Gold stan­dard

Gold­fish take quite the ride be­fore set­tling into a liv­ing room tank

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY BREN­DAN AH­ERN

Four gold­fish press against the side of their spa­cious tank with their eyes fixed on their owner.

“See, they’re beg­ging. They’re beg­ging for food,” said Joan Brown.

Her chair is pulled up near the large tank against the liv­ing room wall. The four fan-tailed gold­fish watch her ex­pec­tantly, but maybe it’s for the best that she doesn’t oblige them.

“They’re al­ways hun­gry,” said Brown, 83. “You can’t fill them but you can kill them by feed­ing them too much.”

She’s speak­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence. Hav­ing owned pet fish since her child­hood, Brown knows a thing or two about look­ing af­ter these or­na­men­tal fish. Some tips in­clude:

■ Feed them food that sinks in the tank in­stead of float­ing on the sur­face so that the fish don’t swal­low air bub­bles along with their meal.

■ Keep the room at about 20 de­grees Cel­sius; any hot­ter might kill them.

■ And never put gold­fish in a bowl.

“You just can’t get a gold­fish and put it in a bowl. Gold­fish can never be in a bowl,” said Brown. “There’s just not enough room. They can’t breathe.”

Fresh­wa­ter trop­i­cal fish like these fan­tailed gold­fish start their life in enor­mous breed­ing ponds on the other side of the globe. Sin­ga­pore is the world’s largest ex­porter of or­na­men­tal fish, but some Cana­dian whole­salers also re­ceive fish from Hong Kong, Nige­ria and also closer to home from Florida and Cal­i­for­nia.

In fact, with 14 whole­salers of or­na­men­tal fish in the coun­try, Canada is the No. 1 des­ti­na­tion for Amer­i­can-bred Gold­fish.

They’re del­i­cate an­i­mals, and con­sid­er­ing how far they have to travel from where they’re born to homes like Brown’s, it’s a won­der any of them sur­vive.

“We ship them in boxes and in­side there are bags filled with gold­fish, water and oxy­gen,” said Kevin Mirdo, of Mirdo Im­por­ta­tions Canada Inc. “They’re in a crate on the plane and we go pick them up at the air­port, then we ship them in in­su­lated trucks.”

And that’s when they get picked up by Doug Arnold of Proud Pets in New Glas­gow. Proud Pets has been in busi­ness since 1993. Arnold’s son, whose also named Doug, is the owner and the two of them have been run­ning the show ever since. They get a new ship­ment of gold­fish ev­ery three weeks.

The bags of gold­fish are taken out of the boxes which are also in­su­lated with Sty­ro­foam. Be­fore the fish are let out of the bag the Arnolds open the tops of the bags and clip each one to the side of the tank.

Two or three days later, when the fish have set­tled into the new water, Arnold calls Joan Brown.

“I call her and tell her to come down and check them out,” said Arnold.

“They’re a nice thing to sit and watch, if you like them,” said Brown. “If you like them they are sooth­ing and calm­ing.”

BREN­DAN AH­ERN/THE NEWS

Joan Brown’s gold­fish live in com­fort af­ter a long jour­ney from their breed­ing grounds

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