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Fishy tale of ghosts has riches as finale
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The great ghost mystery involving a five-story house in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region always sounded suspicious - and now it has been solved, with happy and rewarding results.

The spooky night-time noises scared away at least four homeowners in the past decade before two brothers recently located the "ghosts" in the cesspit - a bunch of catfish, obviously not fussy eaters.

The Chen brothers netted a pair of catfish, known to locals as "pond angel fishes," each weighing five to six kilograms, and eight smaller ones of about half a kilogram each.

And the "haunted house" in Cenxi, a small city noted for its granite, has turned the brothers from paupers to millionaires.

The Chen brothers bought the spurned home for a paltry 50,000 yuan (US$6,410) in February.

But while the property has been valued at one million yuan, it is not for sale.

When the brothers, both migrant workers from the countryside of Guangxi, bought the house, it had come down in price from 250,000 yuan in 1996 because its previous owners were scared away by the strange splashes that echoed through every floor after midnight.

Toilet theory

The Chen brothers spent many nights listening to the splashes, which stopped the moment they started to pace the floor.

They finally located the noise in the sewage conduit of the first-floor bathroom, which linked to the cesspit at the back of the building. The mystery was solved when they removed the lid of the cesspit and saw the catfish.

The brothers then asked previous house owners if there was an explanation. One of them, Chen Dongcheng, remembered buying a dozen of the fish in 1995. "When I brought them to the kitchen, I found there were only 10 left," he said.

The two that went missing must have found their way down the toilet and into the cesspit, he said.

The house became "haunted" after that, forcing Chen Dongcheng to move out and sell the house at a very low price.

Experts said catfish can survive seriously contaminated water because their gills and skin both perform respiratory functions.

(Xinhua News Agency, Shanghai Daily October 4, 2007)

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