These are the people who just can’t seem to take their eyes off the tank, where their pets blaze to and fro like comets, or remain still, giving off a warm glow akin to that of the sun on a clear day. To them, their fish are so appealing, tempting, and alluring, that they just want to reach out and touch them. They would like nothing better than to pick them out of the water and run their fingers along their scales, petting them like they would any other domesticated animal, in a genuine display of affection.
To these people, I have just one thing to say: Are you kidding me?
Obviously, these people don’t know how to take care of gold fish. Ignorance is the only conceivable reason anyone who cares so much about his or her fish would want to do something that could easily do them harm. You see, for gold fish, that seemingly innocent display of affection is the kiss of death.
Everyone who knows how to take care of gold fish knows that they have to do everything they can to keep their fish’s slime coat intact. The slime coat is the thin, almost invisible, protective layer that covers the fish’s scales. It has two main functions: the first of which is to guard against bacteria, infection and disease, while the second is to keep essential electrolytes and body fluids from leaking out of the fish’s body.
Because of the critical nature of these functions, caring for gold fish necessitates keeping the slime coat in good condition. Considering how sensitive this coat is, that is no easy task. One thing’s for sure, though: petting the fish will definitely not help.
No matter how gentle the contact is, handling gold fish can easily mess with or completely remove their slime coat. So what may seem like nothing more than a simple show of love can actually jeopardize the lives of those on the receiving end of it.
This is not to say that physical contact is the only thing that could pierce the slime coat, however. Other factors such as shifts in temperature and the toxicity of the water in the tank have been known to put a few dents and holes in the fish’s armor as well. No surprise then that caring for gold fish involves maintaining a good environment as much as it does keeping our hands to ourselves.
All said, it’s always a good idea to remember that caring for gold fish is a lot different than caring for the typical pet. While most pets will enjoy a pat or two, gold fish will do everything they can to avoid the touch of our hand.