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Fishy business: Caring for animals big and small

By: Dr. Megan McAndrew, Vice President of Medical Programs & Chief Medical Officer

Last week, officials with the City of Burnsville, Minn., shared photos of a massive goldfish found in a local lake. Goldfish should never be released into the wild. First, not all species of goldfish can survive outdoors. Second, goldfish can live up to 30 years, are considered an invasive species, and can negatively impact native fish and plants if released in local lakes and natural ponds.

Since the discovery of the large goldfish, a lot of misinformation has been shared with the public regarding what to do if you can no longer care for your fish, including placing the goldfish in the freezer for a quick death. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines, freezing is not a humane way to euthanize a goldfish and can result in prolonged suffering for the animal.

Here are a few recommendations if you can no longer care for your goldfish:

  1. Re-home your fish. Reach out to friends, co-workers, neighbors, pet supply stores, and post your fish on neighborhood listservs. Goldfish make excellent, low-maintenance pets. They are social animals and prefer to share their tank with other fish, so someone may be interested in getting a friend for their pet fish. 
  2. Surrender your goldfish to your local animal shelter. (In April we adopted out 143 goldfish after they were rescued from a backyard pond).

A few other Goldfish fun facts:

  • Goldfish do require, at a minimum, a 20-gallon tank because they can grow to be anywhere between 6 inches and 2 feet long!
  • Goldfish live and sleep with their eyes open because they don’t have eyelids.
  • Goldfish have a sense of routine and can learn to do cool tricks, such as swimming through hoops and pulling levers to release food.

At the Humane Rescue Alliance, we work to make sure every animal is given the same opportunity for a safe and loving home, regardless of their species. To learn more about adding a furry or fishy friend to your family, visit humanerescuealliance.org/adopt.


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