Fish float despite rescue efforts

Kristine Gill

My fish is dying. By the time this column runs, I will have flushed him into sewage heaven. His buddy already died. His name was Milo and he was a white feeder goldfish with an orange spot right above his eye. I had the kid at Pet Supplies Plus specifically pick him out because he looked so lively, darting among the other decaying fish.

But let us rewind.

My fish have Ich. The symptoms are clamped fins, sporadic swimming, shaking of the tail fins and scraping along objects in the tank. Ich is a parasite. It looks like small white dots resembling grains of salt, scattered along the fish’s body and fins. According to, its full names are ichthyophthiriasis or ichthyophthirius

Names just sound icky.

I know how to treat my fish though. I’ve owned fish since the third grade. And when I say “owned” I mean loved and cared for. I’ve seen my share of fin rot, swim bladder and fungus. I know how to treat this Ich that plagues my scaled amigos. What I need is medication.

Except medication for Ich is at the pet store. The pet store is far away. And as much as I appreciate all that this snowfall has done for Kent State, it has also made the utilization of transportation extremely difficult: My roomate’s car is snowed in.

No worries, right? The Internet is good for more than stalking friends through Facebook newsfeeds. It also provides information on alternative treatments for Ich.

As it turns out, salt is actually the preferred method of treatment. This is great news! I have a whole salt shaker sitting on the microwave ready to battle protozoan parasites in an epic underwater struggle! But according to the site, I can’t use salt that’s been iodized. So Miss Morton and her purple umbrella are out of the question.

A few Web sites mention the use of rock salt. There are barrels of rock salt at every corner on campus. So I bundle up and trail blaze a path to the nearest barrel. I remove the heavy, snow-covered lid and grab a handful of salt.

Of course when I read further into the information I find that common rock salt used outdoors contains something called yellow prussiate of soda, more commonly referred to as “You’re sore out of luck and you went outside for nothing.” Yellow prussiate of soda is what prevents rock salt from clumping together.

So it appears as if we surname and breathing apparatus gills are in trouble.

Suddenly Nelly Fertado is claiming I mean nothing to her, and I open my phone to say hello to my father who called at the perfect time:

“Hi Dad,” I said.

“Hey kiddo,” he replied.

“My fish are dying.”

It’s not the first conversation we’ve started this way. My father and I have been zookeepers for our many pets since I was a mere 4 years old. He immediately jumped in with questions and suggestions.

My final and desperate course of action was a water change. It wouldn’t do much without medication, but it was a start. I set my fish under a desk lamp to heat their water.

Several sites recommended raising water temperature slightly to help combat the Ich.

I said a prayer and went to bed.

Upon returning to my dorm at 2 a.m. after a fire alarm scare sent all of Apple outside for 20 minutes, I found that Milo has died. He is floating at the top of the water while Otis swims warily along the gravel. Otis has seen his fate played out right before his wide, lidless and dimwitted eyes. Be sure to check the obituaries soon.

Kristine Gill is a freshman prejournalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].