Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Upside-Down Fish

I have looked after many creatures in my time, from George, the crow who had lost his tail, to tortoises - - terrapins - - a budgerigar - - Chinese Pekin Robins - - a poodle - - catfish - - cats - - squillions of tadpoles - - - lots and lots of other animals. At the moment I have custody of Olli and Gareth's gecko, plus the crickets and waxworms that it eats, plus the five Giant African Land Snails which were a wedding present to Olli and Gareth (yes, I know, most people get a tea set and some towels). And there's our cat Froggie, and sometimes Olli and Gareth's cat Wendy. And at the moment I'm looking after my friend Jo's two little rabbits.

Throughout my life I've acquired lots of animals to look after. The strangest, perhaps, were the upside-down goldfish.

They were fantail goldfish, which I acquired in the late 1960s from Amy's daughter Lynda, who then worked in Biology at Leeds University.

"Could you look after some spare goldfish?" she asked. "And, by the way, they're upside down."

They were indeed. They'd been overbred to have too many frilly bits on their fins. They had something wrong with their swim bladders, I think, and had turned upside down and stayed that way.

They stayed that way for months. Years. They were a talking point. I was the only Daphne in the school, and certainly the only Daphne with upside-down goldfish.

I quite enjoyed showing them to people, and watching the people's reactions.

The golfish didn't seem to be suffering. They swam around cheerily in their tank, doing everything that fish do, only upside down.

I've heard that goldfish only have a memory for the past two seconds and this has always worried me slightly in case they spend their entire lives thinking "Now what was I - - ? - - - Now what was I - - ? - - - Now what was I - - ?"

So it is a slight concern to me that these upside-down ones may have spent their lives thinking "Am I the wrong way - - ? Am I the wrong way - - ? Am I the wrong way - - ?"

When it's your own childhood, you don't think it's strange, do you? So I took the upside-down fish for granted. Actually, I suspect that large chunks of my life are pretty strange these days, too, by other people's standards. Only I don't notice, because I'm used to it.


Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

When he was in college back in the 80's, my son flushed an expensive fish from his aquarium down the toilet because he thought it was dead...only to read later that this particular kind of fish slept on its back.

Live and learn.

5:10 pm  

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