Newsletter : Great Barrier Reef is Shrinking
What happens to Goldfish in the Winter?
Winter has arrived in the UK. We had our first light dusting of snow last night - or more accurately early this morning. By mid morning the snow had melted and I walked over to my small pond to check out the three goldfish. Not surprisingly there was a layer of ice on top, but I could see the fish at the bottomand they looked fine. Amazingly, that is how they will stay for the next couple of months until the weather warms up again. Their metabolism slows and they hardly move.
During the warm summer and autumn months, I feed the goldfish every day and they are reasonably active - by which I mean they swim lazily around the pond doing very little. The food flakes are high in protein and allow the fish to build up a layer of fat to help them through winter. Once the water temperature drops to 10 degrees centigrade, I feed the fish with wheat germ pellets from the pet store. Wheat germ is good for this time of year as it is easily digested and will not remain in the stomach of the fish. Even so, it takes the fish two to three days to digest the food so I only feed them a couple of times a week. When the outside temperatures fallto 6 ºC, I stop feeding the fish completely -it's true! Their metabolism slows right down and they seem to go to sleep for a couple of months. The only time I worry about them is when the ice gets too thick. It's not the temperature that worries me - the fish can survive very low temperatures. I'm more worried by the toxic gases that are released by decomposing organic matter at the bottom of the pond (that means dead plants, old leaves and goldfish poo!). If these gases are trapped in the pond by the ice, they build up and willkill the fish. So, you can understand why it's important to keep a small area of the pond free of ice. If you're like me, then you may consider hitting the ice very hard with a hammer. Don't! The shock waves will kill the fish. There is a gentler, subtler alternative: place a metal saucepan full of hot water on top of the ice and wait for a few minutes. The saucepan slowly melts the ice and a neat hole appears in the top of the ice. Minimal effort from you - minimal impact on the delicate fish. Because of these toxic gases, it's best to clean out your pond in the fall and remove as many leaves and as much gunk from the bottom of the pond as you can. Unfortunately, I usually remember to do this in November when the water is ice-cold and I'm not brave enough to put my hands into that!
I don't normally talk - or write -- about my goldfish, but I have done today so that I can introduce an amazing Japanese artist called Riusuke Fukahori. The ICN gallery in London held an exhibition of Fukahori's work and I love what he does. [Goldfish Salvation was at the ICN, www.icn-global.com ] If you have a chance, check out his work by looking it up online. Fukahoriproduces three-dimensional goldfish in clear resin to give the impression of fish in water. His exhibition is a series of various containers - from wooden bucketsto wooden boxes - all containing beautiful goldfish. In fact, the goldfish are so realistic that it's hard to believe that they are not alive and swimming in what looks like clear water. Videos in the exhibition explain how Fukahori creates these lifelike 'sculptures'. Each fish is painted layer by layer with a new thin layer of resin poured on top each time. Once the clear resin is dry, Fukahori starts all over againon the next layer. The effect is similar to a 3D printer - the fish becoming more and more lifelikeas the layers build up. I think it's fair to say that his work is halfway between painting and sculpting and it's easy to understand why some of his pieces take months to make. (And in case you're wondering - goldfish are the only thing that he produces.) Looking at his work, I couldn't help wondering if I should just give up on my pond goldfish and put one of Fukahori's exhibits in the garden. Very beautiful and much less work.
Quick Quiz (answers at the end). Complete the sentences below using one of these fish-related idioms: a) felt like a fish out of water b) drinks like a fish c) is a big fish in a small pond d) is a cold fish e) are plenty more fish in the sea
1. * Hal has been offered a job in a large software company. He doesn't know whether to take it or not as he's a big fish in a small pond at the moment. [c. = Hal works for a small company at the moment and has a lot of responsibility.]
2. * The new manager is a bit of a cold fish. He doesn't smile or laugh or ask questions. [d. = The new manager is not very friendly.]
3. * My girlfriend has left me and I'm really upset. My brother says that there are plenty more fish in the sea and that I should relax and look for a new girlfriend. [e. = There are other women that he can date.]
4. * I went along to a meeting with the sales department to discuss the campaign to promote our new product. I felt like a fish out of water as they were using words and ideas that I had never heard of. [a. = He felt uncomfortable working with unfamiliar words and ideas.]