Brendan Gara Photography



Carp at the Citadel, Hue.

We kept seeing similar fishponds throughout Vietnam, ornamental fish held in great esteem.  I suppose this comes from the Chinese influence and especially the Han dynasty around 2000 years ago.  Carp represent wealth and prosperity and there are no surprises in that symbol still being embraced by modern Vietnam.

I like watching fish; I think once you have worked with them for a while you become adept at working out where they will be in a body of water.  You tend to be able to look in the right place and see them, when other people just see water and weeds.  I’d guess that fishermen (definitely dedicated ones) can do the same thing, you tend to get a feel for these things, so you know where to look in a river, stream, lake, pond instinctively.

With ornamental carp though, it’s kind of hard not to see them.  I think that’s maybe why I don’t really get the whole wealth and prosperity thing with them.  They’re just too obvious, too flashy.  Sure, I’ll buy a bag of feed at a water park or a temple and flick the pellets out and watch them hoover up the feed, but inside I’ll be thinking this could be so much more efficient: a demand feeder at least, but really some kind of PC controlled feed gun giving the a precise ration and ensuring an optimum growth rate.

That’s why I would never have fish in a pond at home or an aquarium.  There’s too much temptation to put them on a maximum ration and want to sample weigh them every two weeks or so and predict their growth rate from their feed conversion rate.   I’d start worrying if they didn’t hit their target weight.

But I like ponds, and wildlife ponds especially so.  We have a bit of a garden in our current home, not massive, but just a nice size.  It was all concrete and paving stones, but the wife ripped it all out because she wanted honeysuckle and then some.  We put a small pond in for frogs and plants, and it went mad: frogs, flies, snails, shrimps, plants, all sorts of aquatic life, and it’s relaxing to sit and watch the sun dappling through the reeds and creeping jenny, onto the stones and gravel on the bottom.

We’ve never had the chance to put one in before.  We’ve lived in rented accommodation for years, moving at least 18 times in as many years through work and personal circumstances.  Our first owned house on the Isle of Man had a concrete yard, so no chance of digging something in (plus I worked long hours at a fish farm so wasn’t overly keen on having them back home).  New Zealand then Wales (too wet, seriously we’ve never lived anywhere that wet, but at least the kiwis have proper drains), and then onto the Falkland Isles.

There’s very little aquatic life there and the soil is very thin, digging through rocks isn’t easy.  Birmingham however has thick soft soil, easy to dig.  We put another pond in last week.  Sitting in the garden this past week with unseasonably hot weather, watching the frogs, the insects, the shrimp, the birds bathing, we decided to dig yet another pond.

No fish though.



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