Rescue Fish By Phyllis Wrynn In the early 1990’s, a long-dreamed of idea was actually reali ed!

"y hus#and and son #uilt a $ond in our tiny, $ostage-stam$-si ed garden in Par% &lo$e! For many years, the thought of a $ond filled me with 'oy! "itch had grown u$ raising tro$ical fish, so he was really e(cited at the $ros$ect of an outdoor $ond! We read as much as we could a#out $ond construction, #ut the s$ace was so small, that all we could really do is figure out a $leasing and natural sha$e within the s$ace, and start digging! We found some shards of old $ottery and glass, $erha$s the remains of an old cistern, and were thrilled! )igging three and a half feet down was necessary so that the fish could o*erwinter! +hey would slow down as the weather got colder and we would need to lessen feeding and ultimately sto$ feeding altogether as they sort of hi#ernated! We had to line the dug out s$ace and tried to ha*e it #e as natural as $ossi#le #y $lacing roc%s that we had collected in our #elo*ed ,u-#ec to weigh down the lining and %ee$ it in $lace! +hen we filled the $ond, #ut had to wait for the tem$erature to #e 'ust right so as not to shoc% the fish we’d #e $utting in! We also wanted any chlorine and other chemicals to dissi$ate! We set u$ a #iological filter that wor%ed naturally to %ee$ the water clean! I was li%e a %id, as%ing each day, .Are we there yet/, so eager to go loo%ing for fish and #ring them to their new home! 0t last, e*erything fell into $lace, and it was time to go fish sho$$ing! We certainly didn’t want any .fancy1 fish, li%e %oi, for our $ond2'ust normal, old-fashioned goldfish! We chose se*eral li*ely ones and set them free on a lo*ely warm day! +hey were 34R5 ha$$y6 +hey 7uic%ly learned that I was the feeder and as I o$ened the door to go out to the garden, 'ust the motion or form 1

was enough to #ring them to the surface and gather close to the edge where I stood! +hey were +R0I84)6 &o sweet and &9 un#elie*a#le6 5ear in and year out, they thri*ed! +hey had some #a#ies and the #a#ies grew u$ and they thri*ed! +hey lo*ed the rain and the harder it rained, the more they $layed! +hey o*erwintered wonderfully2through the first :linton 0dministration and then the second one! We were 34R5 attached to these wonderful fish! +hen one season, there was a disaster! +here was a 7uic% free e after the lea*es had fallen and there were a#out 10 inches of solid ice with twigs and lea*es fro en inside! We had the %ind of floating heater that lets gases esca$e and %ee$s one small section of the $ond from free ing! But, all of the conditions were 'ust too much for our fish! We saw one floating! We s$rang into action, filling e*erything we could with water, actually doing :PR on their #odies and actually managing to sa*e se*eral of them! We used &tress Relief and tried to gradually ad'ust the tem$erature so they would not #e shoc%ed #y the changing en*ironment! We had a tan% indoors that we readied to acce$t the sur*i*ors and they actually did sur*i*e the entire winter! Whether ultimately, their systems were 'ust too challenged, we can’t say, #ut when we $ut them out into the $ond for the s$ring season, they didn’t ma%e it! We were com$letely heart#ro%en! We didn’t get more fish #ecause it was a terri#ly hot summer and we worried that e*a$oration of the $ond water would ha$$en so fast, it would #e hard to %ee$ u$ with it! But, truth #e told, we 'ust could not #ear the loss of another grou$ of $als! &o, the $ond stayed em$ty2'ust sadly em$ty! +he ne(t s$ring, we resol*ed to try again, #ut this time, my hus#and had the most wonderful idea! We had always seen tan%s of .feeder fish1 at $et stores, *ery su$er-crowded tan%s with small goldfish that ;

were $riced at <0 for a dollar and were #ought as food for other $ets! =e said, .Why don’t we #uy some feeder fish/ Whate*er time they ha*e in our $ond2e*en 'ust a day, they will die free and ha$$y! 0nd, $erha$s some will ma%e it! In any case, we’re gi*ing these creatures a chance, when they ne*er had one #efore2 and, we’ll #e ha$$y doing it!1 +he idea was so $erfect #ecause e*en if they didn’t all ma%e it, they would ha*e lots of room and #e in a natural en*ironment and it made us feel great to thin% of those #eing the conditions of their last moments! For this rescue mission, we made a $lan with our honorary grandchildren, who ha*e two sets of :hinese grand$arents> we are the .0merican1 set! We e($lained our intentions and the %ids were more than 'ust a little curious! 0s soon as +homas and Fion saw the crowded tan%, they really understood why we wanted to do this! When we told the $et store guy what our $lan was, he e($lained that genetically, these fish are #red as feeders and are not *ery strong, so he was gently s%e$tical a#out our chance of success! We had one of those great %id moments, when %ids get immediately to the heart of the matter in at once a gruesome, yet wildly funny way! 0s +homas held u$ our ?1!00 #ag filled with fish, he said, .)estined for dessert2and now sa*ed61 We all smiled at one another2e*en laughed out loud a #it, and were *ery ha$$y to ha*e com$leted our mission! We did all of the things to ma%e the transition as smooth as $ossi#le, #ut the high ammonia content of the crowded tan%s was not something we wanted to recreate! "any of the fish died within days! But, ama ingly ele*en of them did not! 8ot only did they li*e, they grew and grew and danced in the rain and were the ha$$iest2 are the ha$$iest fish on the $lanet! @

0lthough they, too, were destined for dessert, they #eat the odds and ha*e made us incredi#ly ha$$y! 0nd, with all of the acti*ity this year, we are e($ecting B0BI4&2may#e e*en A9+& of them6 Phyllis Wrynn Broo%lyn ;01;


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