Old Nick is another name for the devil but our pitch black Betta fish is young and named after Nick, the boastful, lively Left 4 Dead character.
He is always up front, of his tank that is, always flaring and very beautiful.
His sooty fins are long and flowing, his black eyes spark like jet-stone and his black body gleams with flashes of colour when caught in a light beam.
As a baby, when he first came to us he was extremely adventurous. One day when we put the light on in his tank, he was missing. We searched frantically, how could a betta fish be lost in his tank with lid firmly secured? It was just ridiculous. We lifted his toy skull out of the tank, thinking he must be hiding beneath it, but no sign of him there! It was a mystery and we were growing anxious, fearing the worst we began to search in his black gravel, but he definitely wasn’t there.
Only one possibility left but it seemed unlikely. At the back of his tank is a small boxed section where filter and heater are housed, there is a very small hole which cables are passed through, surely not , it barely seemed credible, but we looked at the back and there he was, trying to swim around in an area where there wasn’t even room for him to turn. This was going to be tricky, how in the world could we get him out? He had squeezed his way through the hole and looking from above it was obvious that he had damaged his dorsal fin. We had to get him out quickly, but how? No net could fit into that space and to lift him out with fingers would surely cause more damage. There he was, looking proud still, even in his predicament!
After a quick but detailed debate, we decided that the only way to rescue him was to tip him out, into a bucket. We used his clean changing bucket, took all loose objects from the tank then feeling nervous, tipped the tank up over the bucket. He resisted at first but then took us by surprise by taking a flying leap. To our horror he missed the bucket and landed on the carpet. He was scooped up quickly and plopped back into the water left in the tank which was then topped up.
Poor Nick was dejected, with tears in his magnificent anal fin and a patch torn from his dorsal. He was very down, even refused food. We decided on medication, stress coat and some soothing aquarium salt. It was a day before he accepted food and for about a week he stayed quietly in the corner of his tank looking sorry for himself. Happy to say, he is now fully recovered and preparing to celebrate Halloween!
He is back to sleeping on the top of his favourite skull toy with its gleaming amber eyes and flares again at anyone who goes close to his tank, including our soot-black cat whose yellow eyes flash bright green when she sees him flaring threateningly at her. We hope to find a red plant to put in his tank at Halloween, as part of his decorations for Halloween is beyond doubt the night for him to shine!