I am pleased to report that those four, minuscule pearl eggs I removed from the garden pond last July have now metamorphosed into fish. Because of their aquatic connections, it was decided to call them after coastal weather stations – not that they are ever likely to dip a fin into the briny.
So, Dogger, Fisher and German Bight – wriggling squirts that might equally be mosquitos, made an appearance. As a bonus, a fourth wriggler emerged, answering to the name of Dover.
You don’t actually believe me when I say that they answer to their names, do you? They don’t, but installed in an indoor tank it didn’t take them long to associate the sound of my voice with the appearance of lunch. Calculating the amount of food needed by something the combined size of a grape is a matter of guesswork. A few fish flakes on the end of your finger, rubbed into little more than dust, seems to keep them healthy.
They are still an indeterminate colour, ranging from misty sunset to mud brown, with just a tinge of prospector’s gold. There is also a distinct variation in size and shape, the largest, Dogger, looming over his companions while little Dover is a mere whippersnapper.
I am always surprised to discover how much water even a small fish tank holds. Blessed with a garden well, there is always a ready supply of water free from contaminants so that cleaning their tank is easy. A layer of gravel allows sediment to sink below the surface while weed helps to aerate the tank, helped by a simple pump and filter. I doubt that the Chinese junk, featured above, adds much to the fishes’ well-being, other than providing somewhere to hide and pleasing the owner.
I have only completely emptied the tank once since they moved in, in October. Being so small and fed sparingly there is very little pollution. The spring clean did, however, produce a surprise, a long, six-legged green creature that turns out to be a damselfly larva. It now resides in the garden pond.
It must be my imagination but Dogger and his shoal seem to grow larger every day. I can’t wait for the time when like debutantes, they emerge in their full livery of gold and black. Perhaps next summer the garden pond might yield more pearls and Shannon, Fitzroy and Ronaldsway will join their number.