Voyages and Travels in the Empire of China
. . .The Golden Fish : Their Nourishment : Full of Sport : Their Shape and Beauty : How kept,
and managed : Properest Food : Very prolific : Farther Remarks concerning them . . .
. . . BUT the most remarkable Fish, is the Kin-yu, or Golden-Fish: These are kept, either in little Ponds, made for that Purpose, wherewith the Houses of Pleasure, belonging to the Princes and great Lords, are embellished or else in Basins, which are more deep than wide: They chuse the least that can be found, because esteemed most beautiful, and a greater Number may be kept of them.
THE prettiest of them are of a curious Red, speckled, as it were, with Gold-Dust, especially towards the Tail, which is forked with two or three Points: Some are of a Silver Colour, others white, and some spotted with Red. Both Sorts are extraordinary lively and active, delighting to play on the Surface of the Water ; but then they are so tender, that the least Impression of Air, and even any violent Shaking of the Vessell will kill great Numbers of them.
THOSE bred in Ponds are of various Sizes: Some are bigger than the largest Pilchards. They teach them to rife-up to the Top of the Water at the Noise of a Clapper, which the Person uses who feeds them. According, to all Accounts, the best Way to preserve them, is to give them nothing in Winter : It is certain they do not feed them for three or four Months at Pe-king, while the very cold Weather lasts : What they live on in the mean Time, under the Ice, it is not easy to determine, unless they find little Worms in the Roots of Herbs, which grow at the Bottom of the Ponds ; or the Roots themselves, being softened by the Water, become proper Food for them. Frequently to prevent their being frozen, they are taken into the Houses, and kept the whole Winter in a Chamber, often shut-up in a China-Vessel, without being fed at all. Towards Spring they are put into the Basins again. The greatest Lords delight in feeding them with their own Hands, and spend some Time to observe their nimble Motions, sporting in the Water.
THIS Fish, at least the prettiest of them, are caught in a Lake, in the Province of Che-kyang, near the City of Chang-wha-hyen, in the District of Han-chew-fu, and at the Foot of a Mountain called Tsyen-king : But as this Lake is small it is not likely that all the Golden-Fish come from thence, which are seen in the Provinces of China, particularly those of Quang-tong and Fokyen, where this Species may be easily propagated.
ACCORDING to Le Comte, these Fish are commonly the Length of one's Finger, proportionably thick, and finely shaped. The Male is of a beautiful Red, from the Head more than halfway down the Body, and the remaining Part, together with the rail, is gilded ; being accompanied with such a bright and dazzling Lustre, that our best Gildings fall vastly short of it. The Female is white, the Tail, and some Part of the Body, having a perfect Resemblance of Silver. Their Tails are not smooth and flat, like those of other Fish, but form a Sort of Tuft, thick and long, which adds a particular Beauty to them.
THEY are kept in a very large and deep Basin, at the Bottom of which there is commonly put an Earthen-Pan, turned upside-down, with Holes in it, for them to retire from the Sun in hot Weather, for they are exceeding tender.
THE Water is changed three or four Times a Week, but in such a Manner, that the fresh runs-in, while the stale runs-out, that the Basin may never be dry: They likewise throw on the Surface certain Herbs, which keep the Water always clean and cool. When they are obliged to remove the Fish from one Vessel to another, to avoid handling them (for those which are touched die soon after, or decay) they take them up by Degrees with a fine Net, the Mouth of which is fastened round a Hoop, and d the Threads woven so close together, that they have Time to put them into fresh Water before the old runs-out. The Author observed at Sea, that every Time the Guns were fired, or Pitch and Tar melted, some of them expired. Before they live upon almost nothing. However, from Time to time their Feeders-throw-in small Bits of Paste ; but the best Thing for them are Wafers, which soaked, make a Kind of Pap they are extreamly fond of.
IN hot Countries they multiply exceedingly, provided the Spawn, that swims upon the surface of the Water, be duly taken-away; for otherwise they would devour it. Being placed in a particular Vessel exposed to the Sun, it is kept there till the Heat animates the young Fry. They are at birth quite black, which Colour some always retain ; but the rest change, by Degrees, to red or white, Gold or Silver. The Gold and Silver begin to appear at the End of the Tail, and extend more or less towards the Middle of their Bodies, according to their respective Natures.
THE following Informations were obtained by the Missioners from the Chinese, who deal in these small Fish, and get their Livelihood by breeding and selling them.
1. ALTHOUGH they are commonly no Longer than one's Finger, some grow to the Length and Thickness of the largest Herrings.
2. IT is not the red or white Colour that distinguishes the Male from the Female ; but the latter are known by several small white Spots about their Gills, and little Fins that are near them ; and the Males, by having there Places bright and shining.
3. THOUGH the Tail is commonly in the Shape of a Tuft, yet often it is like that of other fish.
4. BESIDES small Balls of Paste, they give them the Yolks of Eggs boiled hard, or else lean Pork dried in the Sun, and reduced to very fine Powder. They Sometimes put Snails into the Basin where they are kept; their Slime, which sticks to the Sides of the Vessel, being excellent Food for there little Animals, who struggle for it. They are also very fond of little reddish Worms, found in the Water of some Reservoirs.
5. THEY seldom multiply after they are shut up in their Vessels, because they are too much confined. In order to breed, they must be put in Reservoirs, where the Water runs, and is deep in some Places.
6. THE Water drawn-out of the Well, to fill the Vessel where they are kept, ought to be left to settle five or six hours, otherwise it would be too crude, and unwholesome.
7. WHEN you perceive the Fish spawning, which happens about the Beginning of May, you should
scatter Grass upon the Surface of the Water, that the Spawn may cling to it ; and when you perceive
the Spawning is over, or that the Males cease to follow the Females, the Fish must be removed into
another Vessel, that the Spawn may be exposed in the Sun for three or four Days; and at the End of
forty or fifty Days the Water must be changed, because the small Fry begin then to appear distinctly.
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Last updated on May 15, 2002 by Sylvia and Kevin.
Last updated on May 15, 2002 by Sylvia and Kevin.