Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy 9th Birthday, Noodle

Do goldfish have personalities? Science would tell you no, but personal experience would have me disagree. Our fish swims contentedly around the bowl, swims up to greet us when we are nearby, and blows bubbles against the side of the bowl, making a "ping" sound to get our attention. (At least that's the way we interpret it!) Noodle is one of two pets in the Calandro household. We have a dog, Mabel, and our goldfish, Noodle. I know to most people, goldfish are nothing special- but Noodle has become part of our family and we are so happy this hardy little fish has been with us for so long.

9 years ago we went to a birthday party and came home with the lovely parting gift of a goldfish in a small, water-filled, plastic bag. We had owned fish in the past and had a lovely Mickey Mouse fishtank with a filter, rocks and the works. For some reason (mainly thinking that most goldfish don't live that long anyway), we decided against going through the rigamarole of setting up the aquarium and ended up just putting the fish in a glass bowl that was from one of my dearest friend's weddings. We needed a name for the fish, so we turned to Max- who was 16 months old at the time. Max already had a pretty decent vocabulary at that age, and our favorite word to hear him say was "Noodle". Something about the way he shaped his mouth and stretched the "oo" sound in the word "Noooodle" was just cute, so that's what we named the fish.

Well, two weeks went by and Noodle was still around, though every other fish from the party had been dead for over 6 days now. Then a year went by, then two... We realized that this fish may actually stick around for a while! Noodle was three years old when our second son was born.

When Noodle was 4, we started adding a blurb about the fish in our Christmas letter. When Noodle was 6, we decided to move. The move was traumatic for all of us as it also involved the remodel of the new house. Our dog, Mabel, ran away 3 times during this move (fortunately she came back unharmed each time- we did lock her up- she just kept escaping). Since we were not staying in our house each day, we needed to find a place for Noodle.

We took Noodle down to our neighbor's house and he kept the fish for almost a month. We were a little worried, because Noodle was the oldest fish we knew and we didn't want anyhing to happen to our pet. Our friend took wonderful care of Noodle and grew very attached to this little fish. He was so sad to see Noodle leave and considered getting a fish of his own, but then told us that it wouldn't be the same if it wasn't Noodle.

When our third son turned 1, Noodle was 7 years old. We had a "Commotion in the Ocean" party. We bought lots of fish for our guests and placed them in bowls around the house as part of our party decorations (we Calandros love a good theme- more on that in other blogs). Everyone went home with a fish. We did not put any other fish in Noodle's bowl as we didn't want to upset whatever balance we have created for this fish.

The remaining fish from the party were put in the Mickey Mouse Aquarium with the rocks and filter. The fish that were in that aquarium were dead within two weeks. All of the fish that went home with guests died within 3 months. Noodle, the Methuselah of goldfish, just kept on living...

We have often thought of getting Noodle a larger bowl, but we're worried about upsetting the order of things. This great little fish is in the same bowl it started in 9 years ago. I went online this morning to research a title for this post- I was going to call it "The World's Oldest Goldfish" but then I found out that the world's oldest goldfish was 42 years old! Noodle is nowhere close! 9 years, however, is a record for anyone that we know and one worth celebrating.

So, how do you keep a goldfish alive for this long? We're not sure, but here's what we do:

1. Treat the fish with benign neglect- When the bowl is so dirty, I can't see the fish, I clean the bowl. I feed the fish regularly- meaning when I think about it- and in small amounts.

2. Don't mess with the system-I use regular tap water in the bowl, and I always let it sit for 24 hours before I add it to Noodle's bowl. I do this to lessen the effects of any chlorine that may be in the water, but who knows if it actually does anything. I figure it has worked for this long, so why mess with it?

3. No harsh cleansers-I use hot water to clean the bowl and dry it with a cloth towel (I read somewhere that whatever paper towels are treated with can be harmful to fish)- again, maybe it has no effect, but it has worked for this long!

4. Enjoy your fish!

Who knows, maybe Noodle will be the next "World's Oldest Living Goldfish"! After 9 years, Noodle is definitely a member of the family. We hope to have many more happy years with Noodle.

You can follow Noodle at