Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Fish, My Choice

This last week, Miriam and Isaac both celebrated their birthdays. They are having a joint "Under Sea" themed birthday party tomorrow. We have been busy planning it, and getting everything ready. 

Somewhere online I came across the suggestion of giving out live goldfish as a party favor. Can you imagine the horror?? You may just want to stop reading if this makes you queasy.

We thought the idea was pretty cool. "Goldfish Sunday" is a tradition on many church bus routes, and it's always a huge hit. Every kid at some point has had, or wishes he/she had, a goldfish. 



So today, I went to Petco to buy 20 feeder goldfish, for 15 cents each. Sounds easy enough, right? The sales associate would not sell them to me because he was concerned about the fish's welfare when I told him they were intended as favors for an under-sea themed party. I did not volunteer this information, he was quizzing me in detail about how I planned to house and feed these things. 

Mind you, these fish are usually used as FEED or BAIT, whereas I was planning on giving mine out with gravel, water conditioner, food, and care instructions. Had I told him I was planning on feeding his little dearies to some big mouth bass, he would have sold them without hesitation.

Think that is insane? When I told him I'd just buy them at a different branch, he cockily told me he'd email all local stores right now to tell them I was coming, and not to sell me fish. 

I can imagine the email now, with the suspect description: "BEWARE: White female, blond, about 30 years old, 5'6", pregnant, wearing a black skirt and floral print blouse, accompanied by six minors of various ages. WARNING: do NOT sell feeder fish to her! She intends to give them out to good homes to raise!!!"

My husband and I about died laughing making up various scenarios of what could have happened had I dared try to buy from a different Petco branch. At the end of each of these fictitious scenes, please image the sales associate passing out in utter shock and disgust:


Me: "Hi, I'm here to buy 20 feeder goldfish"
Sales Associate: "20? What are you using them for?"
Me: "Oh, nothing much. We are having an under-sea birthday party, so instead of a pinata we are going to fill a giant waterballoon with fish and water. Once the kids burst it, the fish will go flying everywhere - it will be so much fun to see which kid with their grubby hands can scoop the most fish into their little buckets in the shortest amount of time."


Me: "Hi, I'm here to buy 20 feeder goldfish"
Sales Associate: "20? What are you using them for?"
Me: "Well, to be honest, fish is a very healthy food, but with the way the economy is going we figured this would be the cheapest way to go. Plus, we're making fish-kabobs, so this would save me the trouble of having to chop up a larger fish. You know, goldfish, bell pepper, onion. Goldfish, bell pepper, onion."


Me: "Hi, I'm here to buy 20 feeder goldfish"
Sales Associate: "20? What are you using them for?"
Me: "You see, we homeschool. One important experience for children to go through is the death of a loved one, and how to deal with it. We figured chances are half of these goldfish won't make it, so this would be a good object lesson for them on dealing with death."


I like how Petco's minimum wage sales guy lays awake at night, his conscience pricking him as he has to shoulder the responsibility of selling so many fish each day to questionable people like myself. If wonder if he avoids the fish aisle at the grocery store, or the fishing section at Bass Pro Shops. What about the fact that he likely eats dead animals every day of his life???

Thankfully, PetSMART (true to their name) sold me the fish without first requiring a background check and urinalysis. They are happily enjoying their much bigger habitat than what the pet store provided, and will all be adopted out to carefully screened, responsible families tomorrow, along with all necessary items and information regarding their care. I mean, how else could I sleep at night? 




But murdering 4000 unborn babies every day is totally normal, right? Because a goldfish is more deserving of life than a human? We live in a twisted world.


Edited to add: Like the rest of the thinking world, I would like to assume that this incident was out of the ordinary. I hate to disappoint, but I was informed that this is Petco's official store policy. In fact, the store manager that was called during my failed shopping attempt indignantly confirmed this to me. When I called another Petco, the lady there told me I would need at least a 100 gallon tank, ready and set up, if I wanted to buy 20 goldfish (she knew it was the 15 cent, feeder kind). Never mind the fact that at the store, they keep about 500 fish in what I'm guessing was a 50 gallon tank. A call to a third store, to get the phone number of the district manager so I could lodge a complaint, confirmed what the first two stores had told me (even though that lady agreed it was silly).

47 comments:

  1. Oh, c'mon. Goldfish and abortion are in no way comparable to each other. That, and the clerk at Petco was an aberration.



    Hope the birthday party was a swimming success!

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  2. Bizzare what people decide to make their cause. Goldfish. Your party sounds like a lot of fun. Hope you will post some pictures of the goldfish winners.
    --Mrs. Mari

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  3. ... If they were the big goldfish I MIGHT understand, up until he saw you buying food and gravel etc. I know of people who have given goldfish to families in the same way, except only the fish, leaving the families to spend the money for food and supplies or get rid of the fish down the toilet. That isn't fair at all. The ones that are kept are often either starved, or suffocate slowly in the water as there are no pumps or anything putting oxygen in the water and people don't change the tank water. A quick death as food is better than a slow death suffocating or starving. A lot of people mistreat their pets and even fish deserve better.

    But one FEEDER fish of all things, with water regularly changed and properly fed with the food you're buying, in a home with gravel and properly conditioned water, would be perfectly fine! Better than he would be in the stomach of another fishy.

    Though, I'd have to buy two, so he had a friend lol.

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  4. No comment on the astonishing stupidity of the employee... Giving petfish as a present in a party is such a great idea !!! I would have loved to receive one as a child. You are definitely the best mother when it comes to organizing parties :)

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  5. I too have had run-ins with the "fish nazis" at petco. I have been a tropical aquarium keeper for 20+ years, and they always treat me like I have no clue what I'm doing when I go there to get fish. I never have that problem at Petsmart. Their fish also seem to be generally healthier anyway, and they have a much better selection. So sorry you had to experience this over 15 cent feeder goldfish. Ridiculousness!

    Jamie in TX

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  6. What a great idea! Would you mind posting photos of how you gave them away, or writing some details? Do you use ziplock bags?
    Thanks!

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  7. That's a great favor idea! It is a stupid policy, but on one hand I think private retailers should have the right to refuse business if it contradicts the owners personal ethics. (I definitely don't agree with the store's policy, but I can't blame them for enforcing it as I want my own personal values and ethics respected as well.)
    Have a great party!!!

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  8. Your different scenarios were hilarious!

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  9. Comet goldfish- the feeder goldfish that you bought- need at least 20 gallon tanks, per fish- they produce a huge amount of ammonia, and you cannot change the water in a bowl often enough to keep up with them. That's why so many of them are dead in the tank when you see them in petstores. They get sick from the poor water quality. They also can't live in tank water dumped in from the sink- tanks should cycle for at least a month before adding fish to allow the growth of good bacteria and microorganisms. Handing out a goldfish with some water conditioner and food to people unprepared for a new pet is really kind of unfair on the parents of the children and on the fish itself- a goldfish has a lot of needs most people are not prepared to meet. Dragging out a death by suffocation due to dirty water, vs a quick death by being eaten by a turtle or used as bait, isn't really doing the fish a favor.
    I know fish aren't large, complex mammals that we identify with as readily, but they do feel pain and discomfort and deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.

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    Replies
    1. 20 gallons per fish? You must be in a tank selling business. I have raised goldfish for years. A 20 gallon tank with october filters can easily support 10 fish....get real!

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    2. These fish can live up to 25 years with proper care and filtration. Comet goldfish; the goldfish that are commonly sold as feeders, can grow up to a foot long. These are all facts, proven here:https://www.google.ca/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjQxOm08Y7LAhVqmYMKHYo7DjIQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailymail.co.uk%2Fnews%2Farticle-3320432%2FGoldfish-big-Subway-sandwich-gets-angry-violent-isn-t-fed-time.html&psig=AFQjCNGideQNQscTtcOQx1W7HvEcm54s9w&ust=1456351245852353 and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8LU_dmLJq8

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    3. I buy 10 feeder goldfish for my oscar, put em all in the tank at once. And he dosnt need eat again for 2weeks. On one particular feeding he chased down and got to 8 of em, but 2 of em he couldn't catch. And i still have the 2 goldfish that lived. And there the size of my oscar now. Lol

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  10. We buy feeder fish all the time at Petco (for our turtle and a few for our duck to chase in his pool) and we have never ever been questioned about our intent with the fish. they just scooped them and put them in a bag and we paid for them and left. Weird that they gave you trouble. We never said one way or the other what we were going to do with the fish and we were never asked.

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  11. Wow.

    I used to buy feeder fish to use as food for the turtles we used to have. First of all, the fish were housed with a hundred or more friends at the store, in a tank that was way too small, and there were always a few dead buddies floating around in the tank that had yet to be cleaned out. Ridiculous that the store refused to sell to you.

    I have given out goldfish to people too. I always give them out in a bowl (lots of choices from the dollar store), with food, and with proper care instructions. I have also only ever given them out to people who wouldn't mind caring for them and being responsible pet owners. They were big hits every time!

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  12. I about dies reading this post out loud with my daughter!

    I hope both Isaac and Miriam, had a wonderful party today! Can't wait to read all about it! :)

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  13. Feeder goldfish have rights too!
    /snark

    :-P

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  14. "minimum wage sales guy". Would love to know why his wages are significant?
    Lindsay

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  15. Wow, REALLY? Petco has a problem with selling flippin' gold fish, yet they sell ferrets there that look sad, malnourished, and cramped in a tiny space?! How the heck does this make any sense? This is just offensive to me that they would do this to you. Absurd!!

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  16. I was thinking since you so clearly love children, are so articulate and seem to love a good fight, why not channel all that energy and fire and time into something useful like speaking up against these kind of things

    http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/12/chocolates-child-slaves/?

    In light of these genuine travesties, getting all heated about a couple of fish seems a bit silly when there are, dare I say it... bigger fish to fry.

    Just a thought.

    Lindsay

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  17. You don't give out pets as party favors, regardless of the animal they take care and you can't guarantee what care they will get. Also very annoying to parents who are being saddled with these. Very few shelters, rescue groups or breeders will allow you to buy animals as gifts either. Really this is just common sense and not an attack on you. I'm thrilled this is the Petco policy, even though I don't agree with the condition of their animals in stores. As for the woman who agreed it was "silly" maybe it was easier to say that in order to get you off the phone.
    I assume you are fine with me being concerned with the welfare of creatures since I don't eat any meat, including fish, or wear anything that comes from the death of an animal, so I get to be on my high horse.

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  18. Scenario number one was my Favorite, you should still totally go back and tell them that just for laughs!

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  19. LOL!! That is funny Zsuzsa! I pictured you and 6 small children standing in there and wondering if you were on candid camera!!! HA!!!!! FUNNY and twisted all in one.

    Jessica

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  20. My response would have been "WHO CARES what I do with the fish???" Oh my...how bizarre! Wonder where the fairs and carnivals get their fish for those little games in which people actually THROW items into little bowls with LIVE fish in them? Ha ha...very funny. You have the greatest stories! :)

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  21. Ohmygosh, I'm laughing so hard. I'm totally going to go there tomorrow and try and buy some fish. I'm going to tell them I like to throw them on the ground and watch my chickens go after them.

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  22. Crazy Petco that is just nuts! We always go to Petsmart we knew the owner when our boys were little and played on a baseball team and the owners are Christians. One year I called a petsmart for a harvest festival we were having at church where the kids could win them by throwing a ping pong ball in the small fish bowl and they donated 250 fish and even offered to put them in seperate bags for us!!!!

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  23. I agree with M Young. Unfair to parents who send their kid to a birthday party and end up with a pet.

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  24. Petsmart is a corporation, owned by shareholders. Not by one worker in a store. Maybe he was management?

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  25. Soooo funny! I seriously laughed so hard thru this entire post!!!!! Thank u! Wow :-)

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  26. As a pet store employee, I cannot tell you how many annoyed parents come in, begging me to take back the goldfish their child was given at a party, or won at the fair. You are giving away burdens that people do not necessarily want. I believe that goldfish, or any live pet, makes for a horrible party favor. Not only is it rude, cruel, but it shows a lack of creativity. There are plenty of cruelty-free options when it comes to party favors, especially with a fun theme like "Under the Sea".

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  27. Most people are under the impression that goldfish are a cheap and easy pet, but actually, when kept in proper conditions, goldfish grow between eight inches to two feet (depending on the species) and live for about twenty years. Sadly, because of the way they're marketed, the average pet goldfish lives to be only two, for a couple of reasons. That they'll cease to grow if kept in a bowl is a half-truth; their skeleton may remain stunted, but their organs will continue to expand until it kills them, if the water condition or suffocation doesn't first. Contrary to belief, goldfish aren't labyrinth breathers like betta fish. The labyrinth is an organ that allows the fish to breathe air, which is why bettas (or siamese fighting fish) can live in small containers. Goldfish are actually high-oxygen, high-waste fish- they can only get oxygen from the water and they need a lot of it to be healthy, and they also produce massive amounts of waste, so much so that people who maintain them professionally reccomend a filter that's twice as powerful for the tank size the goldfish is in. Because of the need for space to grow, the amount of oxygen needed to keep the fish healthy and living, and the quickness of how dirty a goldfish's water gets, the recommended size tank for just one is twenty gallons. Taking into account that goldfish are a social species, you'll actually need forty gallons, because a goldie without a friend is more prone to stress-related illness. What's more, Comets (the feeder variety) are actually the goldies that grow to be the largest; two feet. They're usually kept in ponds rather than tanks because of that.
    So while it might have seemed ridiculous for this employee to refuse sale, it does make sense when you take into account that being used as bait, at least, would be a quick death, while languishing in a bowl, dying slowly, is a much more terrible fate. Goldfish are gorgeous and amazing, and I don't think you had any ill intention by using them in your party plans. I hope this information will keep you from using them in the future, though. If you ever feel tempted to use fish again, I would recommend bettas or gouramis.

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  28. (Also, no, goldfish aren't more deserving of life than children, but they do still deserve a good life as one of god's precious animals!)

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  29. I just saw a guy go nuts in petsmart today because he was buying fish for a party and wanted goldfish and told her what they were for and she refused to sell them. I googled what the deal was and found this page... hilariius. He tried to take it back and say oh well I have an alligator and need some for him anyways and they said once he said thy were for a party they can't and if they see him in there again they still won't in the future. I didn't understand the whole thing. But meanwhile I was getting hassled over want ing to buy a algea eater..questioned the hell out of me about everything over a 1.30 clearanced fish

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  30. I know you had good intentions on making it fun for your guests but, your forcing parents to take on a pet that most don't know how to take care of. Goldfish release a lot of ammonia in the water as a waste product and if the water isn't taken care of properly it can become extremely dangerous and even fatal to the fish. They also need aeration to help with the depleted oxygen levels that occur because of the ammonia. I hope other people that posted here saying that giving out fish was a good idea actually change their mind. I know they were meant to be food for other animals but your making them to die a slow a torturous death. Next time give out goldfish crackers or swedish fish candies instead of the live fish.

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  31. Why didn't you just give out plastic goldfish or cracker goldfish?

    Live animals aren't meant to be accessories or favors, their creatures/. Plus goldfish poop too much. Sorry but they cannot live in bowls they live in ponds or 50 gallon tanks, 20-30 gallon for fancy goldfish

    I hope you never ever do anything like that again

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  32. I don't know what's worse, demonizing people who actually care about the welfare of the fish, or the fact that you see feeder goldfish as nothing more than trash...the fishkeepers that know what they're doing don't even buy petsmart feeder fish, too risky for infection, and the inhumane conditions of the fish etc. It's funny how you say "They're just feeder goldfish", when in reality, if I took 20 feeder mice and put them in small boxes and gave them away to kids who wouldn't take care of them properly, you would probably call me a "dumb ignoramus with no compassion for animals". They may be feeder goldfish, but when your talking about giving away goldfish as pets who, lets face it, will end up in a 5 gallon fishbowl at the most, instead of being at the least food for a healthy taken care of fish, it will suffer a dibilitating life. Goldfish are relatives of carp, and if you've seen a carp before, they can get pretty big. Goldfish should have 15 gallons minimum for solitary specimens, even then I'd think that's way too small. Goldfish live a long time and grow very big, not to mention they excrete a lot of waste. Please stop spreading the mantra that "fish are like flies". That's why the guy and probably all the people who know what we're talking about find this absolutely disgusting and mortifying, because, albeit being "feeder" goldfish, they are still animals, and for the record, when you give them away as pets, they are no longer "feeder" goldfish-plain and simple if they are not being used to feed other fish they cannot be considered in the realm of "fodder" and must be treated and respected as pets. If you can't respect that you shouldn't even be stepping into a petstore in the first place. This is why I am against pet chains selling live fish, because a lot of their fish end up suffering because of scenarios like this. "Ignorance is bliss" is an ironic saying, because your ignorance of fishkeeping, and the subsequent bashing of people who are trying to give pets the best lives possible just makes you look all the more bad...i didn't mean to attack you but this is should be taken seriously. I mean, we're supposed to take care of pets and if you can't do it right you shouldn't do it at all? Would you have some halfwit watch your pet dog for a month after you had a conversation with them telling you how much they hate dogs? I side with the employee on that one. Tanks for doing something good for once! That's PetSMART!

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  33. I purchased a dozen feeder goldfish at Petco to control the insects in the 250 gallon pond insert in my yard. The associate thought I could go as much as 3 dozen, but I chose to start small. They have survived 3 Illinois winters in a pond 18 inches at the deepest; the 20 gallon suggestion may be right on the mark.

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  34. Just so grateful I've not been invited to any of your parties. Last thing I need is a goldfish to take home with me! Good grief. What you think are high points for originality are just low points for thoughtlessness of others.

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  35. people are overly sensitive. I would take the goldfish and put it on a hook (totally legal here in Mississippi) and say "look baby that's how we turn a little fish into a big catfish" and that's not cruel but actually pretty amazing to a child as long as they haven't developed feelings for the fish.

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  36. Those goldfish died slow and painful deaths.

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  37. You should never be cruel to any creature, even fish. My goldfish are in 40 gallons with a canister filter rated to 180 gallons.
    Please be kind to all things, especially when people with training tell you that it's wrong to do what you're doing.

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    1. Well then, someone should probably tell Petsmart that keeping over 100 goldfish in a 20 gallon tank is wrong. Apparently it's only wrong when their customers do it...

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  38. On one hand I can understand where the employee was coming from. Yes they are all cramped into a way too small of a tank, but they also have a HUGE filter on that little tank to keep down the insane ammonia amounts that gold fish give off in their wastes. If you are going to keep a goldfish as a pet, it's true 20 gallons for the first and 10 gallons for each additional fish. They can get quite large depending on the type of goldfish.
    HOWEVER, THEY ARE FEEDERS. They are bred to die. The next time you go to buy feeders, just tell the a**hole who thinks he/she knows what they are talking about, (I say think because I've had many a run in with petco employee's who tried to tell me that feeding my Jaguar Cichlid ANY live fish isn't the proper way to care for her, even though she is a live fish eatter in the wild) you are buying them to feed an Oscar. I've bought 500 feeders at a time, told the people they are going into a 10 gallon tank, and never once was asked if I was feeding them to a bigger fish or keeping them as pets.

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  39. This is utterly ridiculous, but it's not an isolated incident, unfortunately. I had the exact same experience today when trying to buy a couple of goldfish for my daughter as a birthday present she's been looking forward to for months. The (Petsmart) employee first told me that the 2 goldfish my daughter wanted were too big for my tank (3 gal, with filter and airstone), so I suggested we only buy one. She still refused and said she would only sell me one of the smaller goldfish in another tank and that really even for those I should have a minimum of a 20 gal tank (for one freaking half inch long fish!!!) even though they actually had about 30 of them crammed into 1/2 of a 10 gal tank with a divider in the middle (and 2 of them were dead)!?!? Who do these people think they are? If a 3 gallon tank is too small for the fish they sell, then WHY DO THEY EVEN SELL 3 GALLON TANKS?!? This is just so preposterous that I almost can't believe it actually happened. PETA Nazi's gone wild! Oh well, next time I will just tell them that I have a 50 gallon tank with no fish in it yet. I wonder if they will demand proof? Or perhaps a sworn statement? When I was a kid, I had 5 goldfish in a 1 gallon bowl with no aeration or filtering of any kind, and they lived quite happily for more than 5 years. These people are nuts.

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    Replies
    1. Not every species and breed can live in every size tank. Try taking a gray hound and put in to a doghouse for a poodle.

      3 gallon tanks are fine for a betta or even a pair of male guppies, even a small school of tetras provided it is maintained every week. Goldfish, not so much.

      If you want a nice fish in a three gallon tank, talk to an expert and have them setup a planted three gallon with a few neons.

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  40. I hope this mom learned her lesson and took the time to do research. Feeder or not they deserve a life that is as pain-free as possible.

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  41. Fancy goldfish need 20gal per fish just swimming room, common goldfish need more,, this is the reason why people put them in ponds, imagine a 12" long fish in what you described as having no established aquarium, do you screen all your party participants to see if they have an appropriate home for them? What surprises me about this world is how the employee working at a pet store cared about the pets and all you all can do is condemn him for giving sound advice, should have just gave out puppys, far more people have yards than adequately sized aquariums that have taken the month or two to establish beneficial bacteria, so the fish will continue living a healthy life. If your not familiar with the nitrification process you shouldn't keep fish. Just for the record5 I keep fancy goldfish and feed feeder goldfish to my monster fish. Also the tanks at least at the petsmart near me looks cramped but gets freshwater pumped in so the cramped quarters are swimm room only. For a future option I would have provided all the supply but not the fish so the soon to be owner can make a more educated decision not based on an ill prepared care sheet, Petco and petsmart care sheets are often wrong.
    Arm yourself with knowledge and less animals may die

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