwise, maybe, just maybe you should ignore that loud voice.

Remember this old adage?

Feed a person a fish, you keep them alive for a day. Teach a person to fish, you feed them for the rest of their lives.

Who knew there was something to be learned about feeding the darned fish?


Finnegan the Fish. Doing well. Swimmingly, in fact.

38 comments:

Shelley Munro said...

A very fishy story! Sorry, I couldn't resist :)
I totally agree. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut.

Shelly said...

Now he is truly a beautiful fish, and he proves the theory that our gut instinct is usually the one that is right.

Great thing to think on today~

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great analogy to writing. Glad your beautiful fish is doing better.

Meredith said...

So glad your fish is doing better! That's always good advice to keep in mind when getting critiques and reviews. Thanks, Lydia!

Gail said...

Great analogy. Good news for your fish.

Bryan Russell said...

We have a betta in our work office. Luckily, I'm not responsible for feeding him.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you didn't kill him!
We have to remember the minority screams loudest.

mshatch said...

pretty fish!

Kristen Wixted said...

I have heard so many different stories about those beta fish. I think they are pretty much indestructible.

Always good to listen to you gut. And also always good to make pets happy (says the owner of a fat white cat).

Cat York said...

Aw. Love that. And I'm glad your fish is doing well. ;)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Uh-oh. My son has a pet Beta. Pet store told us the same thing! I'll have to tell him to watch for signs of starvation.
Thanks Lydia...the practical advice trumps the other stuff for me today!

Taylor Lynn said...

Funny how often that little voice inside turns out to be right...

Finnegan looks lovely; so glad he's doing well! I once had a beta fish (Katrina) who lived for years, so as long as he's getting enough food, Finney may last awhile yet. :)

Hugs!

A Lady's Life said...

Fin rot could be caused by many things.
Feeding is always good and changing the water daily with non chlorinated water.
My fish was fine until he had babies to look after because then I didn't know how to change the water without hurting the black pepper sized babies.What a dilemma that was and I eventually lost all the babies I was waiting for so long.

Miranda Hardy said...

Wow! He's beautiful. Great story and advice.

Krispy said...

I'm so impressed by this analogy, and great advice too! Glad to see Finney being so gloriously blue and not hungry! :)

Cherie Reich said...

Fantastic analogy! And such a pretty fish! And it is good not to overfeed fish (my goldfish is still swimming after six years), but one pellet definitely wouldn't be enough for a fish.

Romance Reader - Nas said...

A great analogy, Lydia!

I overfed and my fish's head got so swollen, it used to overturn as couldn't keep balance while swimming.

prerna pickett said...

what a fun analogy. All my oldest wants for Christmas is a fish so we're getting him a beta, too! Glad to know this info for when we actually buy the fish later this month.

Catherine Stine said...

Sweet story with a good moral. I'm so glad your fishy lives!

Botanist said...

Haven't got as far as reviews, but the analogy holds true for critiques, too!

Glad you listened to your own instincts in time.

Sarah said...

"The loudest, most insistent voice isn't always right."

I am hugging this blog post so hard. I'm not kidding. *hugggsssss*

Jaye Robin Brown said...

Yay for quiet fish voices!

JEFritz said...

He's a very pretty fish and he inspired some good advice (I hope I remember it!). Also, kudos for you for using "swimmingly".

Connie Keller said...

Finnegan looks amazing!!

Pet store fish "experts" generally aren't. Years ago, we bought two fish we were assured would live together in peace and harmony. They didn't. The kids cried.

Lori M. Lee said...

Love this post! And Finnegan looks beautiful! I have four betta fish myself :D

Stephanie Thornton said...

Finney is a pretty betta for sure. I'm glad you didn't listen to that girl's advice!

I did have to sniff a little at this--I had a classroom betta named Roosevelt for the past two years. He died last Friday, prompting some of my students to have an impromptu memorial. Poor Roosevelt!

Barbara Watson said...

I love all of this. It's just really powerful, Lydia. And it's something I need to be reminded of today.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I am glad your Finney is better. Great advice Lydia :)

Windy Aphayrath said...

Great advice! ... on a separate but not note, my husband had betta fish he kept alive for 7 years and he fed it twice a day and it grew to be the biggest, fattest, finniest (and happiest, imo) betta fish I've ever seen. So I think you're doing the right thing!

Karen Lange said...

He is beautiful! Glad he's doing better. :)

Lynda R Young said...

I'm glad to hear Finney survived.

Wendy Lu said...

This may quite possibly be my favorite story you have told on your blog, Lydia! Mainly because I can totally relate, having had betta fish and goldfish myself in the past. And turtles, too! Finney looks a lot like my old betta, Cheeho :)

Excellent moral of the story. It's so true! Also, the caption for Finney's photo is perfect.

~Wendy Lu

The Red Angel Blog

Jai Joshi said...

I'm glad you listened to your instincts and saved poor little Finney! I've always felt that nature has lots to tell us, especially when we least expect it.

Jai

DL Hammons said...

When I got married that's the exact thing my mother told my future-wife..."Feed him only once a day!"

Thank god Mrs. DL ignored her advice!!

:)

lbdiamond said...

Poor Finney! Makes me wonder what that lady was thinking! Glad you listened to the quiet voice. Finney looks so handsome now!!! ;)

Hanny said...

For a second I thought you meant betta fish, as in "better fish!" I'm an idiot. He looks very pretty, anyway:)

Leslie S. Rose said...

I'm such a rule follower. This is a good cautionary tail (see where I went with that).

Eva Inka Nurmaisya said...


Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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