Confessions of a Goldfish Hobbyist
Written by Anita Hovanesian
Ever since, I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I have been a “dedicated” goldfish keeper. Housing any other variety of fish was out of the question for me until I was given my first pair of guppies. They were of the common variety - ones usually known as “feeder guppies”. Fascination overtook me as I observed the live birth of my first guppy baby and almost immediately I was horrified as the mother turned around and engulfed the helpless little fellow into her hungry jaws.
Well, “This was never going to happen again” I thought. The birth of my fish room began - I purchased several tanks to house the babies and also bought some very colorful swordtails and platies. They multiplied and I developed some very beautiful hybrids from the bunch.
After a few years of Livebearer fascination, I turned back to my golden friends and decided to try hand spawning. I had read a book written by Dr. Axelrod and felt I was now an “expert”. As usual the fish began chasing each other around as they had every spring. The little males displayed their tubercles on their operculum and pectoral rays, and the little girls looked plum as ever. I gently squeezed out some eggs into a pan of water and followed that with a little bit of male milt. The eggs looked good for a few days or so and then all funguses. I was devastated. How could that be? I had done everything by the book, but left out the Methelene Blue Dye.
I moved the goldfish parents into a larger tank and was about to clean their old home when I noticed little creatures hanging on the inside of the glass. As I looked again, I jumped for joy! Goldfish Babies !! But now there was a serious problem - I had nothing to feed them. Everyday the numbers dwindled until I could only locate 2 fry. They were quire robust and even their double caudal fins were now very visible. I presumed they were surviving by eating microscopic worms and planaria - as my housekeeping was not up to par. They grew up to be about 1 inch in length and due to me inexperience, I lost them to some seemingly “incurable” disease.
As the years went by, I was now in my teens and still very much a goldfish hobbyist. I dug a hole in my mother’s backyard, in spite of her very vocal complaints, and laid a plastic liner in it. This pond lasted about 24 hours and due to a puncture at the very bottom was rendered useless. She must have felt sorry for me and allowed me to buy a “real” liner. My first pond was created.
I was afraid to initially put out my goldfish, so I caught a native Bullhead Catfish and placed him into he new home. All went well, but the neighbors kept complaining that there were all kinds of noises near the pond at night. So, I stayed up to see what the problem could be. The Bullhead, around 10PM came up to the surface, and began to noisily slurp at the top of the water. Also on occasion he slapped his tail quite loudly - enough to irritate and soundest sleeper! Well, that could not be tolerated. In came the Bullhead and out went the goldfish.
As I lay in my bed snoozing that night, I heard a loud slosh and then the sound of falling glass. Well, guess who decided to take a walk through my 10 gallon tank - Mr. Bullhead! There he lay among the water and rubble croaking noisily with his mouth and swinging his tail as if to say “Well do something”! (all 13 inches or so of him).
The next morning he took a ride in his bucket back to Jamaica Pond. I continued to keep my goldfish, but sold all of my livebearers. I learned how to raise baby brine shrimp for the goldfish fry and as the years went by - became quite, the hobbyist. I now had 16 tanks, a pond, and several wash basins full of healthy fry. The rest is history - I married and quickly converted my husband into the fish hobby. We joined the BAS and met some wonderful folks who in turn introduced us to Cichlids, Anabantoids, and Corydoras species, some of which I had kept on occasion during the years.
We participated in the BAS growing project (which happened to be baby Angelfish) and did quite well. Out of 6 young fish we miraculously got 3 breeding pairs!!! Folks, you probably can guess the rest. We now have 50 or so tanks - many of which house young angelfish fry at various stages of growth, but I will always have a special spot in my heart for our golden friends - for I truly am a Goldfish Hobbyist!!