Around August last year I noticed there was some odd behaviour in one of my aquariums. Adolf and Clarke, my 5-year old Orandas, seemed to have fallen out. Clarke, the bigger of the two, had taken to chasing Adolf continuously, butting him on the flanks with his head and the poor little guy looked exhausted. On close inspection, I could see that Clarke had something strange on his front fins – on both sides there was what looked like a row of tiny beads. Apart from looking quite droopy, Adolf seemed unchanged.
Consulting the online oracle, I found that the strangeness on Clarke’s fins were indicators that he is a definite male, mature enough to breed. As both fish are the same age, I reached the conclusion that Adolf was a somewhat unfortunate name for Clarke’s life-time companion. The hustling that Clarke engaged in were his attempts to get Adolf to spawn. To do this, Adolf needed a suitable place, a spawning mop. So I constructed a nice traily mop out of boiled wool and a cork, and sat back to wait for the new family. Apparently goldfish will mate mostly as the room brightens up around dawn, so I made sure lights were off in the room at night and curtains left open.
Every day I came downstairs and inspected the mop. The sign that spawning had occurred would be lots of tiny little bead like objects, stuck to the mop. The object was to rescue the mop before mom and dad made a meal of their own babies.
After three days I was thrilled to see what looked like hundreds of little shiny beads tangled in the wool. Carefully, I lifted the mop out and transferred it to a nursery tank, and waited. And waited. and waited. Nothing happened. It seems that either I had taken the mop out too soon, or Clarke was not the man I thought he was. I was a little disappointed, but at least, I told myself, I didn’t have to face trying to raise a huge bunch of babies, cull them (eek) find names for them (Blub #1, Blub#2, Blub #3 etc. had crossed my mind). So there it was, close, but no cigar for Clarke.
NB, I left the tank running as I needed to have a spare cycled tank to house any new fish that move into Baskerville Manor. Towards the end of September, I noticed two tiny little transparent things flicking around in there, less than half a centimetre long. By mid-October, they had developed into two tiny orandas. Congratulations, Adolf and Clarke.