COLUMN: Life is far from golden for many goldfish

Life isn't golden for many goldfish
Life isn't golden for many goldfish

Reporter Gemma Gadd pens a column on the myths and issues surrounding the care of goldfish...

I had a common goldfish as a kid that I won at the village fete.

I named him Lucky and kept him in a 25-litre tank.

Things went swimmingly and he lived for about six years.

But poor Lucky wasn’t so fortunate afterall.

Having embraced the fishkeeping hobby as an adult I now know that these common goldfish can expect to live for 20-40 years if kept properly – and grow to a whopping 15 inches. The world record stands at 18.7 inches.

Lucky died before he even got close to adulthood.

It is a situation that plays out in many households with pet goldfish thanks to the commonly-held misconception that you just need to stick them in a tiny bowl and they live a couple of years.

And in the case of their tank, size definitely does matter.

Perhaps this misconception is how fairgrounds and village fetes are still able to give them away as prizes today and no-one bats an eyelid.

But some people say, ‘what does it matter, fish only have a three second memory?’ – well this has been disproven. Goldfish can remember things for at least three months.

Owners of other fish species, such as some marines, claim their pets can recognise them after much longer periods apart.

And did you know fish also have ears? Sort of.

With two separate sensory systems they can detect sound and vibrations in the water.

All fish need a filter due to the fact they are living creatures, and like the rest of us, produce waste and toxins.

Without a filter you are effectively condeming your pet to live in a toilet bowl. The filter’s job is to boost oxygen, remove waste and neutralise bad toxins – the latter being the work of the good bacteria that lives inside it. Water changes alone don’t cut it.

All this makes me wonder if Boston May Fair, like others across the UK, should be allowed to continue giving away live goldfish as prizes. A creature that can live for 40 years. Handed over like candyfloss. Surely that can’t be right?