To The Fish I Saw At Petco
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To The Fish I Saw At Petco

My morality prevented me from saving a fish.

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To The Fish I Saw At Petco

We both paced like tigers.


Except, I was Homo Sapiens, and you are a fish. A Betta Splendens, to be exact. I stand five feet and 8 inches, and you are only 2 inches long. I saw the connection, but my wanting to remain ignorant made me look away. I saw you when I passed by to leave the store. I had only needed a toy for my dog Charley, but you caught my eye somehow.

I always try to pass by the shelf that has the Betta fish, as they are cruelly kept in plastic tenements without the briefest consideration about the fish's wellbeing. Every time I pass by this section of the store, I feel overwhelmed, overwhelmed as in how I would see sick puppies on the side of the road. Most of these fish die without proper care, or they die in the cups in which they are housed. But I figured I would look anyway.

The wall of sickly fish seemed like forever as it housed its victims. These tight courters and insufficient room made these fish depressed without any enrichment in sight. They were overfed daily, and their water was barely changed. The dead were left there, unburied. Once they were gotten rid of, they would be thrown in a bin along with the rest of the trash. No attachment or affection tied to their departure, only suffering remained for those who lived long enough. Immediately after the trash is taken out, another fish takes its place.

Among this chaos and death, there was you. You are a vibrant mixture of red with tannish colors splashed around in-between your long flowing fins, but that is not what caught my eye. What caught my eye was what you were doing. You were swimming around in circles. Around in the creases in the cup you were housed in. You wanted to be free. You wanted to swim the lengths of rivers and explore the depths of the ocean. You had hope. You were not motionless but full of motion. You could not contain yourself, but you were already contained within this inescapable plastic casing.

When I saw you. I saw me. I saw the frightened face I always see in the bathroom mirror. I see the emotionless employees of this world pass us by every day. I saw myself in you. The loneliness of isolation, the doubtful hope of this world, the unfair consequences set upon you without justice. I saw you pace like a starving tiger, as I notice myself pacing around my room without any direction or contemplation. I contemplated bringing you home with me, so we could explore this world together. But I didn't.

Why did I not save you?


I had nearly every reason to bring you with me. I was already setting up a 5-gallon tank with ample decorations and live plants. I was excited to not be alone anymore. I was nearly done cycling the tank with beneficial bacteria, it would be just one more week before the ecosystem was ready. I could have given you water changes and food before that time would come for you to see your new home. So, why did I not care to bring you with me?

My morality. I see the dozens of fish left uncared for and sent back home with someone who is misguided and misinformed on how to care for this animal. The market for selling Betta fish is extremely profitable to pet stores as the fish usually come in for a few cents on the dollar and sold for six dollars. If I would have bought this fish, it would tell corporate that they are doing a good job and that they need to expand their Betta fish selection so more people can buy them. This will only lead to more dying and sick fish in the long run. If I would have bought this animal, 5 more would have taken their place. I cannot bring myself to save one fish in the short term, while I let more animals suffer in unheated, unkempt, manufactured plastic cups.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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