The Goldfish Whisperer.

Hi, nice to meet you. You have two and a half days to live.

Hi fish, nice to meet you. You have two and a half days to live.

In the post before this one, I made a comment about the life expectancy of the average goldfish.

I’m willing to bet that if I looked hard enough, I could find some reference that would tell me that wild, ocean going goldfish live to be thirty five years old. Perhaps some aquarium manager will chime in with a comment.

My experience as a kid, and I’m guessing yours too, was that goldfish live about two and a half days. They come home in the plastic bag, they go in the bowl.  You feed them a few times and then they go to the porcelain mausoleum.

Mrs. Omawarisan

Mrs. Omawarisan

A few years ago, Mrs. Omawarisan mentioned that she would like to have an aquarium with some goldfish. I thought to myself at that point that was a lot of trouble to go to for two and a half days of aquatic fun. All the same I didn’t object. My policy is that Mrs. O is entitled to whatever she wants due to the fact that she puts up with my various antics, adventures and the supporting cast of characters that I surround myself with.

Actually, I have to admit, I did ask why she’d want a pet whose lifespan rivals the length of a Britney Spears marriage.

So then we got the first aquarium and two gold fish.

Two weeks later they were still alive. I was a little stunned by this development. I started taking note of the characteristics of these two finned miracles. In the back of my mind, I had a theory that, as a joke, she was replacing the goldfish every other day while I was at work. She wasn’t. They were the same two fish.

MMMMM! If I was going to eat this good, I wouldnt go on vacation either.

MMMMM! If I was going to eat this good, I wouldn't go on vacation either.

After a month, our vacation was coming up. The fish were still alive. Was she going to bring them? Mrs. O said she was going to buy something that would feed the fish while we were gone. Well of course she was.

Actually, I have to admit, I did ask why we we’re going to buy something special to feed two fish who were living on borrowed time.

So, then we went and got these pyramid-shaped things that would dissolve and feed the fish.

We came back from a week-long vacation, the fish were alive. The oldest of those two original fish lasted two and a half years. It lived on and on. I stopped asking questions. Obviously there were forces at work here that I could not understand.

Since the passing of the original two fish, there have been others. Some made it a year; others, 3 years. Then one week, I saw something I never thought I would see. Goldfish behavior modification.

The fish thought being in the hole wouldnt break him. He was wrong.

The fish thought being in the hole wouldn't break him. He was wrong.

Mrs. O bought a fish to replace one that had taken that final spinning dive down the toilet. The new goldfish was aggressive and kept chasing and nipping at the widowed goldfish that remained in the tank. Clearly, this could not stand. The aggressive goldfish was removed and placed in a separate bowl.

The goldfish lived in solitary confinement for several days, until the night it attempted suicide. Late one evening that fish leaped from its solitary bowl, landing with a smack on a wood floor three feet below. Mrs. O saw this happen, scooped him up and plunked him back into the original tank. He never offended against the other fish again, and lived to a ripe old age.

Mrs. Omawarisan is the  goldfish whisperer. Who knew?


18 Comments on “The Goldfish Whisperer.”

  1. queensgirl says:

    I also had one that lived for several years. S/he never attempted an escape, though.

  2. queensgirl says:

    On the other hand, I had a parakeet that died after a month. In my hand. 😦

  3. frigginloon says:

    My dog ate my tortoise, car killed my dog, snake bit my cat, cat killed my canary, 2 goldfish suicided and so on and so on…..

  4. planetross says:

    Mrs.O. is the goldfish whisperer!

    I had a similar experience a few years ago with the fish in the plastic bags:

    I don’t usually link stuff, so this must be important!

  5. omawarisan says:

    Loon, I would not have a dog in my house that could bite through a turtle.

    PR – If you had mailed that fish from Japan to Mrs. O, it would still be alive. And on your link…I’m with you I can’t get all sympathetic about fish. I think I require things to have limbs if we’re going to bond.

  6. griffin says:


    Stop buying pets. Put the money back in your pocket and back out of the pet shop.

  7. Kathi D says:

    My in-laws had a couple of feeder goldfish that lived about a million years.

    Here’s a parrot story. Many years ago and far away, the husband and I obtained a wild parrot. We worked on training him hours every day, for about 3 days, and on the 4th day he was so much tamer and more sedate. We decided we were the world’s best parrot trainers. Until the next morning when we found him upside down on his perch. But wait, it gets worse. In order to get a live replacement parrot, we had to trade the dead one, which meant we had to keep it in our freezer for a week. Every time I needed an ice cube, I had to see that foil-wrapped package in the shape of a parrot.

  8. omawarisan says:

    They want the frozen parrot back? Maybe they’re going to bring back all the foil wrapped parrots when they bring back foil wrapped Walt Disney.

    I do hope you learned that they were serious in the training instructions – using a whip and a chair is good for lions, not so good for parrots.

  9. queensgirl says:

    I don’t know, Oma. At least my Twinkie went peacefully. (I hope.)

  10. Keli says:

    Personal experience (not statistics or scientific studies) have shown me that the average lifespan of a goldfish is indeed 2 years. But I must say, I’m quite impressed by the Mrs’ innate understanding and appreciation of a species as seemingly incidental (in my view) as the goldfish. I’m wondering if she might not have the same capability with hens who stubbornly refuse to lay eggs, despite my daily singing of “An Egg a Day Keeps the Butcher Away…”

  11. marjolein says:

    i got a goldfish for my 5th birthday and it became 13 years old. ps: bowls are not good for goldfish, they don’t keep enough oxygen in the water

  12. Lucky Eye says:

    Well, Koi is a kind of goldfish and they can live up to a hundred years. And I have bettas. They live up to 3-4 years. But I got them last September. My friend let this HORRIBLE girl take care of her goldfish. Some died because she overfed. Result: They died. RIP.

    • omawarisan says:

      My folks had some koi in a little pond.They kept vanishing. They finally figured out that an owl was getting them. Owls really cut into koi’s lifespan.

  13. Kathryn says:

    Our goldfish, Grouchy, is 13 years old. At the age of three, my toddler, also three, spritzed him with Clorox Cleanup. Grouchy survived. He was been dumped into freezing water. He survived. His tank was overturned and Grouchy flopped onto the floor skittering under the bookcase. He survived. The last 5 years have been peaceful, but Grouchy has had 3 eye infections and I think he could be legally blind (we don’t let him drive anymore). He still seems happy and likes to cuddle when I clean his tank. I don’t really understand how he could live to be this old, but I guess some goldfish are just . . . survivors.

    • omawarisan says:

      I’m glad he survived the cloroxing and everything else and that you took his car keys. Too few people have that conversation with their fish until it is too late because it is not an easy one to have.

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