Fish love food. Any aquarium owner can tell you that many species of fish will eagerly flit about the tank when it’s feeding time. A few species of fish are so fins-to-the-wall crazy about food that they’ll drive themselves into wild feeding frenzies. I’m sure most of you have heard about sharks and piranha working themselves into a frenzy, but even the most serene flake-nibblers can be forced into a hunger-induced feeding frenzy if the conditions are right. All you need is a bunch of hungry mouths to feed and not enough food, and you’ve got a recipe for fish hunger riots.
Say hello to the koi, a species of domesticated carp common throughout Japan and backyard ponds everywhere. Koi live in a unique environment, because people will show up in droves to throw food pellets into the water. This results in a somewhat odd scenario wherein there’s always enough food, so the incredibly healthy environment means that fish can keep making fish love and having fish babies. Many Japanese Koi ponds are grossly overpopulated with koi, so the fish have to climb over each other during feeding time if they want just a chance at getting one of the food pellets.
These feeding frenzies have become an attraction all in themselves, as each visitor to a Japanese koi pond is eager to throw in some fish food of his own and incite a frenzy. As you might expect, this only makes the problem worse and worse. Still, I gotta hand it to them: it looks awfully cool. If I ever go to Japan, I’d probably want to start a frenzy, too.
The most amazing things about these frenzies is that the fish near the top can actually be pushed up out of the water by the fish beneath them, resulting in a living carpet of red, orange, and yellow. It’s almost scary in a way, partly because it reminds us of the fact that humans will do the exact same thing when a situation becomes desperate enough. I mean, we’ll trample each other to death over Black Friday shopping deals, so just imagine how we’d get if there was only a few loaves of bread and 50 hungry families.
The fish are so densely packed that it looks as though you could set a young child on the swarm and the fish could support its weight. It’d be a slimy and shaky ride, certainly, but if these fish are strong enough to push hundreds of their own kind out of the water, they’re probably strong enough to push up the weight of a five-year-old kid, too. I think we need to get Mythbusters in on this.