Gayle Nastasi, animal consultant and author
My daughter was in high school when we brought home a tiny baby Plecostomus for our tank. We didn’t record the exact date, because our luck with Plecos to that point was such that we expected this one to live for maybe a year … two at the most.
Twenty years later, Kirby had grown to about ten inches in length, and was still going strong. Yesterday, he was suctioning his way across the front of the aquarium. I stopped to say, “Well, you’re feeling chipper this morning, aren’t you, old man?”
This morning, I half-noticed him laying on top of his cave. I didn’t think much of it; he did that a lot. I went about pet feeding chores in my usual routine. When I got to the fish, I turned on the light and reached in with the tongs to put his algae wafer in the tank. That’s when it finally dawned on me.
He was upside down.
Kirby lived longer than any of our other pets. Sachet came close, but did not quite reach twenty. He was the only of our current pets who had known, though I can’t say that a fish would remember, my mom. He was with us through the high school and college graduations of both of my children, and through all the joys and sorrows of their lives. He witnessed my struggle with Pyoderma Gangrenosum, and the many months in a wheel chair. He wasn’t just one of the fish in the tank. Old Mister Pleco was a member of our family.
I have been pretty broken up all morning. Yes, over a fish. But he wasn’t just a fish.
He was Kirby.
I hope the rivers of heaven are cool and clear, and filled with all of the delightful aquatic vegetation treats that Plecos love best, old friend. It’s just not going to be the same around here without you.