Goldfish Taken Home From Funfairs Often Die Within Days
After hearing from concerned visitors to Bundoran Adventure Park in Ireland who were appalled to see live goldfish being handed out as prizes, PETA sent a letter to the park calling for a ban on live-animal giveaways. In response, the park confirmed that it will stop giving goldfish away as prizes immediately.
For goldfish, there’s nothing fun about being given away as a prize.
While fairgoers are having the time of their lives, these fish are living in a house of horrors. Contrary to popular belief, fish – including goldfish – have excellent long-term memories, and they can also feel pain and experience depression. They’re intelligent, social animals who communicate, cooperate, use tools, and can recognise different humans.
Often bred in giant tubs, goldfish are frequently kept in conditions that are a far cry from their natural habitat, and they’re typically condemned to live in small bowls that don’t afford them enough space or oxygen.
Handing these animals out to fairgoers who aren’t aware of their complex needs condemns them to a life of suffering and a premature death. The vast majority of goldfish taken home from funfairs are likely to perish within days as the victims of unintentional neglect or deliberate cruelty at the hands of people who weren’t properly prepared to care for them.
Ending the practice of giving fish away as prizes would have no effect on attendance at any fairground. It would, however, send the message that fish, like all animals, are worthy of our consideration and that cruelty to any individual, no matter how small, must not be allowed.
What You Can Do
Refuse to visit amusement parks that use goldfish as prizes. If you discover that any facility is doing so, write a polite letter to its management urging it to ban live-animal prizes. And never buy goldfish from pet shops, which put profit before animals’ needs.
If goldfish – or any other fish in captivity – end up in your care, you can improve their well-being by providing them with an environment that’s as much like their native habitat as possible. While captive fish can never enjoy natural lives, the following tips will help ensure that they’re as comfortable as possible:
- Once a tank for fish is set up with a properly working filter, substrate, and decorations, the water must be cycled for several weeks before fish are added. This will allow time for beneficial bacteria to grow, which will be essential for breaking down ammonia.
- Make sure that the water temperature and oxygen level are appropriate for all species of fish to be kept in the tank.
- Goldfish are social animals, so they shouldn’t be housed alone, but they shouldn’t be kept in severely crowded tanks, either. The more space that fish have, the happier and healthier they’ll be. Their needs vary, so check with an expert or consult a fish handbook to determine their requirements.
- Beneficial bacteria in the tank convert fish waste into nitrates, which can be removed only with regular water changes. As a rough estimate, about 10 to 20 per cent of the water in a tank should be removed once every one to two weeks. More or less water may need to be removed depending on the size of the tank and the number of fish inside, but the tank water should never be emptied completely. Don’t forget to treat the new water with water conditioner before adding it to the tank. During regular water changes, be sure to clean your filter media by swishing it around in the water you’ve just removed from the tank to remove build-up, as running your filter media under new water can kill the helpful bacteria that have grown on it. Soaps and harsh chemicals should never be used to clean a tank, as these substances are deadly to fish.
- Create many places for the fish to hide and explore. Gravel, plants, and other decorations should be rinsed off before being placed in a tank. As a best practice when stocking a tank, use only items specifically meant for aquaria.
- Be aware of the environment outside the aquarium. Suddenly switching on a bright light in a dark room can startle fish, and vibrations from a television or a stereo can alarm and stress them.
- Keep all harmful chemicals away from the tank. Cigarette smoke, paint fumes, and aerosol sprays can be toxic if they’re absorbed into the water.
- The aquarium should be in a spot where temperature and light are constant and controllable. Tropical fish supply stores may be able to advise you on the best amount of light for the fish you’re keeping. Direct sunlight and drafts from doors or windows can change the water temperature or cause excessive algae growth, and fumes from a nearby kitchen or garage can injure the fish.
- Don’t overfeed fish. Uneaten food and waste material are broken down by the bacteria in the tank, but too much will overload them, and the levels will become toxic. You should provide only as much food as your fish can eat in three to five minutes.
- Fish can be medicated, anaesthetised, given injections, and operated on, just like other animals. If a fish seems sick or lethargic, you should consult care booklets and seek advice from an expert or a veterinarian. It’s important to note that many common ailments are treatable at home. Sick fish can be separated from the others in an established quarantine tank until they’ve rebounded to full health.
Fish are complex animals, and caring for them properly requires far more knowledge, supervision, equipment, and patience than most people realise. This post contains only a very brief list of guidelines – please purchase a fish-care book well before making the decision to take on the responsibility of adopting a fish.