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Monday, September 30, 2013

Aquatic Life Series: Schroeder the Frog (...Who Does Not Play the Piano)

As a child, I used to read the comics in the newspaper.  Every weekend.  My parents would sit on either end of the couch with the paper in the middle sifting through the pages they intended to read, intended to give to the other and the ones they were intending to throw away.  I always scooped up the colorful "funny pages" before they ended up in the discard pile.  This has nothing to do with my frog, but it was a memory that popped up when I re-read the title for this post as I decided to blog on this fine day.

So after Fishkel, I didn't get another aquatic pet for a couple years.  Since I am not a very typical kid, I didn't want a goldfish, or a beta or any other fish.  I wanted something unique.  So I perused PetSmart with my parents one day and picked out my new pet.  A frog.  An African Dwarf Frog.  They live in water.  Thus began my time with Schroeder.
I can't tell you how long I had Schroeder.  I'm sure it seemed like years to my 8 or 9 year old self, but in reality was probably only 6 months or so.  He had this sweet 10 gallon tank that I cleaned and took amazing care of.  I bought him fake plants and cool trinket things.  I fed him twice a day every day and "played" with him.  I'm not sure how much it can be called "playing," but I did tap on his tank a lot and he would follow my finger around.  I showed him off to all my friends because he was different and that made me interesting.

Then something horrible happened.

He didn't die.  He grew.  Correction, he bloated.  He formed a couple centimeters worth of weird see-through-y crap around his entire body.  He continued to swim up and down in his tank, but much more slowly.  The speed with which he was moving continually decreased until he didn't move at all.  He floated along at the top of his tank consistently.  My dad told me repeatedly that Schroeder had died, but I refused to believe it.  To me, he was on vacation.  He was sleeping.  He had created a bed of blubber so he could rest near the top (and not have to swim up for air) and he was just relaxing.  Maybe he was sick, but he was certainly not dead.  So I continued to feed and tap on the tank of my dead African Dwarf Frog for a week, alternately hopeful and crying.

I finally let my dad flush Schroeder.  I gave up on him.  I finally allowed the truth of his passing to be my reality.

In my adult life I've googled.  I still have no idea why he was all gross and blubber covered - and it's not Dropsy (bloating) that I've heard about and looked up.  What I did learn was apparently the tank was too big for him: Having the surface be more than 20" from the bottom can cause undue stress on the frog since they're not strong swimmers.  Sorry Schroeder.

So my first frog blew up.  Literally.  


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