“Taken”: Goldfish Edition


By Sandra_M_H at Pixabay.

Olivia Janicek, Spear Contributor

Maybe you had one as a young kid. Staring restlessly into the glass bowl of colorful gravel, enchanting plastic plants, and fake structures from the local pet store. Then, finally, you brought him home. Your very own fish. You vowed to care for him and protect him all through your days. Provide him with perfectly clean water, fresh food each morning, and a descriptive name. Something like ‘Bubbles’ or ‘Orangey’ or something of that creative realm. Everyone knows goldfish. If you don’t, they’re less than a dollar at the Petco across the street.

The Beginning

Biology recently had its newest lab. Students were test the effect of water temperature on goldfish respiration rates. Almost all groups took an immediate liking to the fish. Even though they are not an uncommon organism and are extremely affordable. Still, the idea of having a pet, something living and breathing, in the school environment was childishly… invigorating. Nevertheless, all lab groups named the fish with laughter and proceeded through the lab. After the lab was finished (without any goldfish fatalities), students returned their goldfish with sorrow to the large tank. Unfortunately, as predicted, some teenagers took it a step further… By taking the goldfish home.  

No goldfish deserves such a fate, being rocked around in a bottle on the side of someone’s backpack.

— Olivia Janicek

The Struggle

It wasn’t the fact that they had stolen the goldfish that was so incredibly concerning. Though annoying, they weren’t expensive pets. It was more how irresponsible freshmen or sophomores had decided to steal the fish… Most took it, in a water bottle. Sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Some hilarity that would spark some fun and laughter on someone’s Snapchat story. I don’t deny the creativity or the fact that these stories made me snicker, but let’s be honest here, shall we? This is on the scale of animal cruelty. No goldfish deserves such a fate, being rocked around in a bottle on the side of someone’s backpack.

The Horror

To my dismay, that wasn’t the worst of it. Students also report goldfish being swallowed (live and squirming) on bets. Another one reports a high schooler tossing its goldfish onto the roof of a Del Taco, splattering the poor thing in execution. I don’t know all the stories and I’m sure there’s worse fish tales out there. However, students need to understand that purposefully murdering a fish is considered a felony. In 2004, a man by the name of Michael Garcia was convicted of felony animal cruelty after stomping a child’s goldfish to death out of uncontrollable rage. (Animal Legal Defense Fund). That’s right, that little nickel costing goldfish can stain your criminal record for eternity. Whether out of rage, out of comedy, or for popularity, that simple little goldfish could haunt you on every job application and more for the rest of your life.

A Resolution

Now, the science teachers do have to do something with all of the lab fish. They are considering releasing them to students after school on Monday of next week, but are hesitant after the horrific actions of students. If you want to take a fish, do it humanely. It’s totally fine to have a pet. Give it a good home, not a water bottle. Provide it with food, keep it from starving. Treat it like a living thing. And don’t throw it on to the roof of Del Taco.