An Embarrassment of Fishes: And Then There Were 43

Goldfish fry at five months.

If you’re new to the blog and want to catch the beginning of the goldfish fry saga, here’s the original post

Since the momentous day of their hatching on March 31st 2011, the fry have been growing in size and shrinking in numbers, and that’s probably best for everyone involved.

During the latest cleaning of the babies’ two tanks, I counted every fish for the very first time since they were hatched. For weeks I had estimated that the population had dropped below fifty, which is much easier to count to than two or three hundred. After scooping the residents into their clean tanks two and three at a time, I learned that exactly forty fry remain. I know it’s been an interesting year when I count 43 live fish in my apartment and then breathe a sigh of relief that there are so few.

What a pretty pair!

My acceptance of the natural decline in the fry population does by no means imply that I have failed to nurture them to the best of my ability. When I went to the beach for a week in August, I worried that no-one else would care for them all properly while I was away. So I put them in a bucket, packed their equipment, and we all rode down to the shore together.

As several fish manuals warned me, feeding all of these fish is quite a project. Today I decided to find out just how many kinds of fish food I possess.

You have to understand, some of these I have purchased out of necessity, and some of them I have because Santa Claus, having got wind of my hobby, now puts fish food in my Christmas stocking. Some of these I purchased because after reading the labels in the pet store, I became convinced that they would transport my fish to a kind of gustatory nirvana (did you know that goldfish taste things with their lips?) while increasing their health, appetite and color. Eight times out of ten, the fish don’t seem to care that I’ve purchased a special treat for them, when there are the daily Medium Pellets to be had.

With so many different fish to feed, it’s natural that I must take different tastes into account. Some goldfish prefer to feed from the bottom of the tank, some prefer to nibble from the surface of the water. Some goldfish go gaga for algae and some do flips for brine shrimp. So I’m justified in having enough fish food to open my own shop. Right?

I just remembered that there is packet of frozen brine shrimp in my freezer that didn’t make it into the photo.

About a month ago, the babies reached the important milestone of noticing me through the glass, and wriggling desperately lest I pass the tank without feeding them.

Shopping at the farmer’s market one day, it occurred to me that it’s no wonder we’re conditioned to feed our goldfish freeze-dried pellets from small plastic cans. Nowadays, how much human food comes dried or frozen in cardboard containers? But we need fresh food, and (who knew?) so do the fish.

arrr, matey...actually it's not an eye patch, some of the fish just have one black eye.

Now, despite the pantry of fish food crowding my shelves, I have begun tossing a bit of whatever I’m cooking into the fry tanks. Apple, egg, chicken, ground beef, vegetables – they tear into it all like tiny, toothless Great Whites. I purposely neglect to clean their plastic plants, because they love to eat the algae on them between feedings.

For goldfish, the food options don’t end there. To be honest, the babies’ current separation into two tanks, one for the little ones and one for the bigger ones, was not entirely due to space considerations.

Let me warn my more sensitive readers that they might not like what comes next.

One morning a few weeks ago, I woke up to discover that the biggest fry had the smallest fry’s tail sticking out of his mouth. I immediately thumped on the glass, in the manner strictly forbidden by all respectable aquarium stores, and the big fish spat out the small fish, which swam hurriedly away.

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5 Comments

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  1. haha kinda funny how you corrected that fish :’)

  2. Just read your goldfish saga…let me tell you it is worse with a pond! I have literally hundreds of the little sex crazed buggers and every time there is a change in the weather they are at it again like, well, goldfish. I am now ordering food in 5kilo bags. The worst of it is I don’t want them to go to anything but ‘good’ homes…how crazy is that?

    • Thank you for this!! Nearly everyone in my life, including my own mother and husband, has made it their business to counsel me to get rid of the fish any way I can, including A) dumping them in the creek or B) passing them to the pet store as feeder fish. But I can’t stand the thought of sending them off to be food when I’ve nurtured them for half the year (not to mention all the effing money I’ve spend on their care). I am trying to find them all good homes, just like you!

      I am already dreading next spring. What if they’re at it again? I’ll have to set up the tank barrier as soon as the snow melts. I am NOT doing another round of this, but that doesn’t mean I won’t dispose of this year’s fish responsibly. I think I may keep up to five for myself.

  3. A kindred spirit, have you looked at my blog with the post about the big goldfish who died? just click on my picture! Maybe you can separate the males and female?

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