Eggdrop was born with “flotation-disorder” which means he can’t swim! He rolls around helplessly in the water, sometimes floats near the surface, sometimes sinks to the bottom, and generally has a tough time getting anywhere. His floppy little fins aren’t very strong either – he doesn’t have any reliable means of propulsion or steering.

So how does he get around? It depends on what kind of day it is. If it’s a “sideways” day, he scrabbles about sideways like a crab, using one fin to push along the gravel, and the other for stabilizing, with added boost from shooting water out of his mouth like a squid. If it’s a “headstanding” day, he bounces along on his mouth, like a balloon.
Sometimes flotation disorder is caused by a blockage of the swim bladder which modulates buoyancy in fish, but in Eggie’s case, I think it is caused by the extremely abbreviated shape of his body, so his swim-bladder is too deformed to function normally. We have tried treating it with naladixic acid (an antibiotic) and by feeding him peas, all to no avail.

A sideways sort of day

I first saw Eggdrop in The Fish Doctors store in Ypsilanti, MI. He was small, but bright eyed and perfect – with beautiful fins and a little bit of the oranda headgrowth.

He was sitting all alone in his little shoebox-sized tank, next to the section which held some of his relatives. He wasn’t moving, mostly because he was wedged between the wall of the tank and an air tube.

When I saw him, stuck behind the tube, I assumed he was trapped and might die! I reached in, moved the airtube away, and freed him. He swam out, wobbled a little, and it became apparent he couldn’t swim very well without rolling over. Then he paddled his way back to the tube and jammed himself in again, clearly on purpose. He had found a way to hold himself steady!

When I saw that, I knew I had to buy him! $36.00 later, we brought Eggdrop and his little brother, Tottle, home in a plastic bag. They didn’t seem to be upset at all by the drive home – they merely hunted around on the botttom of the bag for crumbs of food.

Eggie and Tottle soon after their arrival. Magoo is off to the side, munching on a yellow squash.

For a while, Eggdrop could sometimes swim normally, but he became less able to do so as the weeks went by. But he got along well with the other goldfish. It was one big love-fest in there – everyone seemed to like Eggdrop. Goldfish love to touch each other, they are constantly reassuring each other by nuzzling and brushing each other with their fins.

Piggum giving Eggie a little reassurance.

They would even sometimes sleep together, all in a row.

Eggie, Magoo and Piggum sleeping. Eggie had to lie on his side, but somehow he made it over there.

However a problem soon developed! Eggdrop had figured out that the best way to hold himself steady was to squeeze his body between the intake strainer and the glass wall!

The suction and pressure held him still, but it also made big red suction marks on his sides. I thought I could foil him by putting an artificial hollow log – a tank decoration we had bought for a catfish – around the intake, like a sleeve. The log was elbow-shaped with lots of holes, as if it was partly rotted. The lower half of the elbow lay horizontally on the ground.

About two hours after I put it in, I looked in the tank. Eggdrop was gone! I looked everywhere, then finally I took the log off the intake and looked inside.

He had crawled into the lower half and made his way up to the intake again! Now he was stuck in the log. It took some serious shaking to get him out again. His fins were ragged from the suction, and his red marks were worse.

After that, we moved him to a little hospital tank and covered the intake with a sponge.

Eggdrop’s favorite spot was behind the mug The hospital tank on the kitchen counter

I put a mug in the tank, hoping he would use it as a house, since he was always in search of a way to hold himself still. He decided he liked squeezing BEHIND the mug better, and would sleep there.

After a few weeks, we put him back in the goldfish tank, this time with a big sponge around the intake. Everyone was glad to see him again! The nuzzling and fishie hugs went on constantly. Tottle, who had gotten much bigger by this time and lost his black markings, couldn’t think of a better way to show his affection than to sit on Eggdrop.

When your best friend sleeps on his side, there’s only one way to snuggle. Sit on him! Eggdrop would sleep inside the mug, and Magoo would sleep just behind the mug, standing up in the corner!

We moved the mug into the tank with Eggdrop, and he finally decided to use it as a house.
Continue on to Part II!