Here’s a quick science lesson in caring for gold fish:
Chances are you’ve already heard of the concept of thermal expansion somewhere, or you’re still familiar with it even if it’s been years since you took it up in high school. I won’t bother going into detail, but it’s basically the process wherein metal expands when heated.
Now if you’re anything like me, the best part of that lesson was watching what happened when the metal was suddenly cooled (thermal contraction). The red-hot metal reacted violently when it was dipped in sub-zero water, immediately and noisily being disfigured by the unforgiving drop in temperature.
Now I’m not saying that gold fish are comparable to metal in all respects. I just wanted to tap in to what should be a common but fascinating memory to drive home my point. That point being that gold fish, like metal, can suffer drastic and irreversible effects as a result of sudden shifts in temperature.
Any expert in caring for gold fish would tell you that you have to be wary of the temperature of the water in your gold fish aquarium, especially if you’ve just recently cleaned it out or you’ve just bought your gold fish from the pet store and are about to transfer it into your tank for the first time.
Why? Because it’s hardly a given that the water fresh from the tap is already down to room temperature, or that the temperature of your gold fish aquarium is the same as that of the pet store’s. And if the difference between the two temperatures is much too big, then there’s a possibility that your fish will not only suffer, but die.
Gold fish are surprisingly capable of living comfortably in a relatively wide temperature range. Some have even proved capable of surviving in temperatures cold enough for thin sheets of ice to form on the surface, while others have been living in temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius for hundreds of years.
Despite the great disparity between the coolest and warmest temperatures they can endure, however, they were only able to last because these temperatures were more or less constant, and even if they weren’t, it’s likely that the changes were gradual, not sudden.
What does all this mean? Simple. Properly caring for gold fish is just a tad more complicated than you thought.
No worries, though. Keeping track of the temperature isn’t as hard as you think. All it takes is presence of mind and a little getting used to. And at least you can take comfort in the fact that you’re one step closer to being an expert at caring for gold fish, if not a master at thermodynamics.