This time around, at least, I have some experience. As I eyed the latest round of goldfish eggs stuck to the crib holding their month-old (and two-week old) brethren, I weighed my choices. It was too late for preventive measures. I had to decide if I would leave this round to the mercy of their 7-inch parents in their 40-gallon world.
I got out the mixing bowl.
It was a tricky operation, but I dumped the existing fry into the bowl and removed their impending siblings from the outside to the inside of the crib using a baby-food spoon and a cheese knife. I scanned the rest of the tank, but could not see any more eggs. I replaced the crib and all its denizens.
I waited. In the meantime, I also worried about poor Princess, still knocking herself against the filter in vain.
It didn’t take more than another day. The new fry began to emerge. Every egg in the crib hatched. But to my deeper chagrin, dozens of fry had obviously escaped my earlier inspection. What could I do but go after them with the glass measuring cup that was dedicated to the fish tank years ago? (We have an identical measuring cup in the kitchen cupboard and my husband worries that one day, I’ll mix them up.)
By now, I am an expert at the Ambush and Scoop. With most fry clinging to the tank’s sides relatively close to the surface, one can quickly and gently plunge the cup into the water behind them, and the fry are sucked harmlessly in. Then I pour them into the crib. (Whether or not Serious Goldfish Breeders have ever employed this technique does not interest me.)
Instead of working on the essays I wanted to finish, doing the laundry, or watching my Netflix DVD, I spent hours scooping fry. Then I sighed in resignation, unplugged the power cord, and rescued all the babies that had been sucked into the filter.
Seeing that the population of the crib has almost doubled, the problem of Princess came into even sharper focus. When the first batch was hatched I said I can’t handle this ever again, and now that I’m chasing the third, I’d like to say that I really can’t handle this ever again. Princess hates the nunnery, but I’m certainly not risking a co-ed tank.
I went back to the pet store and bought some bits of mesh, plastic and wire that assemble into a “Tank Divider.” This costs $14.99. There are many fish you can buy for this price, but at this time it is necessary for me to spend fifteen dollars to NOT have any more fish.
I thought Princess would be happier if she had more space and was in her accustomed environment. But she is like those sad little lizards at PetSmart who try endlessly to climb the glass fronts of their terrariums. When she is not looking high and low for a weakness at the top, bottom or sides of the divider, she is resting with her lips to the fence.
Sometimes she noses the crib, but no-one in there gives her any comfort. Her erstwhile suitors sometimes visit her on their side of the wall as well as they can. Wherefore art thou egg bearers?
“She’s going to go Free Willy on that thing,” was my husband’s opinion on the Tank Divider. I am just irritated that now I am responsible for three separate food disbursements in a single tank.
Those who know me personally have begun saying “How are the fish?” instead of “How are you?” I tried to sell the world premiere baby photo at the top of this post to US Weekly or People for ten million dollars, but they didn’t want it. To the readers who are enjoying this saga: I will continue to write about my goldfish adventures on one condition. No more caviar jokes.