I lost one of my fish yesterday .

That morning I was feeding my fish when I noticed a strange creature in my tank. At first I thought it was a piece of plant, but then it started to move. Much panicking and frantic googling later, I thought it may be a nymph. How one of those got in there I don’t know but now I was scared. This creature was not harmless like the snails, and could attack fish of its size. Which is all my fish. I summoned my courage to fish it out with the net. Then threw it down the sink. Then ran the tap for ages to make sure it really went away. Then poured some bleach down. Just in case.

I don’t think I’ve been that freaked out by something since that time I discovered cockroaches could fly…as one was flying at me.

I thought it was all over but then that evening I spotted it: a fish, stuck in one of the plants, staring vacantly out of the tank, not moving. I tapped the tank and it didn’t react. With an ominous feeling, I phoned my dad , who advised me to poke it. I put in a long stick and pushed it gently. It was stiff and unreactive.

It was dead.

Worse, as it came free of the plant and turned about in the water, I could see it had been partially eaten.

The nymph must have attacked it, I theorised. Perhaps the nymph ate it’s way out the fish, my dad suggested.

I thought I was going to throw up. I had to catch this half dead, mauled fish, and throw it out. I had to deal with my failure to look after it. My guilt. It had only been three weeks. This was one of my newer fish, at least, and then I felt even more guilty for my relief at that. Poor little fish. I cried a little. I panicked- what if this was just the start of it? My father listened patiently to my freaking out, then turned me over to my mom to deal with. My mom tried, but even after we talked, I didn’t stop freaking out all evening, and I lay awake for ages as every time I closed my eyes all I could see was the hollow stare and gnawed gut of my dead fish.

This morning, my fish were scared. They wouldn’t come into the open water , even for food. They were hiding amongst the plants and ornaments. They were shoaling together, not daring to separate . I felt awful. And even more panicked- is this because they’ve realised they are down a number and they think there’s something in the water picking them off, or is there actually something in the water picking them off? Was there another, bigger nymph? It was hard to leave the house this morning.

I’m suddenly scared for my fish. Nature is so very brutal. I knew my fish weren’t going to live long and were not likely to die of old age. I read those warnings when I was researching. But I didn’t expect such a grizzly scene.

Thankfully, when I came home tonight my fish seemed more relaxed, were less tightly shoaled and swimming about in the open more. And everyone was accounted for.

I hope it’s over now.