Sunday, August 05, 2007

Some of your goldfish-related questions answered.

I've been feeling kind of guilty about the number of hits I get from goldfish-related search phrases put into Google. Usually, these are folks who have phrased their question rather inappropriately, as discussed here. Others are just too bizarre; I still get regular searches for goldfish swallowing fetish (I really don't want to know, thanks).

However, I thought it was time I tried to answer some of the genuine goldfish-related queries that have inadvertently lead people here.

What might a goldfish have to complain about?

I only look at Sitemeter from time to time and I've seen this several times over the last couple of years. I imagine it must be an essay set for school Key Stage 2 Existential Philosophy. I guess the question is meant to enable the student to consider the unique nature of the human experience, to attempt to define what makes one human with particular focus on our ability to change things we don't like. A goldfish may not do this; it may resist or flee from a situation of distress, but it does not have the agency to change its life or environment. And what it certainly can't do is employ the help of others in this regard.

Complaining is a uniquely human behaviour in which a person implores other members of its species to help them exact change. However, at the same time, people tend to complain when they feel a situation is unfair; without knowing whether a goldfish's lot is unfair or not, the goldfish has little to complain about. That's probably roughly what the teacher is after.

Then again, it may be a creative writing exercise where the student is asked to anthromorphise. In which case, a goldfish might complain about the myth that it only has a seven-second memory when actually it can remember quite a lot from one day to the next - like sights and sounds associated with a food supply. Apart from that, the living conditions of pet goldfish may give it cause for complaint in a variety of ways. The BVA AWF has some advice about good goldfish husbandry in Goldfish as First Pets.

Can a goldfish die from depression?

Reading between the lines, I sense that the reader is experiencing guilt over the death of a beloved goldfish. Was the reader, by any chance, reading poetry to the goldfish when it shuffled off its mortal coil? Was the reader, by any chance, reading their own poetry to the goldfish when it kicked the bucket? Did the goldfish have a melancholic look in its eyes when it heard the second couplet rhyming "you" with "blue"? Did the goldfish gaze open-mouthed as they concluded with the sentiment that it was the reader's "only friend", before turning on its side and floating to the surface of the tank?

If so, it was probably dropsy or something.

How can I teach my goldfish to speak?

Teaching a goldfish to speak English required dedication and tireless endeavour and is not a task to be taken on frivolously. You will have to speak to and preferably read to your goldfish (Shakespeare and the Classics of English Literature are essential) for a minimum of two hours every day. And it needs to be every day if you hope to be having basic conversations with your goldfish within ten years. They are slow learners and of course, a goldfish is a fragile creature and may not survive to master yes, no, please and thank you. For this reason, I recommend educating several goldfish at once to increase your odds.

What do goldfish do when we are not looking?

Let's put it this way. Remember that cat and three kittens (later named by vets Hope, Freedom, Flag and Amber) that miraculously survived in a box of napkins in the basement of the World Trade Center when it collapsed? Didn't you ever wonder whether perhaps they were the real target and the whole thing was orchestrated by vengeful goldfish?

Smack the goldfish

This blog does not condemn corporal discipline for aquatic pets. A stern talking-to is usually all your goldfish requires.


Sally said...

"... does not have the agency to change its life or environemnt."

But I thought everyone knew that a goldfish (most definitely not you Goldfish) has a 12 second (whatever) memory, so provided it takes 13 seconds (whatever) to swim round its tank (not a globe please) it always begins life anew, and doesn't remember that dinky little cave/bridge thingey being there/anywhere before.

It is sad that I have to admit that the most frequent hits on my site meter request: "show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed" which Charles Dawson has a lot to answer for, as he provided most of the words.

A suitable song for a goldfish ?

Marcelle Proust said...

Condemn? Or condone?

Magpie said...


I get a lot of google searches looking for information about magpies.

Mary said...

you're feeling alright at the moment, then?

Anonymous said...

This is great. The poetry bit is my absolute favorite part.

Meanwhile, I never heard about the cat and three kittens. Is this yet another thing my government is hiding from me?

And why "Amber"?

The Goldfish said...

Thanks everyone. Today I had someone searching for "Missing vibrator accident". I bet they were uncomfortable. ;-)

Sally - it's a myth. Goldfish don't have a memory of seconds; I'm not sure where that came from. No doubt there are not the most intelligent creatures, but still.

Marcelle - oops! Yes, well spotted. I'll change that next time I publish.

Magpie - Hello!

Mary - Fine. ;-)

Sara - I don't know, although I thought "Flag" was a sillier name for a cat myself.

You can actually see pictures of the curiously named kitties here.

Gone Fishing said...

Ha having worked for eons in a very LARGE research fish hatchery, marine so no Goldfish, I can tell you that fish doth thunk!

They know when it is feeding time.

They jostle for position to be closet to the feeder

Almost, one likes to think, they return affection.

And my dog steals chocolate blocks and hides the wrapper.

NEVER underestimate "lower" species they often prove that they see us in the same light!

Brilliant use of Condemn and I hope you all stand outside at midday for 3 minutes to show your abhorrence at NZ's High child abuse rates.

I am sure the Goverment will feel much better for having cut funding to parent education programs Pavlov, who the hell was Pavlov? Woof!

Anonymous said...

I shall bear that all in mind. Would you say that the same applies to all species of 'pets'? [e.g. hermit crabs, lizards and cats]

BloggingMone said...

Well, goldfishes do speak. At least according to a six year old deaf girl I met years and years ago. She had just started to learn lipreading and happily announced in front of a tank with goldfishs inside that they pronounce the word "Papa" (German for Daddy) perfectly.

Highlights from two years of blogging. said...

I gave you a blogging award:

Happy blogging :)

Anonymous said...

here is a real smack talking goldfish