Wednesday, January 8, 2014

George the Giant Goldfish Who Also is Not Gold

Today was a big day.
First of all, school actually started again, after two extra days of polar vortex related Christmas Vacation. (the children thank you, arctic jet stream. Our pipes, however, and my brave husband who had to spend the day under the house thawing them out, do not.)

Also, Mr. George moved into his new home.

Mr. George, the goldfish who is not gold. He once was gold, but has faded to very shiny silver.

He joined us over four years ago, when my mom kindly gave my little son an old desktop fish tank that had been sitting around in the garage, and I stupidly let him pick out whatever fish he wanted at the pet store. He picked a little comet goldfish from the feeder tank, one with a black stripe down his back. He was barely an inch and a half long. My son carried him home, beaming in his little car seat, holding the bag as carefully as if it were a glass egg. Picking his name was very serious business, but by the time we arrived home, the fish was christened George, after a tractor from Thomas the Tank engine. George was set up in a place of honor in the living room, right beside the sofa. Little son gave me updates all day, as to George's activities, his eating habits, where he liked to swim in his little tank.

Now I know the rule about fish habitation. Especially goldfish. There's no such thing as a goldfish bowl. They need a tank. A big whopping tank. But my kid was so dang cute when he was four, and he really wanted the stripey fish, and who would have thought he'd pick the hardiest little goldfish in the whole Petsmart? I consider myself fairly optimistic, but I wasn't about to invest in a five hundred dollar set up for a fish that might not live out the week. But George was a trooper.

He outgrew his little 2 gallon tank in a matter of months. We moved him up to 5 gallons. That lasted over a year, and then it was clearly time to get him into yet another, bigger tank.

This time, when we went to the pet store to look for new tanks - after having the fish for two years, remember - I finally asked the In Charge of Fish Guy how big they get, and how long they live.
"These guys?" he asked, as I pointed to the tank of tiny, minnow sized comet goldfish. "Well, they're carp. They can live about 30 years. And they can get to be 12-16 inches long."


But by now, of course, we were quite attached to our man George. So we moved him from his little 5 gallon studio into a 20 gallon ranch, with Real Live Plants that George quickly devoured. This is his Favorite Thing. He eats all live plants put in his home. If he doesn't like the taste, he simply pulls off all the leaves and digs them out of the rock. Even the plants that In Charge of Fish Guy insisted goldfish won't eat. George, it seems, is part goat. We got him a moss ball. He chewed that apart. At least he seemed to have fun doing it. He loves to eat shelled peas and corn. He darts about the tank, snapping them up like a little shark. He's learned to beg for food when he sees my husband Ben. He swims right up to the corner of the tank, and always gets rewarded.

All this feeding is probably what contributed to George's other habit, which is growing. He lost his black stripe, and became solid gold. Then he lost his gold, and became shiny white and silver. And he just kept growing.

He's now roughly 8" long, from snout to fin. Hold up your hand sideways, with your fingers flat. That's about the size of his fish body. I have caught bluegill and pumpkin seeds smaller than George,  in the lake near our house. For the past few months, it's been rather obvious that Mr. George needed a bigger tank. Today, George's new home was finally ready for him to enjoy. He's now moved up from his 20 gallon ranch to a 44 gallon mansion.

Sonny Boy and George, moving day #3

Sonny Boy and George, moving day #4 
The next step is we just have to turn the house into a fish tank, and we live in a bubble in the center. Whatever we have to do for our Mr. George.


Leandra Wallace said...

Wow! He picked a carp, that's awesome! Here's to a long prosperous life, Mr. George. :)

Mina Burrows said...

"30 years. And they can get to be 12-16 inches long" ---What? That's crazy. What we do for our children!

Cute post! :)

Lily Cate said...

Yeah. Seriously. That fish could still be alive when I'm a grandmother. We all love him, though. He gets talked to in a smooshy wooshy voice, and sometimes it's a fight over who gets to feed him.