Four goldfish press against the side of their spacious tank with unblinking 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, since 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 and, but some Canadian wholesalers also receive fish from Hong Kong, Nigeria, and also closer to home in Florida and California.
In fact, with 14 wholesalers of ornamental fish in the country, Canada is the number one destination for American-bred Goldfish.
They’re delicate animals, and considering how far they have to travel from the where they’re born to homes like Brown’s, it’s a wonder any of them survive the long journey.
“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.”
Mirdo recives fish from anywhere in the world that breeds them. A lot of their stock comes from Asia, but they also receive shipments from south of the border. Then it’s on to those special temperature-controlled trucks and off to the East Coast.
And that’s where 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 3 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. “They are soothing and calming.”