Diary of a Fish in Captivity

It is easy to recognize pain and discomfort in most animals. They make uncomfortable noises, hide in a corner of the room, or put on a sad face. But how do you recognize a fish in distress? One that is held in a glass box, on display for all of his life, like a piece of live entertainment? Imagine if they could really tell us how they felt? Would we still do the things we do to these sentient beings?

Monday: If fish could talk...

Fish in captivity"Sure it's nice to have a place to myself... But can you imagine how lonely it is to be held captive inside this box all by myself? OK, so no one gets in my way and I can take it easy eating my food. That's all good, but who do I talk to when I am alone, huh? Sometimes I start seeing ghosts, or even fish that look like me. Turns out, it is me... I start talking to my own reflection, how sad is that? Sometimes it scares me half to death.

Do I exist?

My tank is not even in a nice place, like a warm and cozy living room. It is a cold room that the humans use to store their other animals. Two massive dogs sleep in the room where my tank is. They keep me 'company' at night. Do they ever look at me or talk to me, though? No... They don't even look at me, don't even acknowledge me. It is like I don't exist. The person who bought me as a 'pet' hardly comes to see me. Even my feeding is done automatically."

Tuesday: Sleepless nights

Fish in captivity"Another sleepless night, that makes me so grumpy. The black dog again, she was snoring like crazy! You would think that this glass and all the water would keep the noise out. Unfortunately, it doesn't. It's just the other way around, it only reinforces all the sounds. They keep bouncing around in my tank and stress me out. Just because I don't have visible ears, doesn't mean I don't hear things. My hearing is very good actually and I am quite a sensitive being. I wish humans would realize that.

I'll just focus on the automatic feeder, maybe there's something nice and delicious in it today. Right, who am I fooling? It's always the same tasteless tea leaves..."

“Whoever came up with the idea that fish only have a 5-sec memory, is as daft as a doorknob.”

- A disgruntled fish

Wednesday: What's this then?

Fish in captivity"That reminds me, I have to talk again to the interior decorator. This tank here is not doing it for me. Why do these crazy humans always think fish tanks need to be filled with useless junk, like treasure chests and other knick-knacks? It's bad enough that the plants are plastic. How about some real nice plants, huh? For instance, a little moving forest of kelp, so I can hide whenever I feel like it. And nibble at it a bit, whenever I've had enough of all the dry food.

You got that, human? These decorations might look nice to you, but what does it do for me? Think about that for once when you put a fish in captivity."

Thursday: Leave me alone!

Fish in captivity"Stop staring at me! Who is that guy with the photo camera anyway? I did see some new people yesterday. They did look friendly. Maybe they will let me out? If they had some heart they'd see that keeping a fish in captivity is just morally wrong. Wishful thinking of course. They just stare at me, like I am a novelty act. Can they not see I don't want to be here?

And get me my kelp forest! Didn't I ask for that yesterday? Yes, I do remember that. Whoever came up with the idea that fish only have a 5-second memory, is as daft as a doorknob. I hear it all and remember it all, you better believe it!"

Facts about goldfish

  • Goldfish have taste buds on the inside surface of their mouth and externally around their lips
  • They develop a ring on their scaly body for every year of their life, which determines their age. The oldest living goldfish is 40 years old.
  • They see more colors than humans. They can see four colors, instead of the three primary colors (red, blue and yellow) observed by humans.
  • They have a memory span that is far longer than 5 seconds. Scientists have proven that goldfish memory spans can be as long as five months.

Source: The Economic Times

Friday: I can't breathe

Fish in captivity"Despite what most of these silly humans think, fish do breathe. We desperately need that oxygen coming into the water. Then why did these people put this stupid cover on my tank? I need air, dammit!

OK, it could be worse. I could be in some of those ridiculous spherical bowls, the ones that are typically associated with goldfish. However, the smaller the opening at the top, the less oxygen I get. At least 'my' people had the presence of mind to get me a 'larger' tank every time I grew bigger."

Saturday: What do you want?!

Fish in captivity"Now, this guy again! Didn't I tell you before to stop staring at me, and stop taking my photograph! The least you can do is press the automatic feeder button for an extra serving to make up for all the stress.

Jeez, I need to take it easy... It can't be good for my blood pressure, being agitated all the time. You would think, what could possibly worry a fish in captivity? Well, what else am I going to do, meditate? Serenity now...

Press that feeder button, bozo!"

Sunday: I have had enough! Let me out!!

Fish in captivity"What day of the week is it anyway? Time flies by when you are having fun. This ugly glass box has been my home for ages. No company, no partner to rid me of my natural urges, no place to hide. The food is always the same, it's cold, there is no entertainment. I have had enough of this! Let me out! Just flush me down the toilet, I don't care anymore. I'll take my chances in the free world. Everything is better than being a lonely fish in captivity!"


Fiction or reality?

Although this is obviously a work of fiction, it might very well be truly what fish are experiencing. In fact, it is likely to be true. I was a caregiver for this fish during one of my house sits and observed him. It was almost like he was talking to me, screaming through the glass.

Possessions without rights

But what could I do? Fish, like any other 'companion animal' are possessions without rights. If I were to release the fish, I would get sued. And then again, would he have been better off, flushed down the toilet or left in a nearby river where he has no natural defenses against predators or disease? It's a moral dilemma that as a vegan looking after other people's animals, I am always struggling with. The only thing I can do is educate and have discussions. So that others will hopefully notice what 'their animals' are really trying to tell them.

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