An Embarrassment of Fishes: The Thrill of Peas.

This post is one in an ongoing series about my goldfish fry, hatched in March/April 2011. 

Here I was, thinking that I’d better not go on boring everyone with tales of my fish. But my mother tells me that her co-workers are asking her how my fish are doing, for lack of news on the blog. And they’re not the only ones asking.

My mom’s a busy woman. So am I, for that matter. We could be discussing any career leads you might have for me, or where to go for lunch, instead of the fish.  So it’s time for an update.

The view from above.

Though the first hatchlings are nearing three months old, my mother met her “great-grand fish” for the first time yesterday. Living in a different state and working 70-hour weeks are no excuse for not visiting the fry.

After deep worries about a concerted die-off (combined with guilty relief that I would need  fewer adoptive parents), the casualties have dropped considerably. From tiny snips of thread  with eyes, the oldest fry have blossomed with fins, tails, gills, and just in the last week  or two,  scales with an iridescent glint. If I had to make a guess as to how many have survived, I’d put it around 50 (numbers were never my strong point, and they don’t exactly  line up to be counted). As tails come in, the babies’ mixed heritage is clear: some sport their  fathers’ fancy double fantail, and some have their comet goldfish mother’s long, sleek, single  tail.

2-month-old fantail on the left, three-month old comet on the right.

(Prospective owners: feel free to start thinking now about which variety you’d prefer. The fantail fathers have prettier coloring, but no-one beats the comet mother for sheer size, orangeness, appetite, grace, speed and splashes.)

The fry remain in the two-gallon kitchen tank, but at the current rate of growth, I’ll need a bigger one soon. Maybe even two. God knows where they will go.

Tragedy struck today when I did a partial water change in the small tank. After weeks of no filter-related casualties, six of the largest fry must have been sucked into the filter in the last day or two. When I opened the filter to clean it today, three of the victims were floating. The others were hastily released back into the general population, but I felt a crushing remorse that three fish had made it so far only to perish in the filter. One of them had an unusually shaped tail – over the last week or two I had been contemplating giving him a name – quite a step, for a girl with so many fish.

I fit cheesecloth over the filter intake tube and apologized profusely to the survivors.

In the large tank, things settled down a lot with the start of summer. Princess pined for several weeks behind the divider, hardly taking her eyes off the boys to eat. But a few weeks ago I risked a reunion. Nobody seemed to have the faintest memory of the activities that led to such a surfeit of fish.

The only real problem I’ve had recently with the big fish tank happened during one of this month’s partial water changes. I often put movies on while I clean the tank. While I loaded one into the DVD player, the siphon I use to clean the gravel flooded its bucket. Only after everything was under control did I notice that the DVD remote was in my hand, soaking wet.

The remote lost all function. Later, it was able to turn the DVD player on and off. Finally, as if it just needed time to recuperate, it returned to full working order (I kept hoping and checking, because I didn’t want to admit that I had ruined the DVD remote without really being sure of how I did it, other than it had something to do with the fish tank).

I think the fry have outgrown the First Bites fish food. Like their parents (and animals everywhere), they want to tear ravenously at something delicious.  Nibbling the algae on the plant at every moment they are not being fed doesn’t cut it. So I skinned a pea, squashed it slightly, and dropped it in. Mad with vegetable lust, the fry whipped their tiny bodies back and forth, dragging the pea across the floor of the tank with their mouths.


And so, every few days, I stand in my kitchen, exclaiming, one might think, to no-one: “Who wants some peas?!”

Two months ago.
Last month.
This month.


Add yours →

  1. Delightful! Thanks for the update.

  2. Is it safe to feed peas to fish? I want to try it but I am scared of killing my adult fish…

    • From what I know, skinned peas can actually be an effective remedy for some kinds of abdominal problems that cause sideways swimming, etc (when the imbalance is due to a simple digestive blockage and not an infection) – I think the fiber in the peas is beneficial. I sometimes feed them when my fish are healthy too, figuring that maybe peas could help maintain health. Anyway, my fish seem to like them, and the babies and adults have enjoyed many a pea with no ill effects.

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