Some boys have dogs to keep them company. Others have housecats to curl up and make them feel alright. When I joined the Fout lab as the only graduate student, I’ll admit that it was lonely. Being alone in lab has its perks, but sometimes you just wish you had someone to talk to. For me, I (quite unexpectedly) found that companionship in a tiny Betta fish named Ernst (Ernie, colloquially). Originally just a whim, something to put in an old 3L flask with an oddly-sized neck, I grew to love Ernie. He had a lot of energy for a fish, and always swam up to greet me when I came into the office (sure, he just wanted food, but I pretended he wanted my company). It wasn’t another person, but I was surprised by how good a surrogate caring for a fish could be.
Yesterday I noticed Ernie swimming a little oddly, and realized that his color was a bit off (as a colorblind person, I don’t always pick up on those changes right away). Immediately, I went to the fish blogosphere and realized he probably had velvet, or at least some form of aquatic parasite. I ordered some fish medicine, which arrived this morning. I went to the mailroom to pick it up, but before I could get the medicine into his bowl, it was too late.
Here’s to my fishy friend, Ernst Otto Fischer, who was graced with a burial at sea this morning at 11am. May you find many bloodworms wherever you are now.