You find them more and more in restaurants and shops, in different shapes and sizes: a Fish bowl with one or more goldfish in it.
You will also find half-fishtanks that are hung up on the wall by their flat side. In a restaurant
at an exhibition in IJmuiden they placed
a simple glassbowl with two goldfish on
every table. Some visitors threw their cigarette
ends and leftover beer in it. Every morning
the dead fish were replaced by new ones.
Goldfish as decoration is apparently in.
The animals are rarely seen or treated as
living creatures even though it is known
that goldfish are very sensitive animals.
If treated well goldfish can reach the age
of 20 to 40 years. In their narrow goldfish
bowls they barely last a few days or weeks.
More than a thousand years ago the Chinese
started to breed goldfish from silver carp.
Initially they were kept in ponds but later
on they were also kept in big pottery bowls.
Through the centuries goldfish have been
bred in numerous different ways, all over
the world and became more and more popular.
Every year one hundred million Goldfish
are bred throughout the world, between 5
and 10 million are sold in Holland alone.
We can conclude that in general these animals
are fated to live a short life.
Why the goldfishbowl is bad
Many of the goldfish will end up in a goldfishbowl.
People unfortunately don't realize that
this is an instrument of torture for the
fish. What makes it so bad? First of all
the goldfish bowl is of course much too
small. The bowl usually contains only a
few litres of water. If they are lucky and
get a big fishbowl it contains 10 to 15
litres of water. That's far too little for
a goldfish who needs at least 250 litres.
The small amount of water in a fishbowl
not only gets dirty very quickly, but can
also become too warm very fast. Due to the
shape of the bowl the contact area of the
water with the air is so small that there
is a constant lack of oxygen. The living
environment of the fishbowl offers the goldfish
no interests or variety. They can't take
their bearings, conceal themselves, keep
their distance from other fish and search
for food. The bowl also barely offers any
room to move. Fish, Goldfish as well, are
built to swim considerable distances. In
a bowl they can just swim in circles. According
to the opinion of the experts the goldfishbowl
is absolutely unsuitable for keeping fish.
The biologist and head of the Wilhelma Aquarium
in Stuttgart, Dr Dieter Jauch, writes in
his book about the care of goldfish, Goldfish
in aquariums and gardenponds; 'who ever puts goldfish in this sort of prison is
committing animal abuse'.
How should we keep goldfish?
The starting point is that they be kept in a natural
A good, deep pond is the best
way to go. But if we keep them in a suitable
aquarium, and they are approximately 15
to 20 centimetres in length, they need to
have at least 250 litres of water at their
disposal. That means an aquarium of 100x
50x50 cm. This standard size was recently
recommended by the magazine The Aquarium.
This is a big difference from the tiny goldfish
bowl. As long as the goldfish are small,
a smaller but rectangular aquarium is acceptable.
Goldfish are social animals and shouldn't
be kept alone, but in small groups of, according
to experts, approximately 10 fish. It's
also very important that the goldfish in
the aquarium have an interesting, varied
environment. Various waterplants, stones
and sandy gravel are an absolute requirement.
Goldfish like to swim in groups through
the water while they are constantly searching
for food. What they like to do is root up
the stones with their noses, actually just
like pigs, when searching for food. That
offers the animals the necessary diversion
and movement and keeps them psychologically
and physically healthy.
How can we get rid of the goldfish bowls?
First of all the owners of the goldfish
must buy a normal aquarium. That's more
expensive than a fishbowl, but will provide
the goldfish with the minimal living space
and will give the people who keep them a
lot more pleasure. Secondly, the animal
trade has a big responsibility. They are
the ones who have these unsuitable fishbowls
in their shops and sell them to their customers.
A lot of people think that goldfish bowls
are good because they are sold in pet shops.
The petshops must be strongly requested
not to offer these fishbowls to their customers. Ton Dekker and Marijke Santen