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Western Walkabout: A Pet Fish

Richard Harris tells of a pet fish called Jaws.

I had a lovely little galaxid, a native West Australian freshwater minnow, that I caught with a scoop net on the upper reaches of the Canning River.

He used to live in my old swimming pool in the back garden and would dart to the surface for treats, then dart back down to the depths again. A most handsome little fish.

I called him Jaws. On those rare occasions when it rained, the rainwater ran off the patio roof and dripped into the pool.

Jaws would leap up to the surface and dance with joy among the bubbles.

Rain must have been a breeding trigger for him. He was about the size of a small trout and his delight in the rain was clear to all who witnessed his behaviour.

One day I missed him. It had been raining lightly.

“Where’s Jaws?” I wondered.

I went back into the house and under the dining table noticed a small dark-brown cigar shape. I bent to pick it up off the carpet.

It was Jaws. He had danced once too often in front of the cat, who had hooked him out and brought him inside to play with.

She doesn’t like raw fish and made no attempt to eat him.

I ran outside to the pool but could not revive him, pushing him back and forth in the shallow end. The last I saw of him, a large jilgie – a native freshwater lobster, had seized him by the tail and had dragged him under a rock to devour him at leisure.

Mother Nature wastes nothing.


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