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Dead Fish Dumb Fish: The Local Koi Pond

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My school has a lovely “frog pond” by the Arts Center, but it hasn’t had frogs in it for the past couple of years. This time last year, the school put some koi fish in and forgot about them.

This was after I got my infamous koi tattoo, so I bonded with them very quickly. My favorite is a bruiser named Fred.


He's a fatty

I was pleasantly surprised when the fish, who were ignored during the winter, emerged (mostly) unharmed during last week’s big melt. The pond is shallow enough that it sometimes freezes all the way down, but we did have a mild winter…so there were probably only a couple inches of ice at most.

In fact, there was a whole host of new fish…babies had grown into teens, teens had grown into adults, and all these little buggers who’d been practically microscopic in the fall were swimming around being adorable.


Two of the striped fish (named Benny and Jenette) seem to have had babies together. Benny and Jenette’s babies are…special.

I’ll try to get a video of this at some point, but here’s a brief explanation: The striped babies all float up at the surface, sometimes on their sides, and look quite dead. Then, they’ll start twisting around, doing acrobatics and otherwise looking like they have some kind of neurological tic before they swim off and repeat the process somewhere else.

My friend Paige and I have created a name called “Dead Fish Dumb Fish”, where we call out when we see a fish that could either be dead or just spastic.

They’re usually spastic.

Does anyone know what’s going on here? Google tells me parasites cause odd movement, but all the baby fish who do this look alike…so I’m just going with the hypothesis that Benny and Jenette made themselves a spastic batch of babies.

Maybe their home life is especially stressful.

Today, there was more good news: Oodles and oodles of eggs!


Like this, but on reeds instead of on sushi!

We spotted five big clusters without looking very hard, so we’re potentially talking dozens of baby fish.

The internet tells me that fish often eat their first few batches of eggs because they’re “still figuring things out”. If Fred eats the babies, I’m cutting off his banana bread supply for at least a week.

In all seriousness, I think most of the fish in the pond have spawned successfully before…so hopefully they know what they’re doing.

I’m looking forward to seeing the process, though I’ll probably miss the hatching as our break is next week. Pictures to follow!



About Rachel

Rachel Feltman is a 20 year old Simon's Rock alum and a grad student at NYU SHERP. She loves writing about science, and would one day like to be paid to do so. Please.

4 responses »

  1. The frog pond is now a koi pond? That’s awesome!

  2. claudiaeberger

    My theory still is there is not enough genetic diversity in the pond. Inbred little fuckers.

  3. Pingback: Dead Fish – Dumb Fish | Online Koi

  4. I didn’t know you had a sushi pond at SR. It explains the increase in the student activities fee.


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