A Fish Tale: From Caviar to Living Carp

A Fish Tale: From Caviar to Living Carp


Caviar is a delicacy renowned around the world for its briny flavour—and luxury price point! But, trust a Youtuber to fly in the face of tradition and see in a jar of the delicately delicious fish eggs not just a decadent snack, but LIFE. Hopping on the apparent content bandwagon of hatching-things-from-supermarket-eggs (I don’t spend nearly enough time on the internet), up-for-anything creator Max Fosh decided to try his hand at a distinctly aquatic variation. He acquired tarama, or carp caviar, from a Waitrose (the poshest grocery store chain in the U.K.) with the aim of fertilizing the eggs within and hopefully hatching a fish. After a trip to a local fish farm to snag a syringe of milt, Fosh set about creating life in a humble Tupperware on his windowsill. As Fosh states in his Youtube video, in his deeply non-sciencey way:

“What I remember from school, fish squirt lots of eggs, squirt lots of sperm, mixy-mixy in the river [or] in the pond, then you have lots of little baby fish. […]

I had to splurge on some of the pricier [caviar], the more organic bits, as according to Simon [the fish farmer], cheaper, more processed varieties wouldn’t work. […] Even then, he didn’t really fancy my chances. ‘A big carp might produce a million eggs and not a single fish survives the week.’”

Fosh’s first attempt fails, which he attributes to the direct sunlight on his windowsill “cooking” the eggs. But with another spoonful of caviar and the last dregs of milt in his syringe, he manages to fertilize a few eggs and nurture one fry in particular into adolescence. Dubbing his charge “Max Fish,” Fosh gets it an aquarium and bonds emotionally – until the day a few months later when he releases Max 2.0 into the more hospitable environment of a friend’s pond.

There’s a lesson here, about how much we supermarket shoppers are separated from the life cycles that once naturally brought us food. (The difference between buying chicken thighs on a styrofoam tray and raising and killing your own bird for dinner is significant.) But it’s also just plain charming to watch a completely normal person shepherd a tiny fish into existence in an improbable series of events. As far as we know, Max Fish is still swimming around that pond, unaware of its fame. But we can look towards it, and recognize the vast interrelationships—and luck—that mark our food chain. And our lives!