Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Saga of Rocky the Goldfish

A couple nights before Christmas Wyler's nursery leaders brought him a gold fish, with a note "We fish you a merry Christmas!" We went and got a gallon tank, and a two other goldfish as tank mates.  Wyler and James were pretty thrilled to find the fish when they woke up.  The smallest fish, the one from the nursery leaders, was promptly named Pebble (a feeder fish), and the other two (both fantails) were named Rocky and Boulder.

By the end of the first week poor Pebble went the way of the toilet.

A week and a half, or two, later Boulder started to develop black gills.  Within about two days of his gills turning black he too was flushed.

I did some research as to why Boulder's gills turned black, and I discovered it was due to ammonia poisoning.  I had a way too small tank for just one fish, let alone three.  And all tanks need to cycle to become an ideal environment for fish.  Cycling is where the ammonia breaks down into nitrites, then that eventually turns to nitrates.  The nitrates help turn the waste/ammonia into nitrates so the water doesn't turn toxic.  And the cycling process can take up to 6-8 weeks to happen.  Many people use fish to speed the process up, as their waste fills the tank water with ammonia.  Unfortunately the process is bound to kill the fish, so people usually use cheaper, hardier fish to do the job.
I got a little testing kit to help me make sure the water didn't turn too toxic for Rocky, but toxic enough that it would cycle.

Finally, about 8 weeks later (aka last week), the tank was almost all the way cycled.  Rocky had survived the long, difficult, toxic process.  Rocky survived the process that killed his tank mates.  We decided we named him well, Rocky the Fighter.

Night before last I came into the kitchen to see the fish tank had been overturned, and there was no sign of Rocky.  I quickly ushered the culprit (who I previously constantly had to keep pulling his hands out of the tank) out of the kitchen, grabbed a couple bath towels to throw on the main water mess, then started to hunt down Rocky.

It took a minute or two, and I had no idea how long it had been since he was dumped out of his tank.  I found him under the stand we keep his tank on.  Yep, he was going to be flushed.  Just laying there, not even flopping.

But wait... his gills are moving...  He's alive!!

I picked him up as quickly and gently as I could, ran across the kitchen and got him in a cup of water until I could get his tank set up again.

He survived being out of water for 2.5+ minutes, being stuck in a cup of cold water, barely big enough to turn around in, then put in a bigger bowl of cold water, then being moved back to his tank of slightly warmer water.  I was afraid the shock of all that would do him in for sure.

I don't think I've ever seen him as active as he has been since the accident.  It took a near death experience for him to realize how awesome life is I guess.

Now lets hope he survives the next 8 weeks of his tank re-cycling...

Then after we have moved and settled into our next house we will get the proper size tank for him.  So hopefully he will survive that tank being cycled...


  1. Wow, Carolyn! I can only say life is REAL! Good grief. All for a fish.

    1. Wyler has been very concerned about Rocky for the past few weeks when he realized Rocky's mom wasn't in the tank with him. And then the tank dumping...

    2. Fish are amazing- that is such a fun story! I had a Beta fish once in a vase under a plant. I was trying to change out some of the water and decided to carefully dump out some of the water instead of trying to fish him out first - I had done it many times before and he seemed to always stay in the vase. But this time he decided not to fight it and was carried away with the water, down the disposal (not turned on). I freaked, I was panicked and couldn't think or move for quite a bit. I hate touching fish... yick! But I had to do it for this guy, I reach down the disposal and tried to gently grab hold of him but I could feel him being squished and smooshed... I was afraid just the act of trying to get him out would kill him. He was so slippery I had to get a little more rough than I would have liked to get him out. I finally did, saw his gills still moving, and quickly put him back into the water- he lived another year... I was so proud of him!