Fish sitting. It died. Do/should I replace it? (Poll)

Well, my neighbour’s kids, cutest little girls, asked me to fish sit this week. They brought the crew over yesterday; three fish: Bob, Murray and Kitty. Along with these three, in a separate glass vase, came Arnie, the Beta. Apparently, that is the next door neighbours’ neighbours’ fish. They are going to be away at the same time so Arnie tagged along with Bob, Murray and Kitty.

Anyway, Arnie is dead. Got up this morning, prepared to follow detailed feeding instructions as given to me by an 8 year old and couldn’t wake Arnie up.

Admittedly, from the limited exposure (fish store) I’ve seen Betas, Arnie didn’t look 100% when he arrived.

So, now, the question: do I take Arnie to the fish store, try to find someone else that looks like him, put Arnie II in the vase and pretend nothing happened? or do I just say “Sorry, the fish died.”?

BTW, I have a 20 gallon tank of my own that I have had for quite some time so I am sort of familiar with some kinds of fish, although Betas are strange to me.

I think you should tell the family what happened and offer to replace the fish, but not replace it without telling them.

Tell the parents what happened, and let them decide what to do.

Aw, poor Arnie. I’d definitely tell the family and offer to buy a new fishie, but let them decide what to do.

Bettas are fun little fish, and they’re pretty tough, but they can certainly up and die with little or no warning. It sucks, but that’s the way it is sometimes.

Tell the parents before they come to pick up the fish. You have no reason to buy the kid a new on either. It’s not like you ran over a puppy. They dumped a dying fish on you.

It’s a two-dollar beta-- it’s not like the OP’s replacing a car. I’d probably replace it and not bother saying anything. Beta personalities are only so specific. I’d sacrifice two bucks to avoid being part of some kids’ learning about death and coloring their whole vacation memories.

Bettas are pretty tough. If Arnie died, it was likely just old age and nothing you did or didn’t do. I wouldn’t replace him. They can choose a new fish if they want.

Another vote for “ask the parents”. As a parent, it would really depend on the age and temperament of my kid, as well as the assumed health status of the fish. Like **capybara **says, I might decide not to taint the memory of the vacation or instill anxiety about leaving my fish if this is totally out of the blue. OTOH, if the fish has been noticeably ill and they’ve talked about it, then maybe the death won’t be a shock or a bad thing. You can’t know until you’ve talked to them.

We had a ferret die on us while on vacation once, but we knew before leaving she wasn’t long for this world. It was sort of a relief, actually, not having to deal with the disposal of the remains myself - our pet sitters gave her (Loki) a “Viking Burial” out on Lake Michigan in a little cardboard boat! Or at least said they did; really I don’t care, but it was a nice story for my 8 year old.

You think you’re in a quandry. I still remember the incident when I was babysitting, and I had a heck of a time finding an all-night orphanage that would deliver!

It was nothing I did - I only had it for about 12 hours!

But, when I was checking him out when I got him, his fins seems kind of droopy, like wilty lettuce. And, when my neighbour’s kid was giving me feeding instructions, she said “4 of these little pellets per day”. When I read the back of the package they sent along, it said “2-4 pellets three times a day”. Which, in the long run, can be quite different. Don’t really know which instructions they were following and if it got lost in the translation between my neighbour’s kid and the kid who actually had the fish.

BTW, what is the life expectancy of a fish that can live in a flower vase with a plant on top of the vase?

I vote to tell the parents and have a replacement on hand when they get back they can decide if this is the time to explaine death to the kid. It is not like you owe them it does not sound like you did anything wrong but they don’t cost much.

Betta supposedly live for about 3-5 years. However, I’ve noticed a lot of the ones in the stores are already pretty mature. I think they do that because people want to buy the showy ones and they don’t actually develop the really long fins for a couple of years. We were fortunate enough to buy ours from a fish guy at PetSmart who pointed a young frisky fish out to us. He didn’t look too fancy at the time, but has developed nicely over the last couple of years.

The point is most kids have the brains to know the fish they stare at all the time is not the one in the bowl, even if the adults don’t. The parents may have even been hoping the thing dies. I would have preferred to go get a new fish of my choosing as a kid. I let my parents know this after the first switch a dead fish try.

Maybe a teeny tiny pair of Groucho glasses would help.


I would normally say go ahead and replace it, since it died on your watch and betas cost like five bucks. But I think there’s at least the possibility that the parents have been waiting for it to die, if the kid’s fish somehow has become the parent’s responsibility. So I’d explain and offer to replace, maybe even offering to take the kid to the pet store to pick out the replacement.

Once they come back, you won’t have time to consult with the parents before the kids are there to collect their fish. I’d replace it now, then take the parents aside and tell them what happened. It’ll be their call to explain what happened, to the kids.

Thank you all for your input. I was honestly expecting more people to say “just replace the fish”.

Also, something I may have not made clear, I do not know this kid or parents. It’s my neighbour’s neighbour whom I don’t know at all.

If this fish belonged to my neighbours kids, I’d be fine.

But it’s because it’s someone I don’t know I’m not sure how to approach.

Call the neighbor, explain what happened, and offer to replace Arnie for the neighbor once removed. I wouldn’t lie…and kids need to learn pets die.

Perhaps, next to the floating fish, you could add an empty miniature bottle of prescription pills.