Fairground goldfish celebrate their 34th birthday

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When Hayley and Matthew Wright both won a pet goldfish at the fair in 1977, little did they know that their casually acquired pets would still be going strong 34 years later, but Splish and Splash the goldfish have done just that.

The fish were won at a fun fair in Cheltenham in November 1977 when Hayley and Matthew were nine and six, and were placed in a Pyrex cooking bowl at the Wright family home in the absence of more suitable quarters, but were soon moved to a second hand plastic tank.

Years passed, and the Wright children grew up and left home, but Splish and Splash carried on, surviving against the odds in a goldfish bowl. The Wright's parents, Ann and Richard finally decided that perhaps a bowl wasn't the best way of housing the fishy pair, and eight years ago upgraded their accommodation to a glass aquarium equipped with a filter and lights for the now 13cm/5" Splish and Splash to see out their old age in.

During their long lives Splish and Splash have had no special treatment that explains their longevity, only regular water changes and pinches of flake food, but show no signs of leaving the Wright family yet, although they have lost their orange colour and faded to a silvery pink in the last couple of years.

The current holder of the Guinness world record for oldest goldfish is "Tish", another funfair survivor who died aged 43 in 1999.

Goldfish are one of the most poorly treated and misunderstood fish kept in the hobby, subject to a host of myths, from their suitability for life in a glass bowl to their three second memories. However they are in fact long lived, large fish best kept in ponds or large aquariums.

Given appropriately sized, well maintained accommodation it is not unusual for goldfish to survive well in excess of 15 years and grow to over 25cm/10"long. Sadly the majority of fish won at fairs are doomed to a short, unhappy life, unlike the trend-bucking Splish and Splash.

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