Ode to a Catfish
In the mid-70’s, the not yet Spouse of Farmer Tom purchased two Platydoras armatulus, aka Striped Raphael Catfish, aka Talking Catfish. The smaller one lived approximately fifteen years which is longer than expected but the larger one kept on ticking.
On the priority list of life, a small tropical fish’s life is low on the list but the persistence of living for decades seems to somehow warrant mentioning.
In 1989, only three fish remained in the large 29-gallon aquarium. Other priorities dictated the need to downsize with the expectation to close down the tank once the last of these members bites the wave.
And then there was one (who, by the way, did not enjoy the downsizing to a 10-gallon tank but adapt, she did).
“Catnafish” tolerated much disturbance along life’s path once leaving the pet shop: Three moves to new home environments plus numerous aquarium changes (as aquariums and equipment deteriorated before she); intrusions of paws as inquisitive cats longed to drink from this new water bowl; survival in suspended animation when a four-day power outage lowered her water temperature; and in recent years, various water issues causing her a real challenge.
And so it appeared that after forty-six years, she’s had enough. The gal of the house, now known as Spouse of Farmer Tom, could finally close down the tank. Not at all a difficult decision at age 71, Spouse will not continue this once thoroughly enjoyed hobby and will, instead, move on to other interests in life.
Looking back on the last eighteen plus years, despite other obligations following the “Spouse of Farmer Tom” designation, I still smiled when I viewed that corner in the Christmas Room. (In case you’re wondering, yes, the tank was decorated year after year for Christmas, too). I either searched for the elusive catfish who slept all day and fed after dark or noticed her face peering from her cave. In the evenings, she would wait on top of the air bubble wand anticipating dinner. Now, in the tank’s place, there stands a beautifully refurbished antique rocker (courtesy, Uncle Bob) with an old-fashioned lamp by its side.
And I still smile.
Although not common, catfish–even tropical catfish–can live a long time. People often commented her longevity was a credit to my care but I disagree. I expressed often, “she’s a tough old bird” but because of my faith, I think it’s more. As a young woman enjoying the beauty of my community tank and because of my love for critters, I prayed for their welfare (critters were not an uncommon subject of prayer along with other human-type concerns and thanksgivings). Of course not all prayers are answered to our liking and there are multitudes of more important matters to petition but I believe by allowing one little aquarium resident an exceptional life, the Good Lord showed an aging woman He even listens to the little things.
Spouse of Farmer Tom