We have a very small pond in our backyard with goldfish and koi. The largest
fish are about 12 inches, there are two that size, we call them "Fat Boys." The
pond and its inhabitants are an on-going education. With a little care I've been
able to observe all sorts of behavior, including sleep. I guess I never really thought
about fish sleeping, but they do.
We had a sick goldfish, an orange thing about 6 inches long. I've learned only
lately what I should have been looking for, but in this case it was pretty obvious.
The fish had its eyes wide open, was alert, but was laying flat on its side. No
red spots, no white 'ick', no blood streaks in the fins. After a day of watching
that, I took some water out of the pond, and put water and fish into a large
plastic dishpan. In the house it came and resided first in my kitchen sink, then
on the cupboard along side.
I knew the fish needed oxygen, so the first day or two I added cold water to
oxygenate the water. By the end of day two, we had a 'bubbler' to produce
proper oxygen. The few days later, a small aquarium with a filter was installed.
We decided since we would have the pond and fish for the foreseeable future it
would be good to have a 'hospital' - and most fish people do recommend
isolating any new fish prior to adding them to an established pond.
The fish was named. Dangerous to do. Fred was not able to stay upright, so
I wet my hands carefully and placed two glasses side-by-side in the tank with
enough space to prop Fred up between them. Our friend Tom at Pet S' Mart
recommended a natural medicine, an anti-bacterial which I added daily as
directed. Tom suspected Fred's problem was overeating, which had allowed
a bacterial infection.
Fred was not strong enough to resist being propped back up from time to time,
which in truth I had no basis except instinct to do. It just seemed the right thing.
I was concerned about removing his natural 'overcoat' of slime and was very
careful handling him.
The recommended length of treatment was ten days. Fred was getting stronger,
and now bumped my hand with his nose when I propped him up and tried to
keep him from slipping out from between the glasses. On day eleven, Fred
was swimming around the tank, doing laps.
After several laps Fred swam between the glasses, and went to sleep! One time
might be coincidence, but he repeated the behavior many times. We kept him
in the house a couple more days before putting him back in the pond.
This is hardly a scientific study, but I'm convinced Fred recognized a safe place.
That of course could be part of his instinct too, but 2 glasses aren't natural habitat.
I may be off the edge here, but I think Fred also recognizes me. If I am out by
the pond, he swims up and toward me. He could be looking for a hand-out, but
if that was the case the rest of his pond buddies would be there too. (Well, actually
the Koi do expect food when I show up.)
Over the years we've learned a lot about fish behavior, their habitat, what they
eat and when. It is essential if one is to catch fish! But it seems every time I
spend observing the pond and the fish I learn something new. One in particular - the
differences between a sipping of food from the surface and the slash and run.
The sipping is more prevalent on overcast days, the slash in bright sun - the same
food presented in the same way.
Isn't learning really grand? ~ LadyFisher
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