Rufus the Fish – Rosemead, California - Atlas Obscura
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Rosemead, California

Rufus the Fish

This 38-year old fish almost became a casualty of changing trends but has been saved by his fans. 

Before it closed, the Rosemead, California restaurant and tiki lounge Bahooka had hundreds sea creatures among its 110 backlit aquariums, but none was so beloved as the long-lived, and huge, Pacu fish named Ruffus (sic).

Among the sharks, goldfish, and countless other aquatic beasts that gave Bahooka its kitschy island feel, none was more well-known than Rufus (as the common spelling goes) the Fish, which makes sense given that he has been pacing the same eight foot long tank for 38 years. Over his decades of swimming along as eaters and drinkers passed his blue-tinted glass cage Rufus managed to grow to a whopping five feet long, and picked up the curiously specific habit of eating only carrots. The idiosyncratic animal was an icon among the Rosemead neighborhood locals and was even featured in the background of a number of movies.

Unfortunately Rufus’ notoriety could not save Bahooka from closing as the appeal of tiki-themed establishments waned. The restaurant officially shutdown in 2013 leaving Rufus’ fate up in the air. The restaurant’s former fish keeper continued to bring old Rufus his carrots in the empty eatery as the property changed hands, but none of the new owners seemed interested in keeping the local celebrity around. However thanks to a campaign by Hidden LA’s Lynn Garrett, a fundraising campaign was started to relocate Rufus, spurred on by the Twitter hashtag #saverufus. As interest in Rufus’ story grew and donations poured in, the current property holder finally took notice of the old fish’s popularity (and marketability), and they finally stated that Rufus could stay as location opened under a new business.

The restaurant currently on the site is allegedly devoid of fish tanks. As of 2016, Rufus’ location is unknown.