A fishy story of survival

Four and a half months after the devastating earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand in February killing 181 people, two creatures were found alive. Two goldfish, trapped in their tank in a downtown office badly hit by the quake, managed to survive for 134 days without food or electricity to power the filter in their tank.

Even though goldfish are “very hardy critters”, according to Paul Clarkson, curator at the Monterey Bay aquarium in California, quoted by the Associated Press, it is incredible that they managed to survive for so long without care. The water was probably kept clean enough to sustain life with the help of naturally growing bacteria. Clarkson also believes the fish found a food source in the seaweed and algae growing in their 100-liter tank.

The truth, however, may be more gloomy than Clarkson’s version of this survival story. There were originally six fish in the tank. Two were found alive and another one was found floating in the tank. But there was no sign of the remaining three fish. Given that goldfish are omnivores, it is likely that the two creatures survived off eating their companions.

The fish tank was on display in the reception area of a building in Christchurch’s high street when the earthquake hit. The place was made off-limits afterwards because of risk of collapse, until earlier this month.

New Zealand authorities finally allowed Vicky Thornley, the director of a company based in a building in question, into her office on July 6. It was then that she and the recovery workers who accompanied her found the goldfish alive.

Vicky took the two survivors home and gave them to her son, who put them together with two other fish. So far, there are no cannibalistic acts to report.


Domestic goldfish. Author: Heptagon. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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