The Sad Life of a Goldfish

Over break, I was hanging out at my cousins house and observing her goldfish. She told me how it had been alive for 3 years. The fish barely even moved, and was in a small boring fish bowl. I felt bad for the little fella. What a terrible life! Being trapped with nowhere to swim and no companions must be terrible. I said that to my cousin, and she replied that "fish have a memory span of 3 seconds." I found that insane and hard to believe. (I also made a note in my phone to write a blog about it, and here I am) She explained that goldfish can't remember anything after 3 seconds, so the fish doesn't really know how boring its life is cause it can't remember anything! The fish basically never knows where it is. Lets observe the memory, and the general life of a goldfish.

                 Dory is a very forgetful fish in the movie 'Finding Nemo'
When I searched on google 'the memory of a goldfish', the second link had a title named "Three-second memory myth". The article says that fish can recall information for up to five months. Scientists observed that goldfish that were trained to respond to a certain sound, still reacted to the sound months later in the wild. Also, fish were able to respond to certain movements, lights, and sounds. For example, a goldfish would know it was getting fed if it saw a bright red light. Months later, the fish still responded to the light. So, now that I know fish CAN remember past 3 seconds, I feel even more bad for these captive goldfish!

On top of having an extremely boring life, that life is short-lived. The longest my goldfish has ever lasted was about a year, which I thought was very long for a goldfish. It turns out that improper care is very common. Without proper filtration of the tank, a fish will not survive as long. It also depends on tank size, and whether the fish is being over/under fed. With that kind of care, a goldfish will live 10-15 months. A goldfish can live up to 5 days, or 25 years! The oldest recorded goldfish lived to be 44 years old!!

The life of a goldfish depends on the owner and environment. A goldfish living in the wild will have a natural and satisfying life. But, the lone goldfish left in a small fish bowl, will most likely die young and not happy. And if you think they don't know any better, they do, because they can remember things from up to 5 months in the past. Laws are being placed recently to fight against improper care of goldfish and domestic violence against goldfish. San Francisco has recently banned goldfish, and a man was recently convicted of felony animal cruelty for stomping on a goldfish. I am happy that actions are being taken to fight for goldfish, because even though they're such a small creature, you still have to feel for them! 

I am interested to hear how long some of your goldfish have lived. Comment please.


My poor fella only lasted me 4 months. I took the best care of Fishy. Unfortunately, I had to go to work at a summer camp for four weeks and Fishy was in the hands of my mom. According to my little sister my mom never changed it's water. I was devastated when he passed. I don't like that the San Francisco Animal Control and Welfare Commission is trying to ban goldfish. It's ridiculous. An important part of growing up is buying a goldfish, rushing home, putting it in the bowl, giving it a name and then two days later finding it floating upside down covered in fin rot. Flushing "Fishy" down the toilet is some kids’ first introduction to the important life lessons of “death”. I don't think it's important to encourage proper appropriate care for goldfish but unfortunately it's almost impossible to enforce it. I wonder what the penalty would be. Very interesting blog.

Goldfish have very primitive brains. It is true they can remember more than 3 seconds at a time, but there is not much they can do with that knowledge. Goldfish only have enough brain function to meet their basic needs. These fish are not even on the same level as dogs.

Dumb Fish

My goldfish lasted for about 4 years! We had a ton of them in a really insane tank with a good filter system and my mom wouldn't let the tank ever get dirty. Of course my brothers and I constantly forgot to take care of them so it became my mom's official duty. She did an amazing job though. After reading this article I feel so bad for the little guys that I don't think I plan on every having goldfish again. It also makes me think about hermit crabs. I have a hermit crab secretly living in my dorm, and I love him. But sometimes I feel bad that he's not living out in the wild. He seems happy as anything most of the time but it's not like I'll ever really know. In this article I found it's now become apparent to me that my hermit crab would probably be happier if I got him a friend... which I will now plan on doing over winter break! For anyone else who has a lone hermit crab, read this article to see that they actually are happier with companions.

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