Keep a goldfish alive in 20 easy steps

November 20th, 2008

A-Goldfish-In-A-Bowl-1530827_jpg_472x225_crop_upscale_q85I’ve had this post in my mind for a very long time, nearly every time that I look at Redhead, age 4, and her next-door fishmate, Firefly, soon to be 3. Actually, I’m not certain of their chronological age at all, just that they have been in our disbelieving care for what seems like forever. Here’s my secret formula for goldfish longevity.

1. Suffer the immediate demise of two to three other goldfish and tell yourself you will never be so foolish as to bring another one home.
2. Leave the house for the morning.
3. During which time your husband drives by the pet store and escorts your daughter inside, then leaves with a 25-cent fish and $40 in tank, decoration, and filtration supplies.
4. Install said fish in this high-dollar, intensive care, assisted living habitat.
5. Remind your child every morning and evening to feed the fish.
6. This requires repeating the following phrase eight full times, twice a day, every day, for 1,460 days: Did you feed the fish?
7. Repeat after me, Did you feed the fish?
8. Repeat it 23,360 times over four years.
9. Then feed the fish yourself.
10. Leave the house for the morning.
11. During which time your husband takes your daughter to the old-fashioned carnival in the park, then leaves with a free, 25-cent goldfish in a cellophane bag.
12. Inwardly scream, then regain your calm with the thought, “I bet these fish could share the same tank.”
13. Remove remains and give teary daughter a tutorial on “survival of the fittest.”
14. Leave the house for the morning.
15. During which time your husband drives by the pet store and escorts your daughter inside, then leaves with a 25-cent fish and another $40 in tank, decoration and filtration supplies.
16. Repeat steps 4-9.
17. Use only distilled water to refill tanks.
18. Fully and/or partially refill tanks every Saturday.
19. This requires two gallons of distilled water at $1.29 each once a week for 208 weeks.
20. Marvel at the lifespan of your fish, but do not do the math.



  1. Something tells me she will have nothing but fond memories of those pet store trips with dad.

    Comment by Kristin H. — November 20, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  2. SAMD (smiling at my desk).

    Comment by DQ's Windmill — November 20, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  3. Anything where I do not have to do the math is quite possibly my favorite thing!


    Comment by Cat — November 20, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

  4. laughing here as I do the math, given our nearly six year old fish- who is a survivor. When we forget he digs up the sediment on the bottom of the tank. When we moved from NY to CO he lived in a fish bowl on the moving truck dashboard.

    He also has killed any other fish we introduce to the tank, so he has A HUGE home.

    I just love the cleaning, changing of water and feeling that seems to be my own private joy ::smirk::

    p.s. fish emulsion is great for gardens.

    Comment by Bridge — November 20, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

  5. It’s the husband over here, too.

    I refuse to participate in the fish-in-captivity experiment in our home.

    The fish — and the kids and the hubby — are doing fine. πŸ™‚

    Comment by Stacy (mama-om) — November 20, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

  6. Our fish is named Elvis. Elvis XII.

    Comment by Mama Zen — November 20, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  7. I’m sure your husband takes his turn cleaning and refilling the tank and reminding GG to feed the fish. Right? πŸ˜‰

    Comment by kathryn — November 21, 2008 @ 6:44 am

  8. oh my goodness, this made me laugh so hard.
    we’ve been there.
    done this.
    ours didn’t quite last as long though πŸ˜‰

    Comment by Kirsten Michelle — November 21, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

  9. Wow. Life is so complicated.

    Even for a fish.

    Comment by Rowena — November 21, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

  10. Never do the math.

    Comment by mapelba — November 21, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

  11. Mama Zen, you’re right. Consistency is the key!

    Kathryn, I am too stingy in giving my husband credit, aren’t I? The fish would absolutely not be alive if not for him! I ought to try leaving the house for longer than just a morning and see how the whole thing turns out.

    Marta, yours is the perfect quote. Might I suggest: on t-shirts, mugs, and Petsmart shopping bags?

    Rowena, if not for the fish, life around here would be just too darn easy.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — November 21, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

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