Fish raised in a pond on an Arrowtown estate and given to the
Dunedin Chinese Garden are proving smarter than their pet
store counterparts, the garden manager says. Margo Reid said
a shag could eat five fish in a single dive in the jade green
waters of the Dunedin Chinese Garden.
''The shags fly in skinny and fly out fat.''
When garden staff spotted a shag they ran around the garden
clapping their hands to shoo away the predator. It worked
well but the fish were on their own when the staff went home
at night, Ms Reid said.
Hunting had become easier for the shags, more oxygen weed
making the fish stand out better.
When the garden opened in 2008, the council spent $9140 on
large goldfish from The Pet Warehouse but they lacked the
instinct to avoid the shags and the stock was cleaned out in
The following year, they spent $5750 restocking the pond with
smaller fish from the pet store but many of them were eaten,
So in early 2010, the council awarded the The Pet Warehouse a
$4000 contract to make two trips to Arrowtown to catch and
transport back donated fish from an overstocked pond on an
Pet Warehouse manager Gareth Keenan said the ''massive'' pond
was so full it gave the illusion that a
person could walk on top of the fish.
On the first trip, about 300 fish ranging from about 20cm to
30cm long were brought back; on the second trip about 250
fish were brought back, ranging from 20cm to 25cm long, Mr
He had underquoted costs for the two trips and, although
margins were smaller than expected, he took pride in helping
the garden. However, he disagreed that pet store fish had
fewer smarts than pond-raised fish.
Ms Reid believed the goldfish from the estate were more
''savvy'' than pet store fish.
The new fish knew where to hide when the shadow of a flying
shag was cast on the pond, she said.
The fish received an extra nutritional boost from fish feed
sold to visitors and more fish were being released in the
pond, the adopt-a-fish programme allowing visitors to buy,
name and release a fish as a sign of good luck, wealth and
Nearly 300 fish had been bought and released since the
programme's inception, Ms Reid said.
The fish population had also increased from spawning.