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Seems Fish To Me

Bubble Eye Goldfish

By Spencer Glass

A number of years ago I wrote a book for TFH Publications titled, "Goldfish: Keeping and Breeding Them in Captivity." The only problem with this book is that as the author, I did not give the book this title.  One reason is that it was blase’, and second reason is that I did not deal with any "breeding" aspects whatsoever.  The general public assumes the author writes the text, the title and the captions.  I only wrote the text.  What "I" wrote was good!

I bring this up because breeding captive goldfish has been a pleasurable pursuit for hobbyists for somewhere near one thousand years. Way way back it was noble Chinamen seeking treasures to adorn their palace ponds. Today it is anybody who darn well feels like it.  Getting them to spawn is not as difficult as clown loaches for example, and it’s almost down right easy if you provide them with the right environment: clean water, good food, and growing-up time.  However, this will not be a breeding treatise, but more so an essay on what breeders have done to what would otherwise be a plain ol’ pool Comet, or feeder fish, both (and all other relatives) scientifically known as Carassius auratus.

It seems as though at some point long, long ago in Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine, someone took these orange or olive torpedo-shaped fish and figured a way to mutate odd genetic idiosyncrasies into a fixed state.  However, the Japanese really perfected the practice sometime after the Chinese. Nevertheless, what we have now is a Goldfish Department in Superpet World that could look like a scene out of a sci-fi aquarium.

I would imagine they started out with playing with color variants.  From an average-looking olive or golden-colored fish were developed, radiant oranges, smoky blues, chocolate browns, satin whites, and every combination thereof.  These changes weren’t enough.  They made them fat and wobbly (Ryukins).  The developed goldfish that had ornate cranial apparatus, not looking too unlike the brain itself (Orandas). Other mutations included (Why? I have no idea) deep- bodied goldfish with nasal appendages that looked like the fish literally blew it’s brains out of it’s nostrils (Pom Poms).  There’s even another goldfish that developers had the brass to name after the king of beasts in as much as they gallantly decided the brainy appendage looked something like a lion’s mane. This is a stretch. This wobbly, plump-bellied creature is hampered not only by a "mane" that can cover it’s eyes, but has no dorsal fin. We call this noble creature the Lionhead.  Ahem.

And now the creme de la creme of goldfish varieties, the Bubble-Eye! The Bubble-Eye is one of the three commonly known eye-types of goldfish. The other two are the Celestial- Eye and the Telescope-Eye.  To me the Bubble-Eye is the most endearing of the three.  The drooping bubbles (or sacs) give this fish an almost puppy-like appearance.  The size of the bubbles can vary from individual to individual, but as far as industry standards go, the bigger, the better.  As with many of our pets, the human idea of excellence is far from that of nature’s.  English bulldogs are bred for superior head size.  This predilection for size forces most breeders to have their pet’s progeny delivered purposefully by Cesarean section.  In other ways, this humanly derived genetic fixing problem plagues the Bubble-Eyes.

Obviously, the larger these fluid-filled sacs are, the weightier they become.  Not only would this phenomenon prevent this fish from prevailing in the wild, its ability to survive within the confines of a home aquarium are just as hampered.  Due to the heftiness of these bubble sacs, these cute but sad creatures are forced to spend a majority of their time on the aquarium substrate.  While they can, in fact, swim, this action requires more than the usual amount of energy that a "normal" fish would need to expend for the same action.  This mobility handicap prevents them from getting their share of food while in the company of more upwardly-mobile tankmates.

At this point you might be getting the idea that I’m against keeping these kinds of fish.  I’m not.  I have kept them and probably will again.  I just like making the point that as a keeper of these animals one should be somewhat aware of how they came about, and it’s something  that we did.  So, if yer-a-gonna keep ‘em, keep ‘em right. So as far as Bubble-Eyes go, they really need a tank to themselves.  When you feed, still make mental notes as to whether all tank occupants are getting their fair share. Some Bubble-Eyes are better swimmers than others and those that are, are also pigs.

Another aspect in housing the Bubble-Eye goldfish you should keep in mind is the substrate material. As I stated before, most of their time will be spent lounging (so to speak) on the bottom of the aquarium. This area needs to be clear of rough, jagged-edged objects.  The gravel you should use should be the rounded pebble type.  It should be the smaller variety too.  These fish sift through the gravel and they have a tendency to swallow it.  The larger pea-sized variety has many a time become lodged in the fish’s mouth.  I have had to physically extricate it.  The smaller grain size is more easily spit out. These fish will easily suffer from skin abrasions and subsequent maladies from the sharper materials, including pointy driftwood and also could cause their bubbles to, yes, burst!

Should one or even both of their bubbles pop, it is not necessarily deleterious to the fish. That is unless a resulting untreated fungal infection occurs at the source. Otherwise, they usually grow back, but not always.  If they do grow back, for some reason they are generally not as robust looking as the original. Sometimes only a small wart-like protuberance will develop. Either way, the fish will continue to flourish.

When shopping for Bubble-Eyes, there are several things above and beyond normal qualities you look for when purchasing other tropical fish.  They may not be as active as other fish upon initial viewing, but with a gentle prodding they should move about.  As with other goldfish varieties they are forever hungry and the sacs should not hinder their desire to search out food introduced into the aquarium. Try to get a look at their underbelly when they swim. It should not be marked by red streaking, scales sticking out, or anything fuzzy.

I have seen Bubble-Eyes for sale from small two-inchers to large six-inchers.  The bigger the fish, the bigger the bubble.  If you want to assure your self of good "bubbleage" , buy only specimens with two good bubbles already there, not depending or hoping that they’ll grow back.  Bubbles are not always completely symmetrical to one another.  Often, they are not. This is perfectly fine.  It may not be a show winner but healthwise it should be just fine.

The final objective in choosing bubble-eyes is supervising their bagging.  Nets should not be used! There is a distinct danger of popping a bubble this way.  These are far from being speedy fish.  Have the fish catcher (or better yourself, if they let you) use one of those rectangular plastic vessels directly to catch the fish.  One can easily be guided into this container by hand.  Then make sure it is "gently" guided into the bag, not dumped in head first unceremoniously.  Yes, you’ll seem like a pain but it’s your money.  I always tip regular store employees when I’m being a little bit of a nuisance (they’re only making minimum wage). Next time I come in, they don’t mind me and the word that you tip a buck or two spreads quick.  I always get pretty good treatment.

Bubble-Eyes, like other goldfish are mainly omnivorous.  I par boil zucchini and peas and offer as treats at least once a week. This keeps them healthy and results in excellent coloration. Regular live food offerings add to their vitality, and quality flake food can be used as part of the feeding regimen as well.

The best looking, quickest growing goldfish are ones I’ve seen kept in outdoor ponds during the spring and summer months. Just be careful of four-footed and two-winged predators.

So yeah, these are not the way Mother Nature intended her goldfish to be.  Is it wrong of us to make aberrations of her creatures?  You decide.  Me?  If I keep them, I do my best to provide them with the best care..

WWM About Goldfish

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