SANTA MONICA : Tale of Quake Survivor: A Fish Found After 8 Months

It may be a fish story, but they found a survivor from the Jan. 17 earthquake last Friday.

The charcoal-colored, white-dotted domino damselfish stayed alive alone in a quake-damaged apartment with an evaporating supply of water among the decomposed remains of his tank mates: a handful of other fish and a hermit crab.

"It was incredible," said Theresa Madok, who has adopted the fish from her brother, Robert. "He'd had no food, no filtration, no nothing for eight months."

Robert, along with other residents of the Sea Castle apartments, had been barred from his home because of severe damage. He went back Friday with his sister to collect his things.

Theresa, a tropical fish enthusiast, went to work emptying her brother's prized 60-gallon aquarium. When she got to the gravel, Robert pointed out what looked like a dead fish. Theresa thought it odd that the body was still intact and looked closer. "You could see the little gills going back and forth," she said.

They quickly refilled the tank, hoping that they had not killed the little survivor. After a worrisome hour, it started swimming around.

"When we found him, he was maybe the size of a dime. Now he is the size of a quarter," Theresa Madok said.

"He is now eating flake food with much relish and much enthusiasm. His stomach all pooches out now. It's not so flat like it was before."

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