News - February 14, 2008

Goldfish grief

The Party for the Animals submitted forty-two motions last week during a debate on animal welfare in parliament. The plan to outlaw the traditional spherical fishbowl received most attention.

While many reacted with howls of derision, Professor Johan Verreth, chair of Aquaculture and Fisheries, gave a more sober response in the science pages of de Volkskrant. The goldfish is not to be envied, according to Verreth. They can live as long as thirty years, but the average Dutch goldfish rarely makes it to six months. An adult goldfish can reach forty centimetres in length and weigh as much as a kilo, but hardly ever achieves these proportions. A goldfish suffers most, says Verreth, not from the shape of the bowl, but from the inexpert handling of its owners. They expose their pets to big temperature fluctuations by keeping them in direct sunlight. And you’d think a goldfish would welcome clean water, but plunge it into fresh cold water, and its body temperature plummets ten degrees in just seconds. Verreth’s advice: buy a spacious aquarium with a pump and water plants.’