Last month, my wife and I chaperoned on our kids’ first ever field trip, where one of the venues was a small theme park that also ran a pet store. As a souvenir, each of the participants was given a free goldfish in a bag. Yes! Free fish! we thought.
Who knew free could be so expensive?
We were advised we could wait until the next day to transfer the fish to a new container, since the bag had enough oxygen for 24 hours, and so that the fish could have time to adjust. We got a total of five fish, so we thought of first transferring them to a big fishbowl we had. The first day, one of the fish died, and my kids were devastated. The next day, two more died.
We weren’t really emotionally attached to the fish (they’re fish!), but we thought we might as well give them a good home, since they were given to us in goodwill (although I had a feeling the cost of fish was included in the tour package). So through the week, we found ourselves going crazy researching online about fish care. We discovered a lot of things about caring for goldfish and fish in general. We also realized that we had been doing a lot of things wrong!
Among the things we learned:
- Goldfish need space. They will usually require a ten-gallon tank for the first goldfish and an additional five or so gallons for each additional fish.
- Fish bowls are not ideal for goldfish. Ever see goldfish living in fishbowls on TV or the movies? Don’t be fooled. (One exception, though is Tish, who lived to a ripe old age of 43.)
- Goldfish are messy creatures. They will require a good filtration system.
- Goldfish are vegetarians. If you have aquatic plants, they will nibble and pull on them all day. We learned this the hard way when we found our plants floating all over early one morning.
- Fish need oxygen. We also learned this the hard way. We were wondering why the fish were always on the surface on our fishbowl. Apparently, they were breathing through the surface.
- Fish need a feeding schedule. If you overfeed them, they die.
- Fish need a balanced ecosystem. We also learned that it’s a bad idea to change your tank’s water 100%, and so now we only change about 20 to 25% twice a week.
One good thing we discovered is that my wife and I now have yet another shared passion. We didn’t really spend a lot of money for our aquarium setup, since we borrowed some old equipment and accessories from my in-laws (the expenses totaled to less than $20, but I have a feeling it’s going to grow). But we do get to spend time each day taking care of the fish, feeding them, cleaning their tank, and even observing their strange, fishy behavior.
All this from people who aren’t particularly fond of animals (although I must admit I have an affinity for cats).
You learn new things everyday. What’s surprising is that you get these from the most unexpected of sources.