We are fish-keepers for a small pond; part of the “big house” landscape. Taking care of the fish, the wild birds, and the dog (before he passed) were part of our routine.
One of my sadder duties is to make sure all the fish are alive. The colder the water becomes, the more turbid the fish. They don’t hibernate, but they slow down, have no appetite, and very little interaction with each other. It’s harder to tell when the water is cold who has passed.
One recent unseasonably warm December day it seemed that “Big Blackie” was destined for the fish graveyard. He lay motionless, his head against the rock sides of the pool. Other fish were in motion, awakened by the beaming sun and a more pleasant water temperature.
Then the most marvelous thing happened. One fish swam over touching Blackie’s head. Then another swam along Blackie’s body. Some sort of fish telepathy caused two to swim by, the motion of the water and their fins rolling Blackie from side to side.
More fish appeared, arranging themselves on either side of Blackie. They pushed him away from the rocks where he lay motionless. The fish swam slowly, pushing and pulling Blackie towards the other side of the pond. By the middle of the pond, he showed a slight response. A weak movement back and forth of the tail, and a short flow of the fins. His companions continued to escort him. By the time the rescue crew arrived at my side of the pond, Blackie had pretty well recovered.
I’ve never seen the fish do this in the 8 years I’ve been watching them. I’ve had to bury several of them in the back garden among the snowball bushes. Thankfully, I didn’t have to bury Blackie that day. His mates in the pond came to his rescue. The survival of the fishiest, no doubt.