Culling the herd

Here is my fish with small lumps a few years back.

Here is my fish with small lumps a few years back. It’s that pointy lump (lower right) that grew over this past winter.

My pond had a sick goldfish. It either had pox or a cell tumor. Both are non-contagious often caused by a virus that results in wart-like lumps.

The fish doesn’t have much value. Goldfish cost less than $10 for a medium-sized pond fish. They are easy to keep and survive winters well and bred like….well….rabbits.

This fish was bred and born in my pond. It was a freebie. (Who said Barry White didn’t produce babies?)

The fish has been living a good life with the pox for the last two years. Over the winter something went crazy and one of the lumps took on a life of its own. It became almost one-third the size of the fish, hanging on one side for dear life. The fish learned to compensate for it when swimming but it looked gross.

I was still not convinced it wasn’t happy. The fish was active. It was right there when I fed them and swam just fine. The other fish did not pick on it. (We have a no bullying policy in my pond. Just asked those re-homed bullfrogs.)

Earlier this week it looked like a new lump was developing near the eye. I did not want to see that happen so it was time.

I can’t kill a spider. I re-home bees. I name mice. How on earth would I ever euthanize a fish? (It’s ok. You can think I’m crazy. I am!)

Mr. Google was consulted. There are humane ways other than letting it flop on the grass.

I talked to pond people who are not nearly as attached to goldfish as I am. (Any eye-rolling happened when I was out of sight.) They weren’t helpful. Most of them just chopped the head off. (I think most of them let the poor fish flop on the grass until dead!)

The beloved husband was engaged. I would catch the fish and tranquillize it. He would do the hands on beheading that would make it quick and final.

The day was dreary and rainy. That was good because I cast no shadows as I worked to net the fish. Got it on the first try. (That in itself is amazing!)

All the rest went like clockwork. I hoped it had a good life in my pond. There aren’t many predators. I have a bubbler to keep the oxygen level high all winter.

There are lots of hidey holes and underwater plants for food and frolic. The fish get to watch the frogs mate. (Would that count as pond porn?)

I had to give the fish the sex talk because the small fry (babies) were coming faster than I could count.

So good food, good water, toys, lots of sex, no sushi bar – why wouldn’t any fish be happy?

Nature has a way of keeping equilibrium without my intervention. Except for this poor fish. Hope I did it justice.

This isn't my fish but the tumor size is the same as it was on my fish after the winter.

This isn’t my fish but the tumor size is the same after the winter.




33 thoughts on “Culling the herd

  1. The consensus seems to be; how difficult it would be to do the humane thing. But, fact is, no one really wants to end a life. But, sometimes it seems necessary to do it, though. Still, it can’t be easy, though. Unless, of course, you happen to be named Vinnie and Vitto and you work together, in which case I suspect rubbing out a fish might come somewhat naturally.

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  2. I am so touched at your sensitivity to your goldfish. I’ve never seen these tumors, and that would be really disturbing. I’m confident you gave him a good life. So few people think of these small species as deserving this level of concern, but I think it’s a lovely trait to be so concerned, Kate. You set a very good example.


  3. Oh dear lord I could never do it either. Word at the pond store is there is a line waiting for you to choose a replacement…it’s getting ugly …. everyone want to go to your pond. There was chatter about “prime real estate”


    • Poor souls. Not a chance of more adoptions unless a big blue heron comes along. My fish reproduce at such a rate that I had to give some away to another pond owner last year. I lost some over the winter (damn raccoons like their sushi) but the population is perfect for the size. Loved your comment!


  4. Zero eye-rolling coming from this direction. Hey, whether fish or kitty or any other living creature, we can’t help that we want to see them treated as humanely as possible, and that means always, especially when they are being euthanized. Sounds like he had a good life in your pond. Practically an ongoing vacation for those fishies and froggies. Thank goodness you had help for the difficult parts. At one time, I was an avid fisherman. Quickly has always seemed the most humane way to go, so I learned how to be quick about it. But it never really made it easier.


  5. Isn’t that just the way with guys? (The eye rolling part) I once hit a GOOSE on the fairway of the golf course with my tee shot! Hard to believe, I know, cuz I am NOT that good a golfer! I was afraid I had broken the poor creature’s wing. But when I called in to the club house to report the incident, the men just LAUGHED! They said they would “take care of it,” but who knows…

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    • Guys who install ponds are more in tuned to nature, survival of the fit and all that. They also don’t think a single fish has any value. As I was researching how to do this humanely, I came across a blog by a vet who put a large koi “to sleep” for one of his clients. He said that he had to do it humanely because it was a “member of the family.” It was so affirming. I’m not alone in my craziness. I know in some other countries even people aren’t valued.

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  6. Oh dear piggy heavens. That was hard. I’m sure Mr. Fish had a full life in your pond. Who wouldn’t with all of their *needs* met – and I mean literally all of their *needs*. Snorts with piggy laughter. You are brave my sweet friend. XOXO – Bacon

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