Forget Five Second Memory: Fish Have Feelings Too

Forget Five Second Memory: Fish Have Feelings Too

By Andrea Stephenson

In the days of my youth, almost every school or village fair had one. It might be throw the ball, it might be rings over a bottle, but the prize was always the same. A goldfish in a plastic bag.

Excitedly, we children would take them home, forcing our parents to purchase the no doubt overpriced bowls and food on a nearby stall (give the goldfish free, make a huge profit on the accessories). If we had responsible parents, we filled the small bowl with water, put our fish in it and fed them once in a while. If we didn’t, we left the fish in the bag and wondered why it had suddenly stopped moving.

It’s a little wonder that so many fish die so soon after purchase.

When buying any pet, planning is necessary. Fish are not the exception to this rule. Their habitat might be very self-contained, but it is to be their home nonetheless. Temperature, space and environment are all key factors in ensuring a long life. For your fish’s sake, if not the happiness of your child, buy a book or use the internet to look into some of the basics of simple cold water fish care.

Water is a prime example. To many of us water’s water, right? Well, no. You wouldn’t plunge a new baby into a freezing cold bath and you shouldn’t do the same to a fish either. If your goldfish comes in a plastic bag, float it in the bowl for some time before opening it, so that the bag temperature and the water temperature closely match. And that’s before we even get on to acidity and alkalinity: pet shops again can provide solutions to test for these, as waste products and plants can change the nature of the water as, once again, changes aren’t good for your fish’s health.

Then there’s the bowl. Many new buyers purchase the smallest round bowls, with little thought of how many fish they will be containing. Fish need their space too. Any reasonable pet shop will tell you the capacity for a size of fish in each bowl or tank and normally it will surprise you. Don’t be conned by the old five second memory myth: as a child I had a fish that miraculously survived and swam for years around a murky round bowl. My parents eventually relented and bought a tank. My poor Goldie (original naming) couldn’t cope – it kept hitting into the glass as it no longer had any idea how to turn round on its own. It died within days, unable to even properly raise itself to the surface for food. These fish develop habits that they can’t change five seconds later.

Plants, rocks, bits of wood: all of these provide the owner with additional things to look at and your fish with a more pleasurable environment to live in. All cost very little. Wash them and your bowl or tank regularly, especially if you haven’t got a filter to do it for you, or an air pump to oxygenate the water. This will help stop the spread of illnesses and diseases, treatments for most of which can also be bought at most pet shops.

It sounds like a lot of work, but once practiced a few times these become second nature. A pet is a commitment, large or small. If you are not prepared to make that commitment, do not buy one.

Andrea does not claim to be an expert veterinarian. She is just someone who cares about animals and would like to share her experience dealing with them. Her online writing portfolio can be found at

This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pet Forums.

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