Many ponders get great satisfaction in owning something truly unique, that would make their pond or yard really stand out. My motto has always been if no one else on the block has it, I want it. A few months ago I got an "it". I received a call at work from a friend, asking if I wanted an exotic catfish for my pond. An acquaintance of his was moving or clearing out his pond and needed a home for the fish. I said sure, just drop it in the smaller upper pond. My friend then stated that the thing was about 2 feet long; do I still want it? Knowing him to be an admitted fisherman and applying the proper scientific conversions my mind was seeing 14 inches tops.
It was dark when I arrived home from work. The wife and son had stated this fish was really too big for our place, maybe I should rethink the whole thing. In the dim light of dusk all that could be seen through the full covering of plants was a segment of smooth white skin. Reaching down to move the plants aside, the water exploded in my face as a mound of white flesh leaped over the side and onto the planting strip around the raised pond. I was barely quick enough to suck my eyeballs back in while simultaneously blocking any escape by pushing him(?) back into the pond. Little did I know this just provided a springboard effect, and with two running steps across the surface he was over the edge on the other side of the pond. Only the adrenalin charged nimbleness of my feet propelled me around the pond in time to prevent the 18 inch drop to the decking as he thrashed around on the sedum plantings surrounding the pond edges.
After a few minutes to calm down and digest what I had just seen, the next logical thing to do seemed to be to corral this critter until I could decide what to do with him. Off to Wal-Mart it was to buy a dozen sections of plastic garden fencing. Arriving home, I spent the next hour or two recalling my fence building days, in this case staking, curving and reinforcing the sections so a solid blow would not blast an escape route over the side.
Over the next few days my wife and I tried to figure out what to do, keep, or give away, or eat. I knew he (let's just call him Moby Kat for now), needed more room. This called for a radical cleaning and pruning of plants and planters in the upper and lower ponds, the lower one being over twice the size of the upper. There was also concerns about mixing small and larger fish in the same body of water, not knowing Moby's dining habits. With both ponds stripped bare, I was finally able to see that I was now the proud owner of one huge albino catfish. After the water settled somewhat I was able to suspend a yardstick over him and get a measurement of well over 24 inches. Guess I'll have to revise my conversion tables.
We gently segregated the smaller fish out of the lower pond into a temporary tub, then with much churning of water we captured Moby in a large net and moved him into his larger home.
My wife and I had frequent conversations about what to do at that point, with every third phrase from her being some form of "get him to someplace bigger". I traveled around town, even around the state looking for someone to receive him, OKC Zoo, OK Department of Wildlife Aquarium at the Muskogee mall, Bass Pro Shop, Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. Answers ranged from my fish guy isn't around, don't know if he fits our theme, we already have one (a mere 15 incher, no comparison at all). Only Catfish Roundup restaurant expressed a desire for him for their indoor aquarium. Then the wife decides it would be cruel to put him in something that small.
Nothing to do then but to learn how to keep a huge fish alive in a not so huge pond. We bought plenty of cold water food to fatten all the fish for the approaching winter. Globe fountains in the ponds kept the agitation going for good oxygenation, and the purchase of a floating stock tank heater kept the surface ice away. Moby seems to have adjusted well to his home, expressing his displeasure at being disturbed by cutting furrows through the water large enough to cover bystanders from waist to ankles. He seems to do well with the other life in the ponds. The only anomaly being there seems to be a multitude of snails and no string algae in the upper pond and no snails and a bumper crop of string algae in the lower one. Don't know if this is significant, but at least the algae may help oxygenate the colder winter water for the betterment of all the fish.
If he continues to thrive in our pond Moby Kat will have a welcome home for as long as he can fit into it, even though he seems to have to back up to turn around on occasion.
I've enjoyed the telling of the tale; someday I may write about "the Goldfish that Lost It's Scales" or "Man, That's a Whole Lot of Pink".