"Look after your pond while you're away?
Of course! Not a problem. No problemo. Had a goldfish myself once. Died. But it's still experience, isn't it?
Anything I need to know? Any special dietary requirements? Any ill ones, rare or particularly valuable specimens that I need to keep an eye out for?
And you're absolutely sure that there's nothing to freak me out, because I don't like weird fish. Normal fish are fine, like living ornaments, prettily floating about, mindlessly trying to remember how long their memory is and if they left the gas on, but deformed ones, or dead ones, or ones that just look like they've generally had a hard time don't inspire pity, they inspire unmitigated disgust and abject horror, don't they?
Yes. Glad you understand. It's not very fair and I'm not proud of it, but it's not just me is it? I think it's quite prevalent across the human spectrum. It's just the way we are with fish.
Fish come in categories you see. Pretty (your guppies and Nemos and such like); tasty (your cod and Birdseye bite-size reclaimed fish chunks); scary (Great white sharks and things with saws where their noses should be) or madly gross (deformed or dead for more than a day).
Nothing like that then? No? good. Bye then. Have a nice holiday".
Right. Fish care time.
Ooh, lovely pond. Some blue LED lights to frighten tadpoles at night, a pot of fishy pellets for me to scatter both hither and yon, netting to keep the herons off, all tickety-boo and normal for your pond dwelling fauna:
Some lilies, little waterfall in the back there, dribbling down those fibreglass rocks all picturesque like, nice plants on the side, and obviously the fish, all golden and orange and yellows and OHMYSWEETBABYSANTA!
What the chuff is that!
Eeeeewwwwww! Deformed fish! Deformed fish!
It looks like someone's stuck a bicycle pump up whatever fish have instead of anuses and inflated it to 32 psi.
I see you there, slinking under that big leaf, trying to get out of sight, and rightly so. All nasty and not fit for plain view, rolling lethargically from side to side like a badly designed car ferry.
It's moving slowly, and every now and then gets bumped by the other beautiful fish in the pond, causing it to rotate gently like a novelty beach ball with a head and tail, but it valiantly manages to get back the right way up and swims for cover again.
Makes it hard to get a good clear pic of the piscean freak, but you can see how godawful it is. Come on, show us your abnormality. Don't be shy. I'm not going to eat you.
That would really freak me out.
It's not even as though it will be beautiful on the inside. Have you seen the inside of a fish? It's like a slug fight in there.
Even the other fish shun it, with their streamlined shapes and smooth hydrodynamic gliding, constantly looking at their reflections in the undersurface of the pond's meniscus, probably gloating in that well known fishy way about how beautiful they are, about how they don't need immune systems because they're too pretty to get ill, not like old Lumpy McSphere over there.
He doesn't retaliate. He simply wobbles back under the leaf, away from the harsh unforgiving sunlight which has no qualms about revealing his distorted features, then throws a fin across his face and cries "Don't look at me! Shlurp. Don't look at me!"
Now I feel guilty.
Maybe I can help. Does it need a vet? Or would a vet be all "Ew! Gross! I'll put my entire arm up a cow's arse but if you think I'm touching a deformed fish you've got another think coming." And then charge me forty quid for the consultation because that's what vets do when they tell you what you already know but use bigger words like "vaccinations" and "willful neglect" and "RSPCA". Smartarses.
No. A vet isn't the way forward. Something more practical is required.
How about one of those pet warehouses. Pets Sat at Home or whatever they're called. You know, they've got puppies stacked to the rafters and budgies on quick turnaround, three to a cardboard tube, and you can get monosyllabic professional advice from a teenager on minimum wage who thinks a bat is mouse's ghost.
They sell everything for pets and pond denizens, so I expect they've got a whole shelf dedicated to the aesthetically challenged fish. That's the place to go I reckon.
I wonder if they sell tiny operatic half-masks and cloaks, maybe with a waterproof top-hat?
Not only would he be able to disguise his disfigurement, but he'd have the added advantage of being dapper. I also have it on good authority (my imagination) that top-hats are inherently good at putting off herons, so it's in a complete win/win situation!
Apart from the horrendous deformity of course.