If your kids have ever won a goldfish at a local fair, you probably didn't go out and buy a huge tank, but instead purchased a tiny fishbowl that you could place almost anywhere in your home. Bad idea, some experts say, and now one pet care company won't sell the bowls at all. Reuters reports that French aquarium seller AgroBiothers Laboratoire will no longer provide round fishbowls as part of its inventory, claiming that cramming a goldfish into such a small space drastically slashes its life span and amounts to abuse. "People buy a goldfish for their kids on impulse, but if they knew what a torture it is, they would not do it," the company's CEO, Matthieu Lambeaux, tells the news outlet. "Turning round and round in a small bowl drives fish crazy and kills them quickly."
Lambeaux notes that goldfish are social marine creatures who crave other fish as company, and that they need a lot of room in clean water to move around. When they're relegated to cramped quarters in small glass bowls, they often die in just a few months, or even weeks; out in the wild, they can live up to three decades. The dangers of fishbowls have long been on PETA's radar, and the PetHelpful site delves more into why they're bad for our gilled friends, including lack of room for a filter, difficulty in regulating the bowl's temperature, and a poor surface-to-air ratio, meaning the fish might not get enough oxygen.
The site also notes that the curvature of the bowl distorts the fish's view, which can stress them out: "Imagine if huge blurry blobs were walking around your window every day." Germany and other countries in the EU have had a ban on fishbowls for some time, but France doesn't have any such laws on the books. That's why AgroBiothers, which claims nearly one-third of the pet products market share in France, has decided to act on its own, even though consumers continue to clamor for the product. "There is demand for fishbowls, but the reality is that what we offer children is the possibility to see goldfish die slowly," Lambeaux says. (Read more fish stories.)