The Rosehaven Cottage pond has been home to goldfish for quite a few years now. The original batch came from Wal-Mart and proliferated each spring until we have the two generations we do now. Sadly, all the original goldfish have long since gone to fishy heaven, but their progenitors still remain. This spring I added two new baby shubunkins to the mix hoping that it would add interest into the gene pool (pardon the pun). The 5 adult goldfish (3 of which are descendants of the original Wal-Mart fish) were very prolific this spring, and we have a lovely school of babies this year in lots of interesting patterns and colorations.
For all the years that we've had goldfish in the pond, the goldfish have always been afraid of me. If they would see me moving around the pond, they would quickly hide in the foliage. It was only when we had to remove them from the pond in order to reconfigure it, did I get a chance to truly enjoy them while they resided in an 100 gallon Rubbermaid horse trough. When it was time to go back into the pond, I cried. I thought that would be the end of the fun moments I had with them coming to the sight of my hand and "asking" for food with their little fishy lips. It was a bittersweet moment as I put them back into the pond where they would be happier and healthier and do the job they were intended to do... eat mosquito larvae.
I've noticed over the summer as the babies have gotten bigger, that the goldfish were seeming to recognize me when I would come to the same spot every other day to feed them their goldfish flakes the way the older ones used to when they were in the horse trough. Were they actually recognizing me? They seemed to be.
Then just yesterday, I had to wade into the pond to replace the smaller pond pump that was on the fritz. As I walked in I noticed that the whole school of fish (big and small) was swimming toward me! There they were swimming in formation directly for my feet!
As I worked on the pump, I had the magical experience of having little baby goldfish, as well as the adult goldfish that are about 5-6 inches long, swim around my feet as if they were kitty cats swirling and rubbing on their human's feet and legs. I could feel the cool soft velvet of their goldfish bodies brush up against me, while the babies enjoyed "kissing" the inner arches of my feet as I stood in the water.
This is a first for me. I've never liked touching fish, particularly live ones. I always avoid it as much as possible--choosing to net them without touching them if I need to move them. But I didn't even freak out or feel the need to scream as they swam around my feet. It was such a peaceful and serene moment.
I guess goldfish aren't quite as dumb as they are believed to be. They have enough intelligence to recognize me and know that I'm not a raccoon or a white egret.