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
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
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
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..