Say you’re out fishing at your favorite honey hole. You feel the quivering touch of a few tugs on the line, set the hook, and reel up what you think might be a deliciously fat perch.
What you land is actually a giant goldfish.
What the what?
Wacky as it sounds, this actually happened to an angler two years back on Lake St. Clair, Mich.. Detroit's NBC reported the goldfish weighed in at a whopping three pounds and was about 15 inches from lips to tailfin. As the surprised angler put it, “Um, definitely not a perch.”
When you think of goldfish, what comes to mind? Their raw-boned toughness? Their cutting competition? Their fierce capacity for growth and domination?
Or their vapid expressions and supposed contentedness with staring at the same glass wall for hours at a time?
For most people, it’s the later—but then you’d all be wrong.
Did you know that goldfish growing to such behemoth proportions in the wild is not only not rare, but becoming increasingly common? Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator at Alberta Environment and Parks Kate Wilson told The Washington Post, "Their size is limited in the tank, but when you release it into the wild, that doesn't exist anymore.”
The Washington Post points out that this is actually posing ecological risks to native species as more and more of these fish bowl pets get tossed into ponds and lakes and start growing. Able to endure cold winter temperatures in places as far north as Canada and packing on enough pounds to become serious competition, some places are having to directly step in and try to reduce the damage that the massing of these brilliant and surprisingly durable fish are causing in their natural waterways.
Detroit's NBC said that the angler who hooked the goldfish commented, "Everybody wants to just dump them out ... and let them be free, and this is what they turn into."
A wall-mount-worthy goldfish.
Keeping aware of ways to better treat our waterways is something we houseboaters hold dear to our hearts, and this is one way to do just that. On a smaller note beyond the important moral ramifications of this trend, as exciting as hooking a huge goldie is, it’s not exactly what we hit the lakes and rivers for, is it?
If you’re a goldfish owner or know someone who is, make sure to ditch Plan A of leaving them in the wild and instead get ahold of your nearest pet store to see if they’re interested in a free addition to their tanks (it’s a good bet they are). You could also sell them on places like Craigslist.com or give them to a friend who wants them and would take care of them. Any of these options is more responsible and beneficial—to the fish and to the environment—than releasing them into the wild.