Loaves and fishes ( one fish, two fishes!)

imagesLoaves and fishes

My fishes died yesterday! I was foolish to have left the care of my aquarium to a neighbour up the road. We were going camping. All this back in the eighties or so. She, the friendly neighbour, in her way thought it best to feed them in one hit as she too planned to go away but did not tell us that. What made it worse was that the aquarium held salt water tropical fish with life coral. It held 500 litres of ocean water with some beautiful and very expensive fish. (notice ‘fish’ as the plural)

Too much food for fish means that the water will go off, bacteria will soak up all oxygen and the fish will simply drown and die. I had planned to go back to Sydney half way through our camping holiday to check on my fish. The devastation after arrival came clear within seconds. There was by beloved Emperor floating sideways gasping for air with two blue Damsels as dead as could be. The air pump was going flat tack but with some fish rotting as well, it was an impossible and unfair battle. I knew what to do.

I transferred the still live fish into a plastic garbage container with fresh lot of sea water which I obtained down the hill of our street direct from the harbour, and transferred the air pump to aerate the water nonstop. I emptied the aquarium of the putrid water and buried the dead fish below the paper bark tree in the court yard… A sad day! I saved some fish and after clean sea water was put in the aquarium transferred the live fishes* back into their own home again. Fish are very intelligent and they knew I was in the room and would became agitated, wanting to be fed. I read that an aquarium holder of octopuses’ allowed his pets to go and wander around the house at night before going back into the water.

When I read how reefs are being plundered by money hungry tropical reef fish and aquarium traders, I stopped having them and now just have our JRT ‘Milo’. Even in the dog world there are stories doing the rounds of ‘puppy farming’. It just is never ending how so much is reduced to money. Anyway, Milo is just a street dog without pedigree and was sold by a very caring dog loving family.

I now have to explain the heading of ‘loaves’.

During the last war and my persistent memories of that period so early on I was given a loaf of dark bread by a German soldier billeted below street level in the cellars of our street. It was just a few weeks before it would all end in the capitulation of all German troops. He must have felt pity. It was when hunger stalked the street of Rotterdam and thousands were starting to die of starvation. You can imagine my mother’s joy of having a loaf of bread. It came from the enemy. A kind enemy.

I have never forgotten.

32 Responses to “Loaves and fishes ( one fish, two fishes!)”

  1. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Oh Gerard I am so sorry for the loss of your fish. What a sad thing to happen. Thank heaven for Milo, and who said a pedigree made a better dog? Good boy Milo! Charlie loves you!

    The story of the loaf of bread is heartwarming. There is good in everyone.


  2. Lottie Nevin Says:

    This is a very sad story – thank goodness for the loaf at the end to save the day and the kindness of the soldier. I can’t even begin to imagine how grisly that period must have been for you – I know my Dutch relatives suffered terribly. One aunt was forced to live in her garage as theit house was commandeered by the German soldiers and she lived on potato peelings. Somehow the catastrophe of the war did nothing to dampen her spirit or great humour – she later became Hollands most avid collector of jelly moulds and had budgerigars flying freely all over her house. I adored her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thanks Lottie,
      Glad you had an nice Aunt. My mum’s sister was also a great Aunt. She always bought us nice things and cleaned our nails, for which she was less popular. She never married and we (6) became her children she never had.
      She lived in Amsterdam and used to send me cut out Eric The Norseman newspaper comic strips.
      She was a great teacher as well and some of her students became life-long friends.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Aah your poor fish and what a dumb a– neighbor. I would have wanted to smack her on the head with a dead fish if I had been in your situation.

    But dogs are so much better than a tank full of fish. After all I’ve never heard of a fish that barks at possums and keeps its human company. They also can not lick your hand or warn you of someone at the door.

    WW11 was such a devastating time. It warms the heart to read about the enemy showing some kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bkpyett Says:

    Well written and sad story of your fish Gerard. So pleased Milo came into your lives to show what a real pet can do! Your loaf story warms the heart to know that there are greys, not just the black and whites of good and bad!


  5. roughseasinthemed Says:

    The fish story is sad. They might not be dogs but they are still living entities, I like them. I wanted some for our pond but we had frogs, so I settled for frogs and lily pads and no fish.

    Nice soldier.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, frogs are good in ponds. They eat mosquitos which can be useful. Frogs are also musical which fish hardly ever are.


  7. berlioz1935 Says:

    As a child, I once caught a fish in a creek and took it home. I put it in a glass and put it out into the sun and then had an afternoon nap. on waking up the poor fish was cooked, not ready to eat but dead. On top of it, I saw my two sister spitting into the glass containing the dead fish in his hot bath. I was enraged as I thought, they had killed the fish.

    I have met many Russian soldiers who were kind to me and others. They often went out of their way to help. They had no reasons to be friendly to us Germans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, children do strange things. I remember putting small metal containers in the local canal and pick them up after a few hours. They always had tiny fish in them. They never survived more than a day or so which made me sad.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. rod Says:

    I once saw a fish make persistent attempts to revive one which just died


  9. Andrew Says:

    My father kept tropical fish but the usual ones, nothing exotic. Guppies, Mollies, Swordfish, Angel fish etc. They were difficult to keep healthy. The story of the loaf from tne enemy soldier should remind us that many are not our enemy by choice. They are conscripted, immersed in propaganda, manipulated in many ways. Deep down many have the capacity to be good men and women. A loaf is beyond price when hunger prevails.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      My dad had an aquarium too and we had to leave this behind when our family migrated to Australia. We had the same mixture of fish and I felt our departure keenly for losing friends and fish alike.


  10. Silver in the Barn Says:

    Gerard, we are active in animal rescue and fostering and one of our most satisfying cases was helping in the rescue of seven dogs from a horrible puppy mill in Tennessee. Think Dachau for dogs. It is criminal what is allowed to go on for the sake of the almight buck. Your story of the German soldier is immensely touching. Of course you will remember that act of kindness forever.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      And the story of dogs destined for the dinner table being rescued and flown to the US was heart warming as well. Many pet shops have signs now stating their opposition to puppy farms. Just hope they are truthful.


      • Silver in the Barn Says:

        Yes, my question is just how do they know for sure…these mills can start out fine and degrade over time. We don’t have enough inspectors here, I’m not sure what the situation is in Australia. In any event, “adopt, don’t shop!”


  11. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Overfed fish, underfed kid: I get the connection. The happy dog was a bonus. 🙂 –Curt


  12. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist Says:

    That is a beautiful story Gerard. Our enemy is also a human and it is heartwarming when that humanity shines through. In reality we all just want to live in peace and harmony and somehow those in power often force a life of war onto those that want to live in peace.
    The other story of your fish is not so nice. We have three tanks of tropical fish. I have never ventured into marine only because it seems much more fragile an eco system. I understand what you went through with those deaths.


  13. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    This was an acrobatic post, Gerard – sad, beautiful, worrying, consoling.


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