Shut down the merciless trade of goldfish at fairgrounds

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For many years, goldfish were sold as prizes at fairgrounds, where anyone as young as 12 could get their hands on one. After many discussions and petitions, the government moved the age restriction to 16. But it simply is not enough to give goldfish the life they deserve.

Fairground goldfish are imprisoned in a plastic bag filled half with water and half oxygen. They have no access to food, replenished oxygen and minerals or to a basic filtration system, and many die before being sold. Those that are sold may be affected by acute illnesses (sudden and short) or by chronic illnesses (slow and long). The fish that are fortunate enough to be rehomed, with an improved environment, come with no guarantee that it will live a long life nor that it will not spread disease to other tank mates.

Goldfish can survive beyond their imprisonment in a plastic bag, if they are lucky or robust enough. However, for the majority, they die before even having a home. Some die in transition between their breeders and the fairground, and some die in their new home a few years later. It’s important to remember goldfish can live to 25 years old but without appropriate care most do not.

Due to many old fashioned views of a fish having a three second memory and the lack of sentience and consciousness, the policies surrounding fish welfare are still very slack. Nonetheless there are many studies that suggest fish are sentient, conscious and have a very good memory, to the extent that some species such as puffer fish can perform memory tricks. Yet the information provided at fairgrounds about fish care is little to none resulting in many people taking home fish without any basic information about animal welfare. There is so much more to taking care of a goldfish than simply placing them in a bowl of water.

In this petition I will explain concisely the mistreatment surrounding goldfish that is currently taking place at fairgrounds. I hope to reach out to animal lovers but I also hope that the community that does not believe fish to be sentient, understand how not purchasing and funding this practise will save them money and hassle. Hopefully exposing the truth and reality of buying a goldfish from a fair will help to decrease the demand from a welfare perspective and from an inward looking perspective.

The risks to goldfish welfare from the fairground trade

Poisoning and diseases- Many will die from their own excrement because there is no filtration in the water. Without filtration the water quality will become increasingly toxic with overwhelmingly high ammonia, nitrite and nitrate chemical levels. These chemicals can impair bodily functions and can be the source of diseases, which will result in death.

Stress- As well as poor water quality causing the fish to become stressed, other factors such as temperature fluctuations and pH levels can stress a fish resulting in illness and death. Furthermore, stress can be a result of the poor handling of bags, and transition between environments including the transportation to different fair grounds.

Temperature- Constant fluctuations in temperature are unhealthy for fish. Fish are ectotherms which means their body temperature depends on external/environmental temperatures. The temperature dependency is so great that they can go into fatal shock from being exposed to water that is too harsh for them to bear. The temperature can affect hormones, gill function, immune system, oxygen absorption, enzymes and growth of bones and muscles. This reflects the importance of the knowledge of acclimatisation, something that is not always mentioned to customers at fairgrounds. Furthermore, some goldfish are more robust than others; for example the Oranda cannot regulate its temperature very well. Therefore it should not be exposed to an outdoor environment. Yet they are still sold on fairgrounds with no care leaflets or advice regarding this.

Suffocation- Goldfish can survive a while without oxygenated water. But they cannot endure hours on end trapped in a plastic bag. The effect of a sealed bag means there is no oxygen replenishment or carbon dioxide expel.

pH- Goldfish should be in a neutral pH environment. A higher or lower pH than exact can, over time, be harmful to the fish. Unfortunately at fairgrounds fish are exposed to build ups of ammonia, which can alter the pH resulting in shock and death of fish due to increased hydrogen atoms and not enough oxygen in their water. Furthermore if carbon dioxide is not released from their bag, the water will also become dangerously acidic.

Starvation- It is obvious that with a sealed bag the fish are not being fed. It should go without saying just how important food is to a living animal. Goldfish should be fed 1-2 times per day.

Conclusion- In conclusion goldfish are being mistreated through gross negligence. This is caused entirely by inadequate care from a retailing system that suggests goldfish to be low maintenance pets.  

As stated in the introduction, fish are sentient and conscious and when their environment at a funfair is explained it becomes clear that the torture and cruelty they endure has to stop. It is also clear that when you fund this business the fish you leave with will spread disease to your other fish, waste your money on bowls and tanks, treatments and equipment or upset your children when it dies weeks or months after purchase.

Either way this trade is not benefiting anyone but those who sell the fish. The question you have to ask yourselves is: “Was this entertainment worth a life?”

Lets shut this merciless trade down and save the lives of many goldfish!