Ryan Cato will have another soul sleeping in his residence hall from now on. Its name is Floyd.
“We need a companion in our dorms,” the freshman civil engineering major said. “We need a buddy to hang out with.”
And that buddy came in the form of a betta fish on Wednesday night, as more than 500 students crowded the Durrell Center basement for their chance to adopt a gilled friend.
Students living in the residence halls were given the specially ordered fish from Bangkok, Thailand, on a first-come, first-serve basis as part of the “Betta Bowl.”
And turnout was strong.
Clare Ennis, a junior business and pre-dental major who helped organize the event, estimated 50 or more students were turned away.
Because fish are the only pets allowed in the cramped living quarters on campus, students have to leave their beloved animals at home when they come to school.
GUIDE – Gaining Understanding through Involvement in Diversity and Education – attempts to make the transition easier for students by hosting the annual event.
“It’s a great opportunity for residents to have pets,” Ennis said. “It makes their rooms more like home.”
Freshman twins Nicole and Dominique Crespo waited at the entrance of the Durrell Center for an hour and a half to get fish.
Both are self-professed “animal freaks” and are zoology majors. The betta fish will be nice additions to their room but cannot replace their dog and cats at home, the girls said.
“I can’t hug and kiss my betta,” Nicole said, “and it can’t sleep in my bed.”
“It’s a stress thing for me,” Dominique said. “Fish are relaxing.”
Students received a fish bowl with colored rocks and items to decorate it. Puff paint, glitter, stickers and ribbon were available to make a comfortable home for their finned buddy.
Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are among the easiest fish to take care of. However, GUIDE gave students two to three weeks’ worth of food and also information cards to ensure proper care of the red and blue fish.
Aside from feeding them lightly each day and changing their water once a week, only one betta fish should be in each bowl.
A sign at the Betta Bowl read: “If you’re caught fighting your fish, you will face severe consequences.”
Emily Laue, a junior psychology major and event organizer, said GUIDE did all it could to ensure a humane environment for the fish and want to make it clear that fish are not for fighting.
“They’re fish,” Nicole said to the prospect of battling fish. “It’s not that exciting; they just ram into each other.”
Staff writer Heather Hawkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.