Rest In Peace “Sticker” the Plecostimus – childhood pet death

5 01 2013


Our eight year old daughter has gone from complete joy to utter disappointment and grief in a span of a week. She acquired her first aquarium from “Santa” at Christmas. A few days later we ventured to PETCO to guide her in choosing some fish for her tank. We talked with a “fish specialist” who was very helpful – and we talked with one at another store when purchasing the aquarium kit. She first chose a Marble Molly and a Common Plecostimus (little tiny catfish that can grow up to 2 feet long!). We have done everything they told us and Ellie has been responsibly caring for her pets every single day. We also have a cat, a box turtle, and have pet sat for neighbors, but this is her first pet she isn’t sharing with family.

Unfortunately, I think we unintentionally starved the plecostimus she affectionately named “sticker” because it just stuck to the ground and side of the tank eating up algae. There likely wasn’t enough algae and I looked up more information to find a few more things Sticker required that we hadn’t been told. This is how we learn.

This is first death of a pet in our household (she is aware of family and friends who have died, so not a first death experience for her). I asked what Ellie would like to do with the fish and she said “bury him”. My husband suggested a “burial at sea” via toilet might be appropriate for a fish and she just glared at him. So with trowel in one hand, and deceased fish in a ziplock container in the other hand, she dug a little hole in our backyard. As Ellie put Sticker’s body in the hole, I asked everyone to share their favorite memories of our short time with this little fish, then we said a prayer thanking God for allowing him to be in our family for a little bit. I mentioned that stickers will help fertilize the yard and bring new life in the spring. My husband tried not to laugh at me, then we walked back up our house with our arms around Ellie. She did very well, and tomorrow we’ll look for another Plecostimus and try again at our new life as fish owners.

Rest In Peace Stickers. Know you were loved by a sweet little girl named Ellie.





2 responses

5 01 2013

It probably wasn’t anyone’s fault. When you first set up an aquarium of any sort (tropical/marine/cold water) you WILL 100% lose your first lot of fish. Because you need the first lot of fish to start up the bacteria that fish need to survive. It’s unfortunate but I think pet deaths are a good way to introduce death to a child.


21 03 2013

a belated reply, but I wanted to say THANK YOU for your comment. Knowing that it is likely to lose 100% of the first fish has brought a truth and somewhat comfort to my daughter as she figures out how to raise her fish. Thank you. šŸ™‚


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