The Spawning of a New Era: One Year Later

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.

At one day old, goldfish fry mostly cling to the side of the tank. They look nothing like fish.

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.

Probably not the most humane photo opp, I realize now.

In no time at all, it had been two months since they hatched.

Somebody gave me this casserole dish for my wedding and this is how I used it. The fry had to go somewhere while I cleaned the tank.
The fry began to enjoy what I called egg bombs, which was a piece of hard-boiled egg yolk wrapped in cheesecloth and dunked in the tank.

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.

In case you're wondering, this is how much fish food I have.

Here is Augustus McCrae, (front) the first fish to have a name, always the biggest of the bunch.

Gus continued to grow.
Gus's companion, Woodrow Call.
Lorena Wood.
Nemo.

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.

My fry meet their new friends in the tank at Abington's Tien Thai Pho restaurant.

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.

Yes, someone is always pooping.
Bling (one of two possible fathers) and Augustus.

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.

The one-year-old Woodrow Call settles into his new digs. Note that the fish behind him is actually about six years old.

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.

A furry big brother.

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.

 

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8 Comments

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  1. Having raised a daughter, your goldfish story still seems more stressful! Culling them? I would have a hard time with that too!

  2. Gus and Call are very happy in their new home. Thanks for the solid childhood you provided for them.

  3. Did you cull 99% of them or did you let nature take its own course? I have a few hundred babies ATM but I don’t want to kill them 😦

    • Alaina Mabaso May 6, 2013 — 9:07 pm

      I did not “cull” any. As far as I know, some are still swimming with their adoptive parents. And out of the hundreds of fry I began with, I now have five left. Several have died off over the past two years, of unknown causes, and others just thrived. So they seemed to have culled themselves, somehow. I’ll keep the survivors as long as they live. I’m fairly proud to have raised them! Another note on the “culling”: When he was about a year and a half old, I noticed that one of the survivors has a deformed mouth. He can eat only the smallest pellets of food. But except for the fact that he’s smaller than the other fish, he’s feistier than tons of others that looked more beautiful. He definitely would’ve been culled under the rules of culling, but I’ll keep feeding him the little pellets as long as he wants to stick around.

  4. I don’t believe I could actually cull them at all 😦

  5. i had this happen to me but rarely my fish stay alive and i have one alive and has been for 6 months.

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