Show of hands: How many of you know someone who has bought a fish as a "low-maintenance pet" for the kids, stuck the fish in a bowl, and then forgotten all about him or her? Extra credit if the people in question have clandestinely replaced the (dead) fish several times so as to avoid "traumatizing" the youngsters. Well, this is "Be Kind to Animals" Week, so let's take this opportunity to stop the madness!
Fish are not decorations or toys. They have cognitive skills that rival those of primates, use tools, maintain complex social relationships, and communicate with each other using low-frequency sounds that humans can't even hear. Confining fish to a cramped tank or bowl, forcing them to swim in endless circles through the same few cubic inches of (often filthy) water, is just as cruel as chaining or crating a dog 24 hours a day.
If you or your friends or family have fish, you can strive to make them as comfortable as possible. The first order of business is to replace the glass bowl with an aquarium that is large enough to provide at least 3 gallons of water per inch of fish. It should be equipped with a pump, a filter, live plants, and objects for the fish to explore and hide in. The water needs to be treated for chlorine, kept between 68°F and 76°F, and have the appropriate pH level for the types of fish.
Share this information with any goldfish wardens―I mean, "guardians"―you know. And tell anyone contemplating imprisoning a fish that a far more humane way of entertaining the kids is to let them watch a live online stream, like the one from a camera in the Grand River in Ontario, Canada.
Written by Michelle Sherrow