Many of you have been following the story since my goldfish unexpectedly hatched a few hundred fry almost exactly a year ago. Here’s a visual finale of sorts.
I didn’t know it at the time, but on the day our goldfish fry hatched, my husband made a video. I didn’t know he was filming while I was on the phone to a singularly unhelpful aquarium store, whose staffer intimated that he might be willing to give me advice if I came into his store, but wasn’t interested in telling me anything over the phone.
Here, for the first time, are the fry at just a few hours old, while I, a concerned and ignorant fish mother, am antagonized by an unsympathetic world.
Once I assembled the right equipment, for the first month or so, my main problem was that parents kept spawning. If you ever wondered what goldfish eggs look like, here you go. You can actually see the tiny fish curled up inside. At that point they’re mostly eyeballs and a spine.
But they quickly left their infancy behind:
At this point I was reading a bunch of fish care books that said I should “cull” 99% of the fry. So I was pretty stressed out, given my reluctance to kill the babies (the books didn’t say how I should do it) and my simultaneous knowledge that I would NEVER be able to find that many homes for goldfish.
The illusion that the fish were my children was reinforced by products like the net breeder, which was basically an underwater playpen, that my husband and I had to assemble.
I blinked and the fish were one month old.
In no time at all, it had been two months since they hatched.
At about three months, the fry discovered the joy of peas, which I carefully shelled and squashed for them.
At this point, summer vacation intervened, and rather than trust anyone else with my babies, I packed their tank and they rode in a bucket with me to the Jersey shore for a week. I should’ve taken some pictures.
I took more pictures when they were about five months old.
Here is Augustus McCrae, (front) the first fish to have a name, always the biggest of the bunch.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for my friends who were already bothered enough with offers of goldfish), Nemo was among many fry who bit the gravel. Like many other batches of animals born by the hundreds, not every goldfish fry that hatches will make it.
At eight months, seven of the largest were ready to go their new home. I put them in a jar for the ride.
Meanwhile, back at home, the remaining survivors, who have gone from the playpen in the big tank to several months in their own two-gallon tank, go back into their parents’ tank.
One month later, my childhood art teacher, still a friend today, adopts six of the fry.
The promises of a few other friends to adopt turn out flakier than fish food, but it’s ok. Goldfish are quite a responsibility, I’ve learned. I’ve had my oldest ones for about eight years and they have moved with me no less than eight times. Cleaning a 40-gallon tank is no picnic, their equipment and materials are expensive, and every time I go out of town I have to set up these irritating battery-powered feeders.
And then, Mom decides that she wants a few – Gus and Call, in particular. So, for her 52nd birthday (and Gus and Call’s first), I bring them in a bucket. By the time Gus and Call arrive at their new tank, they are extremely well-traveled goldfish, having visited four states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
Mom already has four goldfish known as The Wedding Fish. When I got married five years ago, she decided that goldfish would make a charming centerpiece for the tables. Four of them survived the reception and the day after the wedding, I bought a tank for them. They’ve lived at my parents’ house ever since.
So there you have it. Seven fry are left. A few are still available for adoption if you’re serious about fish. A year after they hatched, I sometimes still stop to reflect on the bizarre fact that one night last year, I went to bed with three fish and woke up with three hundred.
Here’s a video from this week, featuring both the original culprits and their remaining progeny in some excellent pellet-gulping action.
For those who haven’t been in on it from the beginning and want the whole story, visit The Goldfish Fry Saga category and scroll to the bottom for the first post.