Monday, December 29, 2014

Calendar Giveaway Winner!

Well guys, the results are in and we have a winner!  If you are the viewer with the YouTube username Cro J., please send me a private message on YouTube within 48 hours to claim your prize.  You got question 3 only partially correct, but I'll give it to you anyways!  I tried something different with this giveaway by having you guys go on a video "scavenger hunt" and answer questions from my older videos.  I hope you guys had fun with it even if you didn't win!  The questions were as follows, and the correct answers are in green.  

1. How many new goldfish did Jennie receive from Dandy Orandas in this video?
The correct answer is: Jennie received 5 new goldfish from Dandy Orandas.  Two were pandas (Sophie and Clyde) and the others were red/white (Benji, Monocle, and Minai).
2. As you learned in this Solid Gold video, what is one way to tell if your goldfish is a male?
The correct answer is any of the following: males typically have breeding stars, males typically have a more narrow and elongated vent shape than females, males generally have a more slim body shape than females, males chase females during breeding season and during spawning.

3. What two awards did Jennie's fish, Clyde, win at the 2014 MAS show?
The correct answer is: Clyde won the Peoples' Choice award and 2nd place in the goldfish and koi category.  This was not part of the question, but some people also answered that Jennie's artwork won first place in the fine art category.

You can still purchase your very own Solid Gold Calendar at the links below!
Standard Size →
Oversized →

The calendar is for Patricia, but the thank-you message goes out to each and every one of you!

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Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 Solid Gold Calendar Unboxing + Giveaway!

Watch as I unbox the new 2015 Solid Gold Calendar!  I'm also giving away a standard size calendar to one lucky viewer.  :)  Please follow the instructions in the video to enter.  Or, if you'd rather not wait (who could blame you, really?!) follow one of these things to purchase your own now.

Standard size →

Oversized →

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Goldfish Learning to use an Interactive Feeder

Finding ways to provide enrichment has been an increasingly popular focus for zoos, aquariums, animal shelters, and the like in recent years.  Enrichment means finding ways to allow the captive animal to exercise behaviors that come naturally to it; behaviors it would do in the wild if it could.  Carp are scavengers by nature; they spend a lot of time sifting through detritus to find bits of algae and invertebrates to eat.  We see this in our captive goldfish as well when they sift through the sand or gravel bottoms of our aquariums looking for morsels of food.  When your goldfish picks up a piece of gravel and appears to "chew" on it for a while, he is actually sucking tiny microbes off the gravel surface.  

So if goldfish naturally have to "work" to find their food, how can we replicate this in an aquarium?  I took a hint from those interactive dog and cat food puzzles you can find in pet stores and made an interactive food-releasing toy for my fish.  I made this over year ago, but pulled it out of storage the other day to give Navi a crack at it.  The result was so cute I almost couldn't even handle it!  See for yourself...

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Thoughts on Culling

I realized after sharing this photo on my Facebook page that a lot of people are very curious about culling.  A few people even have some serious misconceptions about culling and goldfish breeding.  I am by no means a geneticist or an expert long-time goldfish breeder, but allow me to try to clear some things up based upon my experience and what I have read from the experiences of many long-time goldfish breeders.

"Culling is a fact of life for the goldfish breeder"

Culling is a fact of life for the goldfish breeder, and let me tell you why.  The percentage of fry from any given spawn that will be worth keeping can vary greatly depending upon the parent fish.  If the parent fish have been scrupulously line bred for many generations, a higher percentage of the fry will look like the parents.  That's what goldfish breeders aim for, and Japanese top view ranchu (TVR) are a pretty good example of this.  But generally speaking, the majority of all fry from a single goldfish spawn will not be worth keeping.  Goldfish genes "want" to revert back to their wild type (a brown single-tailed carp) over time because the qualities we prize so highly (telescope eyes, double tail, pearled scales, lack of dorsal fin, etc.) are all recessive genes.  If you placed a few grand champion pearlscales into a pond and allowed them to breed without interference for many generations, you would end up with a pond full of brown single-tailed carp before too long.  Goldfish are inbred; that's how breeders can get them to appear the way they do.  Breeders walk the fine line of making sure their fish are healthy and have a good quality of life while also meeting the variety's standards.  It's not an easy task!  Next time you meet a long-time goldfish breeder, please thank them for keeping these varieties alive for us to enjoy. 

If you love goldfish; great!  If you dislike culling; okay!  That's your opinion and I respect that.  However, it's not intellectually honest to love goldfish while simultaneously condemning culling.  Do you know why?  Because the goldfish as we know it could not possibly exist today without the very beneficial practice of culling.  A single goldfish spawn can yield thousands of fry.  Because we fish keepers do such a good job these days of caring for our fish and providing them with an ideal environment that's completely free from predators or any other dangers, almost none of them will be killed off by "natural" means.  (Just as an aside, even if they were allowed to be killed off by "natural" means, the ones that would have been killed off are the very ones that resemble their variety the best.  Traits like telescope eyes, double tail, and pearled scales, make them less "fit" for their natural environment meaning they cannot compete with their siblings who have more wild type characteristics.)  That means every single time your goldfish spawn (and goldfish can spawn every 5-7 days for many months on end depending upon the climate) you'll have thousands of fish who will soon grow up to require a minimum of 10 gallons of space each.  Even if you had unlimited space, money, and time to raise all those thousands of fish to adulthood, do you really think you could find quality homes for each and every single one of those fish (many of whom are severely deformed and cannot swim or eat properly)?  And on top of that, could you maintain a line of fish that are relatively true-breeding so that we can still have the ryukin, oranda, and telescope goldfish varieties that we love so much?  It would be an impossible task.

"the goldfish as we know it could not possibly exist today 
without the very beneficial practice of culling"

Okay, so we now understand why breeders cull their fish.  But what exactly do they do with the fish they have selected to be culled?  There are a vast number of ways breeders deal with their culls.  Some breeders euthanize the culls with clove oil, while others feed them to their adult fish.  Yet others sell culls to their local pet store if the culled fry are a bit older.  It just depends. 

In the early stages, when the fry are only a few weeks old, breeders look for major deformities; most obviously severely crooked spines.  These fry will not survive well in the future.  Remember, the breeder is trying to maintain a line of fish that is healthy and viable.  As the fry grow, the breeder begins to notice more deformities that are not quite as severe, but still limit the ability of the fish to thrive.  Slightly bent spines, buoyancy issues, deformed mouths, etc.  Something I read a long time ago on the Goldfish Keepers Forum that has since become my culling mantra is "a small flaw on a small fish will become a big flaw on a big fish".  Breeders look for these small flaws and try to weed out these fish as soon as possible so that the truly exceptional fish don't suffer from overcrowding or the need to compete for resources.  As the fry grow larger and begin to actually look like goldfish, more minor flaws will become apparent.  Things like tripod tails, single anal fins, bumps on an otherwise smooth ranchu back, and other minor flaws disqualify the fish from being an exceptional example of its variety.  Fish like this are sometimes referred to as "pet grade".  At this point, the breeder certainly has the option to sell the culls to their local pet store, as many do.

"a small flaw on a small fish will 
become a big flaw on a big fish" 

I hope I was able to shed some light for you about culling and perhaps help you see why it's an integral part of goldfish breeding.  Promoting awareness about all aspects of goldfish care is the focus of Solid Gold.  If you want to learn more about goldfish genetics or goldfish breeding I would refer you to the book "Goldfish Breeding and Genetics" by Joseph Smartt and also the Goldfish Keepers Forum for lots of good discussion by experienced long-time goldfish breeders.  Thanks for reading and thank you for helping Solid Gold grow the hobby. 

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Monday, December 8, 2014

2015 SOLID GOLD Calendar!

It's finally here! I'm very excited to announce that the 2015 SOLID GOLD calendar is now available for purchase!  This awesome calendar comes in standard 8.5"x11" size or oversized 11"x17" size and makes a great gift for a goldfish-loving friend (but I won't judge you if you just buy it for yourself!). It features adorable butterfly telescope goldfish from the SOLID GOLD family that have been artfully photographed by goldfish artist Jennifer Lynx.  Please follow the links below to purchase.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Perfect Rack for 40 Gallon Tanks

I found this shelving unit from Lowe's that fits two 40 gallon breeder tanks perfectly.  This means no more tanks on the floor of my dining room!  This is only half of the shelf, it can actually hold four tanks.  It's nice because it's heavy duty and can certainly hold the weight, but it also has a polished look to it so it doesn't seem too terribly out of place in my living area.  

Link Edsal Steel Shelving Unit

My new fish, Navi, is being quarantined in the bottom tank and my 3-week-old butterfly fry are up top (yes, I'm raising fry again!).  Once Navi's quarantine is over, I'll be able to move half of the fry to the bottom tank to give them more space to grow out.  I'm loving this setup!  In fact, I'm super tempted to run out to Petco the next time they have their dollar-per-gallon tank sale and grab two more 40 gallon breeder tanks so I can set up the other half of the shelf too...  who needs a dining room when you can have a fish room, right?!   

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Monday, December 1, 2014

New Fish From Dandy Orandas

Meet Navi (nah-vee), the newest member of the Solid Gold gang!  She is a red/white butterfly telescope from Dandy Orandas and she arrived on Tuesday, November 25th.  Navi arrived in pretty good shape except for a slight break in the leading ray of her dorsal fin.  It probably won't heal quite right (you'll always be able to tell there was a break), but I'm glad that she's at least still able to hold her dorsal fin upright.  Since I'm using her for breeding, not for showing, I'm not too worried about it.

She's begun to settle in, but I'm still feeding her sparingly so she can fully recover from shipping.  It's funny; when I drop a piece of food in her tank, you can clearly tell when she detects the smell.  She'll just be drifting about all peacefully, but as soon as the smell of the food hits her nostrils, she becomes a typical food-crazed foraging goldfish!  It's very cute. 

Here's an unboxing video in which I talk a little bit about how to quarantine your new fish, what I look for in a quality butterfly telescope, and I give my opinion about buying goldfish online from Dandy Orandas!

Here are some more pictures of Navi for your enjoyment.  I hope you love her as much as I do!  Here's to an uneventful quarantine. 

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