The Fishies. Oh, the Fishies.

I am a fish killer. I'd rather not be, I don't want to be, but the fact remains that I really am. I can't keep a goldfish alive for anything, but once I put in a pond I decided that I needed goldfish anyway. Goldfish are hardy little buggers that will overwinter in a Pennsylvania pond, and cost a whooooole lot less than koi.

I made the mistake of buying koi the first year I had the pond. After paying $20 for one fish (give me a minute while I choke on that information all over again), it had the audacity to die within a month. (See: I am a fish killer.) After that tragic wallet shock, I went to Walmart and bought goldfish at the low, low cost of $1.48 per fish. (Seriously, weren't they a quarter at some point? Not too long ago?)

Those fish lasted a week or two. I don't blame the quality of fish, or the fact that you get what you pay for. Until the pond got established, it was hard to regulate things. And Micah didn't help. Tossing dogs into the water wasn't good for anyone involved. Dogs kicking the filter off the pump didn't do the fish any good. That was a day that will be remembered as The Ultimate Fish Killing Day Of All Time. Suffice it to say, it was unpleasant. Those poor, poor fish.

It was about this time that a friend tipped me off to the feeder fish at the pet store. We can get 10 for $1, and they're all purty like goldfish. Sure, they're only an inch long when I get them, but given the mortality rate of fish in my pond, small and next-to-free is better than bigger and costly. After several rounds of 20 fish at a time, I think I finally got things stabilized enough to keep fish alive.


One fish from the very first crop I bought last spring managed to live while the rest all died. I replaced the others a few times, and somehow we ended the summer with fish that were still alive. Given that we had a mild winter, they lived. (Not that our winters are too cold; it's more like I'm not dedicated enough to keep three feet of snow off a pond, and an air hole broken through the ice.) I counted 5 fish the other week. How awesome is that?!

And then we got a really heavy rain. The pond became a cloud of brown mud. I couldn't see fish unless they were at the surface. What fun is a pond if you can't see fish? So I cleaned it. I drained the water, scooped the fish out, scooped mud and rocks and golf balls and airsoft pellets and a golf club out of the bottom of the pond, and put the fish back in after I filled it. One fish was found dead (the pretty one, of course) but that left 4 alive. And the water is clear, so I can see them all the time. Awesome.

The best part is the fact that one of those inch-long fish (the one that lived all of last summer) is now almost as long as my hand. He's bigger than you'd buy at Walmart for $1.48. He's a trooper, he is. Which just means that the pond cleaning will probably be his undoing and he'll go belly-up next week sometime.

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