Many birds flocked to cities during COVID lockdowns

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pThere are many breeds of goldfish (iCarassius auratus/i). This is a celestial eye goldfish, which has large eyes turned upward.br /p

There are many breeds of goldfish (Carassius auratus). This is a celestial eye goldfish, which has large eyes turned upward.

Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Goldfish arent the ho-hum fish you thought they were

In captivity, 10 (aquarium) to 30 years (pond)

0.2 to 0.6 pounds, but can top five pounds in the wild

Thank the Chinese for todays beloved aquarium mainstay, the goldfish. A type of carp, goldfish weredomesticatednearly 2,000 years ago for use as ornamental fish in ponds and tanks. They were seen as a symbol of luck and fortune, and they could only be owned by members of theSong Dynasty.

The fish are now ubiquitous in bowls throughout homes, classrooms, and doctors offices. They even share a name with a cracker, fondly known as the snack that smiles back.

Dont confuse goldfish with its oversized cousinkoi, another type of domesticated carp. Theres a common misconception that koi are large goldfish, but they aredistinct species.

Goldfish werent always, well, gold.

Prussian carp, from which goldfish were domesticated, are traditionally a dull,gray-greenhue. Butmutations and breedingover the years created goldfish signature orange, red, and yellow pigments found in the over a hundred varieties of the fish today. Goldfish first arrived in Europe in the 1600s and the United States in the 1800s, becoming what is likely thefirst foreign fish speciesintroduced to North America. (Read more about the history of goldfish here.)

Goldfish have two sets of paired fins and three sets of single fins. They dont have barbels, sensory organs some fish have that act like taste buds. Nor do they have scales on their heads. They also dont have teeth and insteadcrush their foodin their throats.

The fish are known for having large eyes and great senses of smell andhearing. Their ability to hear comes fromsmall bonesnear their skull that link their swim bladder and their inner ear.

If you feel like a challenge, try counting thenumber of scaleson a goldfish. It should have between 25 and 31. Then, estimate its length. According to theGuinness Book of World Records, the worlds longest pet goldfish is 18.7 inches and is owned by a man in the Netherlands.

Goldfish go from cute to villainous when released into the wild. Theyre known to carry disease and parasites, as well as breed with wild carp in the area.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 goldfish were discovered in a lake nearBoulder, Colorado, in 2015, and researchers have even found large goldfish inLake Tahoe.

The fishs size is usually constrained by the size of its tank. But with enough food, proper water temperatures, and ample room to roam, goldfish can balloon.

People around the world occasionally pull in monster goldfish, a far cry from the miniature versions were accustomed to. ABritish teencaught a whopping five-pounder in 2010, and a fisherman onMichigans Lake St. Clairsnagged a three-pounder in 2013.

Commercial fishermen on the Great Lakes have startedmaking a profitfrom the invasive species. The almost 90,000 pounds of goldfish caught in Michigan in 2015 brought in nearly $70,000 in revenue.

In 2015, theCanadian governmentbegged people to stop releasing their pets into ponds. As an invasive species, it canharm native fish populationsby disrupting sediment with its feeding habits, scooting along the bottom of a body of water and stirring up dirt. Sometimes goldfish even eat the eggs of native critters, likesalamanders in Idaho, or disturb vegetation other fish want to munch on too.

TheU.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicerecommends pet owners who no longer want their goldfish either put it up for adoption (yes, furry friends arent the only pets that might get a second chance on life) or ask a local vet or pet store how to humanely euthanize and dispose of it.

Theres even anaquarium in Paristhat takes in otherwise unwanted goldfish. Flushing them down the toilet? Mon Dieu!

Goldfish are ahardyaquatic species. They can deal with temperature fluctuations, changes in pH, cloudy water, and even low dissolved oxygen levels.

If released into the wild, goldfish can group up into whats called a school. But they dont need companions to be happy in captivity and are fine if kept separately in a tank.

Because theyre not an aggressive species, they can be paired in a tank with fish that arent vastly different in size. Theyre also smarter than may meet the eye.Researchers foundthat they can be trained to tell the difference between Bach and Stravinskys classical music.

In captivity, goldfish usually eat pellet or flake food.Supplements, however, are recommended to better mimic their natural diet. In nature, they eat worms, larvae, small crustaceans like brine shrimp, and even salad fixings like peas and lettuce. Its recommended that goldfish owners add greenery to the bowl since the fish like eating live plants.

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