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© Joan Currie

I think there’s something great and generic about goldfish. They’re everybody’s first pet. – Paul Rudd

My youngest daughter bought a feeder fish from Walmart over three years ago. Pepper was named after her childhood pet that had the misfortune of being cannibalized by a larger tank mate. This Pepper has turned out to be a particularly hardy fish. He survived a journey to San Diego from the Bay Area sloshing about in five ounces of water in a Starbucks coffee cup, nine days without food when my daughter was evacuated from the city due to raging wildfires, and a multitude of odd-sized bowls and aquatic environments. He is now over three inches in length and happily swims (backwards mostly) in a large aquarium surrounded by lovely rainbow ornaments.

I’m still baffled that some feeder fish are so fragile that they die within minutes of leaving the pet store and others, like Pepper, thrive for years despite one insult after the other.