A Fishy Tale

But, this one is real, genuine.

It’s well known that folks go to extremes and spend big bucks on their pets.  Cats, Dogs, Horses, Birds, Guinea Pigs….but goldfish?  Read on. 

It all started some years ago when friends Mollie and David, who restored a 17th century house near here, decided to buy a few goldfish for their “bassin” (spring-fed basin).  Shortly thereafter they noticed huge herons swooping down on the bassin.  The fish were nowhere to be found.  They figured they had become bird food.  So, they bought a few more, only later to discover the original fishies had just been in hiding.

 All survived and multiplied  — in profusion. They even named some of the fish: Mister Gold, Mister Silver, Chocolate Drop. Many quadrupled (or more) in size and grew into beautiful, multi-colored specimens.  Mollie and David became attached to their underwater pets and proudly showed them off to visitors.

All was not well, however, as it appeared the bassin was losing water.  Not great amounts at first.  So, they just refilled.

This summer the small leaks grew to rivers of escaping water.   The water level was descending at a rapid level.  The precious fish were in danger of asphyxiation.  No problem.  They’d buy an inflatable swimming pool and transfer the fish to a temporary home while they repaired the leaks.

Inflating the pool and filling it were challenging, time-consuming tasks.   Meanwhile, water continued to escape from the bassin, so they kept refilling. It was a hectic race to keep the fish underwater.  Nerves were on edge.  Tension soared.  The fight for the fish was grueling.

Once the temporary fish pool was ready, the monumental task of catching the critters was underway. They called in reinforcements to assist, friends Dee and Alan. David got in the bassin and scooped with a net – over and over, then passed the net with his catch to the others who dumped it into the temporary fish pond. There were always those that got away. How many fish were there?  The supply seemed endless, mind-boggling.  Finally, at a count of 226, they had rescued all the fish. (Happy goldfish obviously have an active sex life.)

At last the fish were safe and they could take a breather and repair the bassin. Or, so they thought. After the trauma and nerve wracking tasks of fighting leaks and catching fish, David was about to enjoy a soothing shower.

Mollie and David are not just fish fanciers.  They also have three cats and a dog.  Prudence, a big gray feline, came streaking into the house drenched — looking like she stepped out of a cartoon.  She was soaked.  Mollie quickly realized she had tried to go fishing and fallen into the swimming pool/fish pond.  But, how did she get out?  Using her razor sharp claws of course, to grab onto the pool’s inflatable rim.

David was diverted from the shower and they raced to the fish pool.  Sure enough, it was punctured with tiny holes and water was gushing out.  They got the repair kit that came with the pool and started patching – all this long after the sun had gone down. They kept re-pumping the pool. They could not get all the holes sealed.  It seemed to be a losing battle. Water was still escaping – overflowing as the pool deflated.  Both wet to the bone, they worked furiously until midnight.

Every few hours that night David got up to re-inflate the pool and add more water. Thanks to his diligence, there were no dried fish for breakfast next morning.

Next day they took on the repair of the bassin.  It was an all day job, and of course they continually had to refill and re-inflate the swimming pool fish pond to keep the fishes submerged.  More stress. More anxiety.  Exhaustion.  All this to save some goldfish?

As if the fish fiasco was not enough, they had another battle to rage.  Droves of nasty wasps had taken up residence under their roof.  They dared not go near their swimming pool (a real one for humans).  Wasps love to drink swimming pool water and beware if you are in their way. They had to have a crew of men wearing space-like suits come to eradicate the wasps.

The wasps are dead. The pampered fish are alive and well and back in their bassin home – all 226 of them. And, Mollie and David are enjoying a well deserved rest.

Photos by David Regan

7 thoughts on “A Fishy Tale”

  1. Next time I want to spin some plates I shall be putting a call in to Molly and David. Resourceful as ever, the dynamic duo saved the day. I do hope the fish realise they have such expert saviours.


  2. It’s a wonderful story and so typical of Mollie and David, who I adore. They are a can-do, imaginative couple whose restored house reflects their good taste and love of the region. I’ve admired that bassin on my visits, yet had no idea it held fish. The fiasco and their energetic response made me laugh so hard. Your description of their antics was priceless, Leah. Give them my best wishes from California.

    Gloria Hickman


    1. Hi Mert,
      Here’s the answer from David:
      “The bassin is very old (maybe 18th century). It’s built of stone – but it’s sitting on clay, so as the water table changes the ground moves as the clay expands and contracts. Although we had the bassin re-lined three or four years ago, the movement recently was enough to open up an old crack which, in turn, caused the new cement lining to crack – hence the leak.”



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