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Myth: Do not overfeed goldfish. It will kill them.
Hypothesis:
Fish have been advancing evolutionarily until to present day. There is no evolutionary pressure to eat until you die. Fish's instincts will tell them to stop eating before it's too late.
Equipment:
  • 8 goldfish
  • 4 goldfish bowls (we used that new disposable Tupperware from Glad. Highly recommend it!)
  • 1 can fishfood
  • Scale
    Procedure:
    First we needed to obtain eight (8) goldfish. The plan was to use four (4) as controls and four (4) as experimental. The controls would be fed normally and the experimental fish would be fed innordinate quantities of food.

    Our first stop was to Topps Market to purchase fish bowls and beer.


    Topps is the closest supermarket to the fish store. Clearly the cheapest form of fishbowl was going to be the disposable tupperware containers from Glad. We picked up a 5 pack, which ran us around $2.99.


    Next we went headed towards the mall to pick up some goldfish at the pet store.


    We didn't want to pay too much, and quickly found goldfish for $0.29. There was a price break at 6, so we decided on 10 fish at $0.15 a pop.


    There was much debate about whether we should bring the tupperware into the store and ask the lady to put the fish directly in tupperware. On one hand, they do give you the fish in baggies, but on the other hand, it is pretty sketchy to ask for fish in tupperware. We decided not to (but Ton brought them just in case).


    As it turned out, the lady at the pet store took her fish quite seriously. It was a good thing we didn't bust out the kitchenware- she was very concerned that we might not have a proper setup for care of 10 goldfish.

    Fish Lady: "Do you have a tank already set up? With distilled water? blah blah blah?"
    Ben: "Yeah yeah yeah. Give us 10 fish."
    Fish Lady: "How big is your tank?"
    Ben: "I don't know. About yay big."
    Fish Lady: "8 gallons?"
    Ben: "About."
    Fish Lady: "Well, you should only keep 1 inch of fish per gallon."
    Ben: "Excuse me?"
    Fish Lady: "One inch of fish per gallon of water."
    Ben: "So thowing 2 of these half-inch fish in a gallon should be just fine, right?"
    Fish Lady: ...

    That ended the conversation with the fish lady. But we conceded and took 8 fish, a net, and a jar of fish food. We made sure to buy the food that had "DO NOT OVERFEED" written across the back.


    At the register, we made sure to double check with the cashier. "Feed them whatever it says on the package," she explained. "Just don't overfeed them. They just need a pinch of food."

    Wow! It appears this myth is seriously widespread! It has infected both the fishfood company and everyone who works at the pet store. But seriously- there is no way a fish is going to eat until it dies. It just doesn't make any sense!

    The next stop was back to the supermarket to weigh our new fish. Since Topps is kind of a second-tier grocery store (With P&C coming in at number 1! Yeah! P&C run!), they don't have digital scales in their produce department. But in their candy department, they certainly did.

    We actually shopped around and found that our fish were much less expensive than both Swedish Fish and Gummi Bi-Foam Blue Sharks:


    We weighed our fish, printed a label, and were off. Pre-feeding weight (including water): 4.89 lbs. There were 9.5 cups of water in the bag. Calculating the weight of our fish before the experiment is left as an exercise for the reader.


    Next we took the fish home and began to set up the experiment.


    2 fish went into each tupperware. The extra tupperware went into Ton's pantry.
    The setup was as follows:
    Controls (Skinny Fish) Experimental (Fat Fish)
    PauliTony
    SylvioBig Pussy
    ChristopherBacala
    FurioJimmy



    Note: There was a small faction voting for a 7 fat fish 7 skinny fish Bible reference, but we concluded that the Sopranos has been more influential in our daily lives.

    Now that everything was set up, we embarked on the first feeding.

    The control fish each received 1 pinch of fishfood, in accordance with the fishfood jar.


    The experimental fish each received 1/2 teaspoon of fishfood.


    Results:
    Now we play the waiting game...
  • Day 1: All eight fish are still alive. Too early to make conclusive remarks. Hopefully these updates will be more exciting than the lion's.
  • Day 2: All eight fish are still alive. While it is still early, it is beginning to look like we were right! The overfed fish did not die! All fish were fed again with the same quantity. There does appear to be a slight distinction between the water quality in the overfed fish...


  • Day 3: Tony (fat fish) died! You might say Tony is sleeping with the fishes... Alright, that is one down. But still not statistically significant evidence. Water was changed and the fish were refed. We'll have to wait and see...


  • Day 4: Furio (skinny guinea) AND Big Pussy (fat) died!


    What does this mean? You could conclude that overfed fish are twice as likely to die within 4 days as normally fed fish. But you could also make the claim that almost exactly the same number of fat fish and skinny fish died by day 4 (only off by one). Stupid statistics showing anything you want them to show!


  • Day 5: No changes.
  • Day 6: No changes. Back to the mall for more fish food.
  • Day 7: Oh no! Bacala (fat) died! This can't be good. Is it possible our hypothesis was incorrect?


  • Day 8: Dammit.


    Conclusions:
    Well, our first experiment was a total failure. Our hypothesis was totally wrong. I think the Tetley people must know more that we give them credit for. The results of our experiment are summarized succinctly in the following graph:


    Cost Analysis:
    Item Cost
    Tupperware (x5) $2.99
    Fish (x8) $1.20
    Fishfood (x2) $5.99
    Learning to not overfeed fish Priceless

    Special thanks to Pampered Pets, Tops, Glad, and the young fish who gave their lives so the truth could be known!

    Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this experiment. All representations to real fish, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

    UPDATE 6-23-02: The surviving fish have moved into a new bowl!
    UPDATE 7-31-02: Read people's responses to our experiments!
    UPDATE 7-28-03: The three fish have moved into a pond!

    Back to Myths

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