People have been keeping fish for hundreds of years, but only within the past 50 years or so have they become so common. It is also during this time that many misconceptions have come to the surface. Most of the time these originated because of a lack of knowledge, but as we experimented and technology got better, we got a better understanding of fish. But this initial information (or sometimes intentional misinformation) is still around, and the vast majority of people who keep fish think at least one of these things is true.
If fish do not belong in fish bowls then where should they live if you buy them? (I had a goldfish when i was younger and we always kept her in a fish bowl and cleaned it regularly)
Goldfish should be kept in a tank with a powerful enough filter, plus APPROPRIATE substrate! Either bare bottom or sand!
General rule of thumb for goldfish is 2 gallons of water per inch of ADULT -SIZED fish. So if you have a fancy goldfish, they get about 8 inches large, meaning 16 gallons per fancy goldfish.
Comet goldfish (or “feeder” goldifsh— you know, the kind you win at carnivals?) get anywhere between 18-20 inches long, meaning about 36-40 gallons for a comet to live happily. ( i prefer to leave comets for ponds as they THRIVE in pond space! So much room for them to be happy and swim free! My grandmother has 4-5 comets that she’s had for over 15 years and they’re all about 20 inches long. They have babies almost every spring and she places the babies in a separate pond)
And the myth about goldfish only growing to the size of the container it’s kept in? Just that: a myth. Goldfish will end up with physical deformities and possibly die of organ failure because of the conditions they are left in.
Plus, what would YOU rather live in? A small studio apartment where everything is in the same room INCLUDING the toilet/sink/shower, or a space where you could stretch out a bit, maybe have a roommate you get along with house with you with plenty of room so you don’t feel trapped in your own living space?
It’s the same as asking whether you think a living creature would enjoy something like this:
Or something like this:
These fish can live between 25-40 years with optimal conditions!
Most fish who are thrown in bowls don’t live past a year or two maximum— bowls do not provide enough oxygen or clean water for any fish to thrive in it. The shape of the bowl itself isn’t even conducive to producing oxygen, since the surface area of the exposed water is so much less than the diameter of the bowl.
Not only that, but for a goldfish, the water in a 1 gallon bowl will hit toxic levels of ammonia from its own waste within 12 hours. That means to have the SAFE levels of ammonia you would need to change the water out at least 4 times daily for a 1.5-inch goldfish.
Goldfish are NOT beginner fish. GOLDFISH ARE NOT BEGINNER FISH!! I would label them as intermediate because of the amount of maintenance required to have one live its full life span!
And for any of you who read this and say “Why is this so important?? It’s just a fish!”, you can easily ask the same question of any animal. ”Why is this so important?? It’s just a dog!”. ”Why is this so important?? It’s just a horse!”.
No matter the animal, it should still be treated with respect.
If you ignore its needs on purpose, not out of ignorance or miseducation, that is animal abuse. Never buy an animal on a whim or just because it’s cute or because you want it to fill a space in your house for decoration. ALWAYS DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE PURCHASING AN ANIMAL. And cross-reference your sources! Never just rely on one person’s word.
Tl;dr or if you’re still curious as to why bowls are bad for fish, I suggest these links for more information:
What is wrong with putting a goldfish in a ten gallon tank? I am to to fish and simply curious
Here’s some good links to start off with, X, X, X and X.
Basically, goldfish grow large. LAAARRGE. Even a fancy goldfish can be over 6 inches long, white feeders (comets) and commons can be over ten inches in length by the time they reach adult age, and those two varieties are best suited for large, 600 gallon+ ponds. A 10 gallon tank is only 20 inches in length, putting a fancy goldfish which grows to 6 inches in length is cruel because it’s like being told that you’re expected to live in an 8x8 room for your entire life because there’s enough room for you to pace around.
It’s also a myth that goldfish only grow to the size of the tank they are in. Sure, they’ll stay “small”, because they have been horribly neglected and become stunted, something that happens to all living things, including humans, when they are forced to live in an environment that places constant stress on their bodies. A stunted body means an early death for these fish that can be over 20 years old. 20 years! A goldfish will outlive your dog, this is a bigger commitment than people seem to realize.
Goldfish are also massive waste producers. They have no stomachs, just intestine, so whatever goes in comes right out after they have digested it, so they are pretty much making waste all the time. Smaller bodies of water cannot cope with that constant production of ammonia, so soon the tank will become dangerous to the fish and quickly result in ammonia poisoning, which can be a painful death for your fish.
I don’t really think anyone new to tanks should start out with a ten or five gallon if they want something more than like, a betta, because smaller tanks are harder to manage because smaller bodies of water can easily become unstable if you’re not on the up and up with maintenance. I think beginners should start out with a 29 gallon tank because it’s easier to handle, less can go wrong in the water chemistry unless you truly fuck it up.
I don’t understand how in this day and age, people could have missed the memo that a koi is not a tank pet. I mean, even some goldfish really aren’t, but I can understand how shitty LFS and Petsmart/co employees can convince someone who grew up on “goldfish bowl” myths that it’s okay. Hell, they convinced me that it would be fine to keep three comets in a 5.5 gallon. But a koi. That’s a whole different deal. I mean, there are so many pictures of massive koi out there. We’ve all seem ‘em. How can people still think you can get a koi to plunk in a tank?
Look at this fish! This isn’t even a particularly big koi!
I just don’t get how people could still buy koi for a tank pet. What are they planning on doing long term? It’s just a new level of ignorance/not caring to me.
What's your opinion on the fish bowl? I haven't heard much about it but I think is two fish put in a smallish bowl or something??
The Fish Bowl is an “event” hosted by National Geographic where three goldfish in an unfiltered two gallon bowl, and two clownfish and a coral banded shrimp are also in a (separate) unfiltered 2 gallon bowl. The bowl is filmed and put in different locations. The fish are only in the bowl temporarily, however there are a few major issues with the whole thing.
First, it perpetuates the myth that goldfish can live in bowls. Goldfish are high waste producing fish that get anywhere from 5-24” long depending on the variety. Even when small, they need a certain amount of water to both dilute their waste and give them enough space to move around. Bowls are too small to house goldfish, except in the most temporary sense.
Bowls and even tanks under 20 gallons are too small for even juvenile goldfish for a few reasons.
Goldfish release ammonia through their waste and even their gills as they breath. Ammonia is toxic to a fish! Even in concentrations as low as .25ppm, over time, they will become sick. In such a small tank it has been my experience that 3 goldfish would create ammonia levels of 2.0-3.0ppm overnight.
Such a small bowl does not have enough surface area to facilitate gas exchange. This means as the use up oxygen it is not being replace fast enough. This is typically why we see goldfish gasping for breath at the surface of small tanks and bowls.
They’re simply too small to house an adult fish. Even if you take water quality and aeration out of the equation, you cannot physically fit a 24” comet goldfish inside of a 2 gallon bowl.
Second, the fish are under stress. Fish are stressed by transportation and acclimation to a new environment. For a healthy fish, this should not be too much to overcome but from their behind the scenes video they do a lot of moving, from one location to another, and this means several sessions of being netted out of the bowl and relocated.
All of this stress is completely unnecessary and done in the name of entertainment.
Overall I think it casually misinforms the public through affirmation of the myth that goldfish can live in bowls, gives the dangerous impression that clownfish can live in bowls, and puts animals through unnecessary stress and danger.