Mention goldfish, and the image that comes to mind is that of small, colorful creatures swimming in circles in fish bowls or home aquariums. However, the one recently discovered by biologists conducting a fish survey at a South Carolina lake was no ordinary goldfish - it was a 9-pound, 15-inch-long behemoth!
The massive marine animal was discovered in the 12-acre Oak Grove Lake in Greenville, SC, on November 16, 2020. It came to light accidentally when the researchers were testing the aquatic ecosystem's health through electrofishing. Commonly used in scientific surveys, the harmless technique gently shocks fish and forces them to rise to the water's surface, allowing surveyors to determine the abundance, density, and species composition. "All of a sudden, this giant fish jumped out and into the net, and we quickly snapped a photo while examining it," Ty Houck, director of Greenways, Natural and Historic Resources for the Greenville County Recreation District, told CNN.
The experts, who released the goldfish back into the water soon after, are unsure how it got there or how long it has been living in the lake. "We think someone must have just dropped their fish in the lake because they didn't want it anymore, instead of flushing it down the toilet," Houck said. He attributes the fish's size to its large home and the abundance of food. "Goldfish grow to the size of their environment," Houck said. "To have a 9-pound goldfish survive in our lake must mean we are doing something right."
The ginormous goldfish, which has become an internet celebrity since the image was posted on Greenville Recreation Center's Facebook page on December 7, 2020, is certainly impressive. However, it is no record-breaker. According to the International Game Fish Association, the world's heaviest goldfish is a 9-lb, 6-oz (4.26 kg) specimen found by Mathew Servant in 2002. The Guinness World Record for the longest is held by an 18.7-inch goldfish found in the Netherlands by Joris Gijsbers in March 2003.
Resources: CNN.com, USAtoday.com. Igfa.org/guinnessworldrecords.com