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#67 Goldfish

Posted April 27th, 2008 by Peter · 8 Comments

High in the mountains of China, around the year 1000 A.D, there were a handful of Buddhist Sung Dynasty monks that kept small garden ponds. These ponds promoted ‘Feng Shui,” or harmony and balance. However, there was one huge problem: stagnant ponds with no fish meant a breeding ground for blood sucking mosquitoes! If there is anything that Chinese people hated more than those big hairy Mongolians, it was probably the mosquito. Mosquito bites are not ‘Feng Shui” approved. So these monks went down the nearby stream to catch fish for their pond. After much trial and error (i.e. floaters), they found a strain of fish that worked perfectly for their small ponds””The Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius).

These carp were originally a boring olive color, and looked like your average fish. However, the Chinese monks found in every generation some special mutations. The first mutation was the golden color. For that reason, they began breeding these carps for their golden color. Soon, after a few centuries, these mutants had been selectively bred for other characteristics, including: round bodies, double tails, ‘bubble” eyes, telescope eyes, and the unforgettable brainy head growth known as the ‘wen.” They were now not called the Crucian Carp anymore””they became known as the goldfish (Carassius auratus).

Around the advent of international transportation, these specimen began to be discovered in other various East Asian countries. The new countries, which spanned from Japan all the way in Indonesia, began creating their own breeds. Apparently, many other asian countries also fell in love with these shiny fish, which subsequently became a sign of good luck. The fish were so important to Asian cultures that they were included in ancient artwork, poetry, and tapestries.

Today, chances are, if come across an Asian household with a fish tank, it would most likely be Goldfish. Asian relationship with these wobbly swimming, air gulping, poop machines have endured the test of time. Maybe the fact that they can survive in unmaintained fish tanks for a month is appealing (because everybody knows Asians are too busy trying to conquer the world). Maybe it’s the fact that they can be the difference between social harmony and pure anarchy (not likely). Whatever the case maybe, chances are these living gems will be with us for another 1000 years.

Written By b0yz2minh

Last 5 posts by Peter

Tags: Activities · Chinese · Chores · Comedy · Culture · Customs · Environment · Habits · History · Hobbies · Tidbits

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 megan // Apr 27, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    my roommate got goldfish for her Asian sorority and when they didn’t need them anymore, she brought them back to our room.

    we moved them from a tiny mixing bowl and filled up a giant tupperware container with water. i changed the water twice a day and spent hours on the internet trying to look up information on how to take care of them. i read that they liked lettuce so i took lettuce from the cafeteria. i also tried to feed them rice. i begged a petsmart employee to let me in just as they were closing so I could buy a filter for the fish. I ran them under water for about 30 minutes a day because I didn’t have a bubbler. They were my roommate’s fish and I did about 95% of the work.

    they all still died within the first week. we buried them in some flowerbeds in the middle of the night. life is so, so cruel.

  • 2 Peter // Apr 28, 2008 at 7:33 am

    hahhaha. my family used to havea bunch of em, but they also kept dying off because of lack of filtering.


  • 3 Poetsong // May 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I learned that what the Japanese call Koi and what I call Gold fish are to very different kinds of fish.

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    [...] You know how it is: 3pm comes and goes and your working on a press release for 5pm. Lunch hasn’t happened yet so you nip down to The New Empire for a 5 minute Chinese to keep your brain cells ticking. Problem is that when you get back to the keyboard you’ve forgotten everything you were supposed to have in your email: Your brain has shut down and you have the memory of and senile goldfish. [...]

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  • 8 ilovehorseyrides // Jul 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

    How to keep an Asian baby or toddler happy at restaurants in Chinatown?

    1) find a huge aquarium with live fish and/or lobster
    2) put the kid in front of the tank
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