Goodbye Alpha

Friday night Betty & I lost another of our beautiful fish; this time, it was one of our black and white sharks, half of the team we originally called The Cocteau Twins but who came to be known – because of the difference in their sizes early on – as Alpha and Omega.
At least we think it was Alpha who died; my guess is that he was actually a little older than Omega, since he did get bigger sooner. They did come to match, again, after a few years, where we couldn’t tell one from the other. They fought each other all the time – sharks will do that, they’re highly aggressive – so they both wound up with somewhat battered fins from their battles.
Alpha is somehat famous for being the fish that took the hugest dive out of a tank I’ve ever heard of. We were doing something – cleaning the tank, or feeding them – and they tended to get agitated with any change. One day Alpha manage to propel himself out of the 3″ opening at the top of the tank and propel himself clear out of the tank, up into the air about 2′ over the tank, and then landed – I kid you not – about 8′ away, onto our hardwood bedroom floor. It was one hell of an arc.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, we do have cats, too. So in a mad moment of complete chaos, Betty was standing there freaking out because this insane shark had leapt out of the tank, and my first thought was the boys – who, as these things go, had just come in to the bedroom to find out what all the ruckus was about. I hurried them back out of the room while Alpha flailed, and eventually, we got hold of his slippery, muscular self and put him back in the tank. He had unfortunately brained himself and so swam upside down for a couple of days until the huge concussion on his head healed.
& That wasn’t what he died of. He lived for several years after that, but died, like our poor Emma did, of upsidedown-y ness. I’ve decided that upside down disease (it’s actually called swim bladder disease) operates the way pneumonia does for older people – it’s a sign that the system, overall, isn’t working the way it should anymore.
We were thankful he didn’t have to struggle with trying to right himself for too long, and will bury him next to Emma.
It is sad to see our Omega, once one of three, swimming around aimlessly in his 40 gallon tank, no orange Emma to harass, no fellow shark to beat up (and to be beaten up by, in turn). We’re thinking we may get him some tiny, swift friends to occupy his time.