I’m Emotionally Attached to a $0.19 Feeder Goldfish

It all started when I decided to get Willow a pet.

You see, I had pets growing up. There was Casper the Friendly Cat (who was a white albino cat who was also deaf), MC Hamster (who used to hang from the top of his cage and swing back and forth… I found him cold as ice and rock hard one day in his cage… yikes!), Sasha and Princess our dogs and a few other pets who were less creatively named along the way.

I loved having pets and felt that they helped to give me character, responsibility and mostly, stories to tell. When we were talking about the type of pet to get Willow, we decided on a fish.

Why a fish you ask?

Well, they are a low commitment (no taking them for walks, you can still vacation, if you forget to feed them it’s not THAT big of a deal and they can’t really turn on your child and attack them) and they are, for the most part, easy to care for and clean. Oh, and if they happen to pass away for any reason whatsoever, they have a low replacement cost.

Don’t judge. You’ve all been there.

Anyway, we decided on the fish and took Willow to the fish store to pick out the aquarium and the accessories. Little did I know though that we weren’t going to be able to take our new fish friend home that same day. It turns out that you need to give the tank a full week to stabilize before adding your fish.

A week.

With an empty fish tank.

Do you know what that would do to my almost three year old little girl who thinks we’re getting a fish today?

So, as we stood there in the fish store, I looked the salesperson helping us in the eye and said, “Listen, you HAVE to help me out here… my daughter thinks we’re getting a fish today. If I don’t have a fish – any fish – swimming around in that tank for a full week, she’s going to be devastated.”

The salesperson looked at me, a bit nervous as one would be when dealing with the mama bear of a tiny baby cub, and said, “We can’t ethically or morally sell you a fish. It will likely die and we just can’t do that.”

I countered, “Okay, I totally feel you and I feel for the fish and respect you sticking up for their tiny fish selves. However, there’s got to be SOMETHING you can sell me, ethically and morally, that I can take home today.”

She looked at the tanks and said, “Well… I can sell you a feeder goldfish? They are $0.19 and have a low survival rate, are often rampant with disease and are purely sold as feed for other larger fish…”

I interrupted her, “Sold. Give me your best looking, least diseased looking, $0.19 feeder goldfish. We’ll keep him for a week and then we’ll transplant him to another home and make room for our real fish.”

(Looking back, and when you read on you’ll see how I am eating those words and how regretful I feel for calling our fish not real… *tear*)

So, she packed up the fish, Willow picked everything out for the aquarium (rocks, accessories, plants, etc.) and we headed for the cash. $150 later, we were walking out with the best home possible for the least expensive fish.

We were Pretty Woman’ing up this fish’s life yo.

After the tank was fully setup, I added the fish to the super girly aquarium and called Willow over. Through fits of giggles and squeals, I asked her what we should call the fish (even though in my head I’m thinking, “DON’T NAME IT… WORST IDEA EVER… YOU’LL GET ATTACHED!”) and she looks at the fish, hands placed under her chin, and says, “Her name is Bob.”

Everyone… Meet Bob.

Screenshot 2013-12-17 23.05.26

So anyway, fast forward a few days and my dad comes over, as he and my mom do every Tuesday, and they check Bob out and my dad’s like, “How come you only got one tiny goldfish?” and I’m all like, “Meh, he’s just our temporary fish… we’re getting real fish this weekend.”

My dad stops. Stares at me. Blinking.

“What do you mean temporary?” he asks. “Well, this is just a feeder fish,” I say nonchalantly, “Just so Willow would have something to look at in the tank. We’re not seriously keeping him. He’s diseased… probably.” My dad looks at my mom and back at me, “Erin, you can’t just get rid of the fish after a week! That’s just mean!”

I roll my eyes, knowing that this fish is seriously bred for FOOD and he was NINETEEN CENTS and his home cost ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS and this home deserves a few tropical fish of a beautiful finned variety. Looking back, I was putting this fish into a socioeconomic box that the poor fish didn’t even deserve to be in… such STEREOTYPING. Ashamed of myself really.

A few days pass and I take sole responsibility of feeding Bob the Fish tropical flakes and bloodworms for treats and as the days pass, I realize that wee Bob is starting to look forward to my return to the tank.

When I come into the kitchen, he begins to swim around the front part of the tank… almost as if to catch my attention.

When I come to feed him now, he no longer darts to the bottom of the tank afraid… he actually waits for the food near the top and does little flips as though he’s saying thank you.

I wiggle my finger at him and he follows it (I keep saying him but Willow called Bob a girl… must work on that).

And it dawns on me.

I’ve become attached to the feeder fish.

Not just like, “Aww, cute, now on with my day” attached but like, “Hi Bob! How you doin’? Aww, you waiting for me Bobby? Do you like those wee bloodworms? Aww! I’ll turn on your little light here so you can have extra rays of unicorn infused sunlight mmkay Bobalicious?” attached.

It’s bad.

So, now I have this fish that I love and Willow is sort of like, “Meh” about it all and Steve thinks I’m crazy for having fallen in love with this fish that likely has a disease and will likely die (in fact, when I come downstairs, I brace myself… ready for the impending death of my dear beloved Bob) and I’m serious when I say, this is the shit that movies are based on.

So there it is. The story (the long, epic journey) of how I ended up falling in love with a $0.19 feeder fish. Somebody help me.


  1. Mark says

    You’ve got to be careful with those feeder fish, or they’ll steal your heart. Mine just died yesterday. When we first got it, we didn’t expect it to live very long. Most die within two weeks, or two years at the most. After four years, we finally agreed on a name. We ended up having it for nine years and seven months, which comes out to about two-thirds of our marriage and a quarter of my life. The little guy learned to trust me over the years. I was able to put my hand in the bowl, and he would swim around my fingers. When he wanted to get our attention, he made blooping noises, either by darting away from the surface quickly, or by sucking air loudly. His bowl was in the kitchen, so he frequently caught our eye with his wiggling. We look over and he’s watching us, hoping we’ll notice him. He was very endearing. I’ve had all kinds of pets, but I never got this attached to an animal, and I never thought I’d cry this hard over the death of a fish, certainly.

    I must say that I saw something of myself in his situation, trapped in a round watery world, like Earth…can’t get out, and if he did then he’d die with nothing out there to sustain his life. He spent his days hoping for blessings from above.