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Column: From gardens to goldfish

Published: Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 10:23 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 11:47 a.m. CDT

Hallmark can have its “Christmas in July,” but for me the happiest thing about July and August is the produce from my garden.

Fresh tomatoes; an abundance of zucchini; green peppers; I would add green beans to the list, but we have a problem with underground, tunneling critters that insist on devouring our bean seeds.

These items are what make a hot summer worthwhile.

You can have your sun tan and time at the beach. Me? I’ll be on the back deck relaxing in a wicker rocker, listening to the dull hum of the ceiling fan moving the air, enjoying a sweating glass of iced tea, a juicy red tomato and some cottage cheese while watching our three gold fish swimming in the garden pond.

And speaking of goldfish... it was the weirdest thing.

We have a nice-sized garden pond we built with a couple of waterfalls where we can sit and soak in the tranquil sounds of nature. My grandson likes to hang out beside it as well. (I’m pretty sure most of the rocks settled at the bottom are his.)

We keep goldfish in the pond and we baby those silly fish year ‘round. They aren’t the fancy, expensive fish. We just get the little cheap ones.

Years ago we purchased an aquarium, light, pumps, filters and decorations to provide the fish with a lovely tropical vacation during the winter months when we bring the summer survivors indoors.

However, the three fish that lived through last summer, contrary to the numerous attempts by raccoons to snack on them at night, actually grew large enough that bringing them inside wasn’t an option.

We put a water tank heater in the pond, continued to feed them and they flourished over the winter. Now they’re every bit of six or seven inches long.

So anyway...

A few months back, we decided to add more goldfish.

We purchased about a dozen more teeny-weeny, little 39-cent goldfish and six plecostomus (algae eaters).

We took all the care to acclimate the tiny swimmers to their new environment, floating the air and water-filled bags we brought them home in on the surface of the pond for several hours. When the time came, we released them into the water.

Because we’re sort of low-key people and can be easily amused by the mundane, we watched them dart around in the water along side our much larger, senior fish.

Mick cleans the filters on the pond regularly. But that evening as he went out to rinse them, he told me, “We have a floater.” Our first casualty.

OK, so we expect that. They aren’t all going to be happy and survive the harsh realities of outdoor living.

But everyone else seemed to be scampering about in the water, zipping around the rocks, diving into their fish caves and through the water plants.

The next day ... another dead goldfish. And another. That continued several days until we had only one newbie left.

So I went outside one evening, and low and behold, there he was, our last little goldfish, sunning himself on the surface of the pond... but parts of him were missing. This was not the workings of a raccoon. This had to be an ‘inside’ job.

What in the world?

So I took to Google to find the answer.

I was more than a little surprised when I discovered goldfish are omnivorous and will eat about anything, including juvenile goldfish.

We’d sentenced those little guys to death the second we put them in the water!

Now, I’m not emotionally attached to any fish, but I admit, I did feel bad. I mean, wouldn’t you?

We’ve relinquished the idea of acquiring more goldfish and will be satisfied watching the three cannibals spending their days in our pond.

Oh, wait a minute... we still have six algae eaters we haven’t seen since the day we released them in the pond several months ago. Hmmm ... I wonder...

Contact Dana King at dking@shawmedia.com

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