Goldfish mating behaviours and other things

There are times in a woman’s life that she realises that she has been living in a state of ignorance , that mysterious things lie just beneath the surface, waiting for a curious mind to unearth them.

Friday was a busy day. Again. I had held such high hopes of writing my blog and savouring the creative moment in the chaos, but it was not to be. Friday was a deliciously sunny autumn day here in Adelaide and our friends M & S invited us and another family to join their family for an impromptu barbecue at their place. It took all of seven seconds to think about our response-their house is brand spanking new and gorgeous. There are no fingerprints on their white walls (yet), no scratches on their wooden floorboards (yet), no stains in their spring-loaded, soft-closing toilets (yet) and the plastic has only just been removed from their refrigerator. But the real bonus is that the house is big enough that our cumulative eight children (ranging in age from 9 months to almost 9 years old) can disappear into the cavernous interior where they can play safely while the grown ups pretend that there are no children, that the bags under our eyes are from nights on the town and the smiles on our faces are from the sheer joy of living (and not the sad truth that we’ve just watched all those overweight people exercising their guts out on Biggest Loser while we eat a pavlova with raspberries and cream).

I should have seen it coming- the epiphany that would shatter the cocoon of my ignorance- but I didn’t. I had been hastily preparing our culinary contribution to the evening’s festivities (an Asian salad, some marinated kangaroo steaks and un salad de potato) when the phone rang: our impromptu bbq was now going Korean. I was not particularly flustered because the salad was already Asian, the meat was already marinated and not un-Korean (Korea and kangaroo both begin with K) and the potato salad would probably not last through the feeding of the juveniles and did not, therefore, count as bbq food.

I was smiling to myself when the phone rang again…it was my friend C, one half of the other couple that were coming to the bbq. D & C are virgins in the Korean food department, never having tasted seaweed or kimchi, and certainly new to the concept of throwing something un-Australian on the barbie, Mate! C made my day, when she muttered something about trying her luck at picking up a little Korean on her way over to M & S upon which I had a vivid visual image of my gorgeous friend swanning into the bbq with one husband, two sons, one daughter and a small Korean gentleman in tow. It was going to be a fun night.

The food, as you can imagine, was delicious! The children were somewhere in the bowels of the residence (well fed and watching Mr Bean) and we were finishing the remnants of the pavlova with a few half-finished glasses of wine or coffee scattered precariously close to the white leather lounge (also with no stains on it…yet) when the topic surfaced. It was innocuous at first: Did I ever follow up with the guy who was selling discus fish? Now to those who do not know, we have recently begun cultivating an aquarium. Shocking, I know, but I (who up till now have a history of so traumatising goldfish that they commit suicide) have inherited the responsibility of keeping a whole tank full of tropical fish alive. Fortunately there are no police clearance certificates required before previously convicted fish killers can purchase pisces again!

So the answer was that I had neglected to make contact with said seller of discus fish, but I think I made it sound like I had a good reason because I rattled something off about how our fish (platies) like brackish (sounds intelligent and knowledgeable to me!) water with a pH over 7  while discus prefer a pH of about 6 (Booyah! She done her research!). Apparently not! My friend, with an expression somewhere between pity and ‘what-kind-of-an-idiot-are-you’ told me that my information was correct ‘in theory’ but that discus live with platies all the time and that I had missed a darn good deal for no reason! So, even though I had already eaten several thousand calories more than were allotted for the day, I swallowed a nice fat piece of humble pie and…changed the subject.

“So Platies are livebearers?” I said, knowing that my friend is somewhat of an expert on fish (evidently) in more ways than just theoretical (evidently), but I had no idea what I was about to unleash. What followed can only be described as a harrowing, embarrassing and too-intimate-for-comfort discussion about the methods of artificially inseminating goldfish (Don’t ask how we went from platies to goldfish! I can’t remember the details past the discussion about how one might go about getting male goldfish to inseminate the roe of the female. There may yet be an untapped market in fish porn by the sounds of things). Though the information may come in handy at the next school quiz night fundraiser, I doubt any goldfish of mine (suicidal as they seem to be) would like to  know that I not only have the information, but the means necessary to interfere with their love lives!

Knowledgeable Friend threw me the rope I needed to save myself from the embarrassment but, instead I brought it on myself, the bombshell of truth that shattered my ignorance…

“Do you know how to tell when your platies are exhibiting mating behaviour?” It was a fair question, on topic, off of artificial insemination and fish porn, so I asked: “No. How?”

And then he delivered it. D (husband to C and friend of many years, upon whom I should be able to rely) dropped the bombshell… “Just look for flowers, little bunches of flowers, and candlelit dinners, and boxes of chocloate.” I mean seriously! Seriously!!! Friday night!!! Pity she didn’t bring a little Korean, she could have gone home with him instead….! )

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