Skittles Watch 2006: Death of Cheeto

by janet on October 9th, 2006

At the L.A. County Fair, I won two goldfish as presents for James. I named them Cheeto and Fryloaf, but then Fryloaf got renamed “Skittles” by James because he is a skittish motherfucker. It’s very appropriate. This is the story of their lives so far.

After being saved from the trashed out lady at the goldfish booth, poor Cheeto and Skittles had to be sloshed around in their portable fish tank and schlepped around the fair as we went on our penguin-rescuing mission. Little did we know that to save a penguin (actually a mom and a baby), one of the brave goldfish would have to pay the ultimate price…

But first, the fishies had to endure a harrowing journey in their pink prison-tank on the car ride home. Poor little guys. Loyal CM readers will remember that I didn’t have fish food so I put little crumbs of bread (specifically, Sara Lee multigrain WHITE bread – that shit is gooood!) in their tank. They didn’t recognize it as food, though, so the crumbs sank to the bottom and generally made a muck of things in the tank.

The next morning, despite our fears that they would die in the night, I woke to find them both alive! Life triumphs over death! They both looked pretty despondent though, just chillin’ at the bottom of the tiny tank with their fallen breadcrumb bretheren.


Skittles (front) and Cheeto (back) in their portable dungeon (notice the breadcrumb brigade).


Cheeto’s a cute little mofo.


Skittles with his gorgeous fancy-schmancy black-tipped tail.

The situation was getting desperate. It looked like they were gasping for breath (I would too if I had to live underwater) so I made it my top priority to get a real tank and real food from PetCo, where the pets go.

…except I was really busy on Sunday so I put it off to Monday.

Then, on Monday afternoon: the fateful text message from James:

James to Janet: One of goldfish died!

SHIT! My negligence had caused the end of a (albeit small and arguably insignificant) life!

Janet to James: Oh no! Which one??
James to Janet: I can’t tell!
Janet to James: Was it the one with the black on his tail?
James to Janet: No
Janet to James: Cheetoooooo!

Cheeto had fallen, and I had to do right by Skittles. So I rushed through rush hour and went to PetSmart to get fish supplies. It was here that I discovered that my indecision in ordering at restaurants also carries over into fishfood indecision. Actually, my whole trip at PetSmart was a disaster.

First, I had to decide which tank to get. I could get a regular bowl, which would be cute and would be OK for a single fish. But I was thinking that I should replace Cheeto to make James feel better, but then I would need a real tank. So my tank decision was contingent on the fish decision. I went to the enormous selection of goldfish, and I got overwhelmed there, too. So I decided to forget the second fish, but I still thought it would be good to get a real tank. BUT, some of the tanks came with starter supplies (rocks, water treatment, fishfood) while others didn’t (but still came with an air pump and light). GAR. I finally settled on the Top Fin Aquascene 1 Aquarium Kit, that came with light and pump, on sale for ELEVEN BUX! Woot! (I was tempted by the Sponge Bob aquarium kit but it was expensive).

So then I had to pick out water conditioner (here again – was I supposed to buy “water conditioner” or “tap water conditioner,” since I would be using tap water?) and then some leafage (did Skittles need a big shell to hang out in too? What about a treasure chest?), and then a net for good measure. Oh, and can’t forget the rocks at the bottom! Oh, except there are about 368 different colors of rocks. At this point my soul was pretty defeated, and I really did decide for about three minutes that I didn’t need this added burden in my life, and that maybe Skittles just needed to die and we would put this chapter behind us.

But then I rallied, dumped everything into my cart, and checked out.

However, the indecision monster didn’t quite leave me alone, and I noticed a PetCo down the street. What if they had better fishtanks? Perhaps Sponge Bob was on sale there??? So I pulled into the parking lot, cursed my neurotic self, and ran in to see what they had.

Luckily, PetCo was way more expensive than PetSmart for the same shit, so I came running back out. I jumped in the car and screeched out into traffic and jetted to James’.

I put the aquarium together, put in the water, scooped Skittles out (Cheeto was unceremoniously floating on top of the water, ewww), and dumped him into the new aquarium. Holy freaking freak out. Skittles went crazy like a moth on meth (I just made that up). We fed him in a hurry, but he ignored it and kept swimming around. We decided that we need to do some operant conditioning with him, and decided to turn on the aquarium light every time right before we feed him so that he knows what’s up.

So now it’s several weeks later, and Skittles has settled down nicely. He likes to hang out in the southwest corner of his fishtank and look at his own reflection. He still freaks out occasionally when you make sudden movements, but otherwise he is a very obedient fish. As soon as the light turns on he swims up to the little feeding-hole in the corner and makes chewing faces. Cute. The tank looks quite lovely in the dark, and the hum hum of the water filter is nice white noise.

The only problem is…Skittles is slowly turning black. Compare this photo to the one above, and I apologize for the hideous blurriness – the camera is new and I am too lazy to figure out how to increase the shutter speed. Oh, wait, maybe this newfangled “Focal Black and White” filter will throw you guys off of the terribleness of the pic:

Not fooled by the cheesy Picasa tomfoolery? Fine. Here are some better pictures that James took.

Apparently this is called THE BLACK SMUDGE and no one really knows why it happens. Some say it is ammonia burn (poor Skittles!) caused by dirty water. His water is pristine, though, so perhaps it’s an aftermath of the original, smaller “tank?” Who knows. All I know is that Skittles is lucky we aren’t conservative racist parents who would kick him out for becoming black.

But seriously – is this the same fish we started out with??? Very curious. It doesn’t seem to be affecting his health, though, so I will just be psyched that I got a special hypercolor goldfish that has camoflauge capabilities. In fact, I’m very happy with my new little friend. He is cute and fun to look at but easily ignorable – the perfect addition to my life.

So sleep tight, little Skittles, and please do not die soon or else James will cry.

6 Responses to “Skittles Watch 2006: Death of Cheeto”

  1. simon says:

    hooray for skittles! he is most likely becoming black to match your soul is all.

    it would be interesting to see you introduce another fish at this point. would they fight and would skittles win?

    i think so. i truly do.

  2. sylvia says:

    hahaha >> simon’s comment.

    i think mr skittles looks cooler with the blackness.
    and it’s way too cute that he gets excited n ready for food when you turn on the light. operant conditioning ftw!

    yes ive turned into a geek :'(

  3. […] Skittles Watch 2006: Death of Cheeto. The story of the beloved fish Skittles, rescued from the LA County Fair. Relive the saga of the death of Cheeto, the building of Skittles’ new home, and the dreaded BLACK SMUDGE! […]

  4. […] Several people (2) have asked for another update on Skittles. […]

  5. […] I don’t know why I didn’t know this already, but fish…swim. So it’s very difficult to take photographs of them. I should have remembered from Skittles, but I think I repressed it. So I ended up taking photographs of fish that didn’t move or photographs of photographs (see top). Also, I apologize that I retained none of the information about the creatures that I photographed. Hopefully you will be satisfied with some anthropomorphizing. […]

  6. […] Skittles’ little life: We rescue Skittles and Cheeto from the L.A. County Fair. Skittles loses/kills his best buddy and gets a new home. Skittles battles THE BLACK SMUDGE and wins. Skittles being wriggly and cute. Skittles and The Return of THE BLACK SMUDGE. Skittles’ last days. […]

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