One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish - Boese experiences population explosion in fishkeeping adventure

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Susie Boese, Iuka, found that fishkeeping was a fun COVID-19 hobby that has surpassed her expectations for adventure.
Two mollies swim in Susie Boese's fish tank in Iuka.
A red beta fish, given as a gift during the COVID-19 pandemic, sparked an interest in fishkeeping for Iuka resident Susie Boese.

It all started with the gift of a magenta beta fish that Susie Boese of Iuka gave her mother, Alice Langworthy, for her 87th birthday, June 19, 2020. Now a year later, Boese looks back on a year of COVID-19 fishkeeping that provided more entertainment and adventure than she could have imagined.

“Mom wanted a tropical fish,” Boese said. “So I got her beta. That’s what she wanted.”

Boese delivered the beta and a three and a-half gallon tabletop tank to her mom at the Leisure Homestead in St. John. Though she couldn't go in at the time because of COVID-19 restrictions, she was greeted at the door by a friendly staff member who assisted with getting the beta settled in its new environs in her mother’s room.

“Mom was so delighted,” Boese said. “I can still imagine the smiles her beta must have brought. She told me about her fish often by phone."

After her mother passed away October 21, 2020, Boese brought the beta to her home.

The whole experience piqued her own interest in fishkeeping.

Since the beta would not get along with any other species of fish, Boese got a 36-gallon tank for other fish and launched a new fish-keeping adventure that included two mollies, Bertha and Bill.

Fast-forward to present day.

“I had no idea they would be so reproductive. We had lots of baby mollies,” Boese said. “We removed the male a month ago and the mama still keeps having babies.”

Research led her to information about fish that noted female mollies give birth to live babies after holding the fertilized eggs inside for a gestation period of about 60 days. A mother can give birth to between 40 to 100 fry (as baby mollies are called).

“Thankfully, we didn’t reach the 100 mark, but we did have at least 30 new babies, three different times,” Boese said.

With such an expanded population of fish, Boese's fish adventures continued as she tried to find new homes for her now special babies.

“I didn’t want the baby mollies to die in an overcrowded tank,” Boese said. “That would break my heart, so I was determined to try to find homes for all the baby mollies.”

Turning to social media for help, Boese posted a “Molly Give-Away” last month on the Pratt Neighbors helping Neighbors Facebook page.

Among those adopting baby mollies was Iuka Mayor Marsha Giggy, who took three of them.

“They’re very healthy and growing,” Giggy said. “We’re delighted to have them. We’ve enjoyed aquarium life for over 50 years.”

Boese said molly fish are low maintenance and don’t require a lot of work to keep them healthy.

“Mollies are a great choice for anyone just starting with fishkeeping,” Boese said.

The good news is, Boese said, that since posting about the baby mollies on Facebook, homes have been found for all 90 of them, all those born in three clutches since early this year. She said she enjoyed meeting other people in the area who had an interest in fishkeeping.

“We may have more because Bertha is getting big AGAIN,” Boese said.

Boese and her husband, Delbert, also keep other fish, including Tuffy, the flaming red beta, who brought Boese’s mother such joy while she was quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic.