Every year, my parents and I journey to Topsfield, MA for the Topsfield Fair, the oldest agricultural county fair in the United States. This October, we continued the tradition and attended the 200th annual fair on Saturday the 6th. At first, the day was like any other time we had gone to the fair: we trudged through the mud and muck of the parking lot to the actual fairground; I pet several baby goats and one hungry horse; my Dad unsuccessfully tried to win me a stuffed animal at the shooting game (it’ll be your year next year, Dad); I gorged on fried dough.
But, as we walked through the Midway—the part of the fair with all of the games—I noticed one particular game booth. The game consisted of throwing ping pong balls into fish bowls. If you got a ball in a bowl, you won a cute little goldfish!
I am an animal lover to my core. I used to want to be a vet until I realized that involved blood and math. But when I saw those little fishies swimming frantically around in their tiny plastic bags, I just knew I had to try and save one. After five dollars and a whole bucket of pinballs, I came up fishless—my aim is only good in video games. Utterly depressed, I began to walk away. Just then, the sketchy dude running the game proposed a trade: $10 outright for one goldfish and a tank. Sold! It was then that my little fish was delivered into my arms.
Inspired by the recent SNL skit of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, I decided to name my fish Squee. Yes, I named my fish according to current events. Squee’s middle name is also Walter. Squee Walter Doolin—iconic.
Little Squee and his Alien Friend
Like I said, I got a tank for Squee upon purchase—if you could even call it a tank. This tiny little box wasn’t even a whole gallon, and it didn’t have a filter, which is a bad thing considering goldfish poop a mile a minute. No joke. I made a quick trip to the pet store and got Squee a whole new set of digs: a one-gallon tank with a filter and light, fake plants for him to hide in, gravel that was color-coordinated with said plants, and a small alien friend. I also picked up a fish net for easy removal and some fish flakes for food.
However, I wanted to wait to put Squee into his new home. After a tumultuous car ride home and being shocked with new water in his small tank/box/death trap, I wanted to give him a break from the stress. I resolved to keep him in his small tank until Monday night.
This, in hindsight, was not the best of ideas.
With Squee’s tank sitting in my lap and all of his swag in the trunk, my mom and I set off back to school on the evening of Indigenous People’s Day (Columbus, who?). 2.2 seconds into the car ride, I had a lap full of water. Turns out the death trap tank had slats all up in the lid—we were in for a wet car ride.
The death-trap tank
After retrieving a plastic bag and a new pair of pants from my house, we set off once again. Shout out to my Mom for being the best fish grandmother out there—she drove as carefully as possible and minimized the water fallout. However, due to Massachusetts roads, I had to refill Squee’s water supply every now and then with an unknown water bottle in the passenger door. But huzzah! We made it back to Emerson with a 100% living fish. I got Squee’s tank all set up and placed him in his new home that very night.
In the past week or so that I’ve had Squee, I’ve done an intense amount of research into caring for a goldfish. For example, I know Squee is for-sure a boy. He’s got the svelte body structure, as well as what’s called the “anal notch.” Yup. I’ll just leave that there. While I know Squee is “just a fish,” I’m still trying to give him the best life possible for however long that is. I didn’t save him just to kill him!
If you’re looking for a great starter pet or something easy to care for while in college, I think a fish is definitely the way to go. Most schools allow fish in tanks 10 gallons or less. They’re fun to watch swim around, and they’re a nice friendly face when you come back from a hard day’s work.
Squee being a cutie and hiding behind his ferns
That being said, I will say that fish—especially goldfish—still require a decent amount of care. They’re not necessarily animals that you can just feed once a day and forget about like people think. Most fish require weekly to bi-weekly water changes, and variations in their diet. For example, Squee’s water has to be partially changed and his tank cleaned once a week. I also feed him peas every now and then to help promote good digestive health. While this is me doing the most™, I feel like you should always do the most when it comes to caring for living things—their well-being depends solely on you.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to take care of them, however, I definitely suggest a fish. They’re quiet, cute, and freaking hilarious. Watching Squee suck on his gravel and spit it out has given me many-a-laugh.
Maybe I’m just a crazy fish mom. That could be it, too.
If you’d like to learn more about goldfish care, check out these websites: