Kathryn Searcy of Pendleton held a special 21st birthday celebration in December of 1963 — so special, in fact, that the East Oregonian sent two reporters to cover the party for the Dec. 4 edition.
The twist? Blackie, the birthday boy (or girl), was a goldfish.
Searcy knew the fish was 21, she said, because “when my grandson Steven was a baby he used to watch the fish, and Steven will be graduating from college.” Blackie had outlived three bowl-mates in his long life.
For the celebration, Searcy placed a photo of Steven next to Blackie’s bowl, and one of the reporters brought a cupcake. Blackie, however, didn’t seem interested in the festivities.
The articles about Blackie’s birthday, especially the one written by Carolyn Frown, were quite tongue-in-cheek, but the reality of goldfish ownership is that these inexpensive beauties can become longtime companions. According to The Goldfish Tank (www.thegoldfishtank.com), goldfish can live an incredibly long time with proper care. WikiHow cites a Guinness Book of World Records fish that lived 43 years after being won at a fair in England in 1956. Most goldfish, however, live for just a few years (some much less than that) because they are not treated with the same care as other, more expensive pets.
The best start to owning a goldfish (or any pet, for that matter) is to buy from a quality store or private breeder. Goldfish also need a lot of room, so a big tank is essential. As with any fish, filtration, aeration and regular changing of the water will ensure the fish’s living environment is optimal. And proper nutrition will ensure your goldfish leads a long, healthy life. The Internet has lots of great information on getting a great start with goldfish, and your local pet store also is a good source of advice.
Fish also need mental stimulation. Add plants and other decorations to spruce up the tank. Goldfish also can be trained to eat from your hand and perform simple tricks.
It’s a shame that goldfish are often considered “throw-away” pets, since owning a fish tank can provide a relaxing atmosphere in any home, and goldfish are an inexpensive way to get started. So the next time you’re at the county fair and win yourself a goldfish in a plastic bag, consider that you might just be bringing home a longtime companion, and treat it as such.