Our Organic Fish, Couple 1: Cis and Trans

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.—Danielle, my roommate, and I have been adopting couples of fish from the Wal-Mart in Olean, N.Y. since September 2009. Pay around $5 per fish, fill the tank, introduce the scaly creatures to their new home and pray that they live.

Cis (orange goldfish), Trans (gray catfish) and Petri (purple dinosaur) . photo taken by me

Bright-colored pebbles cover the bottom of our pentagonal, 1-gallon fish tank. Petri, the purple underwater dinosaur, happily sits in the stones and greets the fish as they enter their new habitat. In the back of the tank, a vertical tube with a blue porous stone synthesizes air bubbles to oxygenate the water.

We bought our first couple, Cis and Trans in September. We can thank our grueling organic chemistry course we currently endure for the creativity of our fish names. According to L.G. Wade’s Organic Chemistry, two atoms are “cis” if they point toward the same face of a molecule. Two atoms are “trans” if they point toward opposite faces.

I woke up the morning after we purchased the fish and saw Cis floating, upside down, at the top of the tank. His entire tail was missing! Evil Trans lurked at the bottom in the shadows of Petri.

The tiny orange goldfish would try his hardest to show me that he could still swim, but Cis finally exhausted himself and understood his next home was the porcelain express, as characters in Finding Nemo dub the toilet.

Danielle, my roommate, ready to walk Cis to the porcelain express in a water bottle . photo taken by me

Danielle scooped Cis up in a water bottle, and, together, we walked to the bathroom for the ceremony. A few friends joined as we sang “Amazing Grace” and flushed the toilet.

Our freshman biology lab professor told me and Danielle that catfish are territorial and when put in a small tank with another fish, it will bite off the other’s tail. She told us after the horrific incident, of course.

Trans lived with only his dinosaur friend, Petri, for the following month until Danielle and I traveled to our respective homes for fall break in October. We decided it would be best to let Trans swim freely among the mature trout and catfish present in a pond on Danielle’s property. I wonder how his tail is doing…

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