We have been having a very hard time fertilizing Atlantis’ eggs. One big problem is the possibility that our male fish, Endeavour, is actually a female. It is very hard to tell. We have attempted to harvest milt from Endeavour with no success, but that could also mean he just isn’t mature enough yet.
Last week I put feelers out for another male goldfish, this time stipulating that the fish should be mature and ready to mate. The kids found in their research that a mature male goldfish will have white spots on his face called breeding tubercles, so we set out to find one with spots.
I posted an ad on Craigslist, and within a few days, we got a response from a fish owner in nearby Wheaton, Illinois. She had a pair of goldfish who had previously spawned together, and said we could take them for our experiment.
After getting the new fish back to the lab, we tried to harvest eggs and milt. We got a few eggs from the female fish, by very gently applying pressure near her vent. Using the same technique, we tried to harvest milt from the male. We were very surprised when, instead of seeing milt come out, we got more eggs! That’s right, our two new fish are both female!
So we were back to square one. We called and e-mailed around to find a breeder who can provide us with a male fish. Finally an aquarium expert from the Shedd Aquarium offered to help us find a breeder. Several more phone calls led us to the fish store Koi to the World, whose in turn referred us to Blackwater Creek Koi Farm, a fish breeder located in Central Florida. Blackwater Creek’s owner, Joe Pawlak, listened patiently to our dilemma and offered several solutions. 1) He can send us a male fish, 2) He can send us a kit for injecting hormones into the fish to induce spawning, or 3) He can send us goldfish eggs, already fertilized.
We think the solution will be a combination of these things. If Joe ships the eggs to Chicago and then we ship them to Kennedy Space Center, the eggs will hatch before the launch. To solve this problem, Joe has generously offered to hand deliver our fertilized eggs to Kennedy Space Center. Isn’t that amazing? Thank you Joe!!! So, our plan is for Joe to deliver the eggs to Cape Canaveral on July 5th, and then we will travel to Blackwater Creek Koi Farm on July 6th or 7th to see the farm and collect fertilized eggs for our control experiment. Since we would also like to experience successfully fertilizing the eggs ourselves, we are considering using Joe’s hormone kit in the classroom.
So…YAY! Thank you to everyone at Shedd, Koi to the World, and Blackwater Creek for helping us out!