Fish talk Posted on August 17, 2012

We have just moved a dozen mirror carp from the spacious duck pond, which I’m told has far too many, to the much smaller pond with Japanese pretensions, a little rock cascade and a stone lantern, where we can see and enjoy them much better. It has been fascinating watching them deploy in their new quarters. I don’t suppose they enjoyed being caught and released. How does a carp convey chagrin? At first they didn’t seem to recognize the bread I offered them as an apology. Perhaps they are short-sighted?


Then one of the big ones, perhaps 18 inches long, took a sniff, opened his ugly white lips, gave a noisy slurp and swallowed it. Others paid no attention. The four smallest fish were most timid, staying almost motionless on the

bottom of the slightly shallower end. A senior flotilla decided on a station under a bushy willow (Salix rosmarinifolia) that shades the deeper part. Sometimes they move to investigate a hosta fortunei whose broad leaves overhang the water, or go and have a sniff at the splashes under the cascade.

Their relationships keep me guessing. They can crowd together, swimming at cross purposes, sometimes bumping but seemingly ignoring one another. They can commune, two or three at a time, evidently in conversation. When one or two of the seniors enter the nursery end the littl’uns form up and play follow-my-leader for a while.


Considering they were kidnapped at random in a pond with a community of hundreds it is unlikely they have an established hierarchy: that is something they are probably working on as I write. There is some sort of organization down there in the murky water. Wouldn’t I love to understand it?

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