Are Pet Fish “Pethical”?

Last week, I had a lively discussion with my friends on the ethics of owning an animal companion; specifically, pet fish. We all had different approaches to this matter, and I will be examining this topic from many angles (although the whole article will be slightly slanted towards my perspective which remained unaffected). Personally, I think it is wrong to support the industry.

Many may argue that, as pet owners, they are actually doing the pets good because it allows them to steer clear of predation. Wow, aren’t you a mighty hero? If they were to stay at home their whole life in order to remain in a secure environment, I bet they would be the happiest creatures ever.

That being said, let’s talk numbers. Worldwide the pet fish sector makes up to 300$ million a year according to UNEP. As a pet fish owner, one contributes to an industry that captures more than 20 million fish, 12 million corals, and 10 million other types of marine life from their wild life to satisfy their “innocent” hobbies. Therefore, fish owners support a greedy, ruthless industry.

We underestimate fish: they have sharp cognitive abilities that allow them to communicate through lowfrequency sounds. By isolating them, we are compromising their mental health because, yes, they do feel pain. Fish have complex nervous systems; in fact, we notice an increased heart rate, contraction of muscles and tendencies to want to escape their tanks.

My article has come to an end, but your job begins NOW. Don’t support the tropical fish trade! If you want a pet fish, go to a pet rescue center. If you own a fish, do not take any drastic action. Releasing them into the ocean is not the best idea, because the odds are that it is not its natural environment (since lots of fish actually come from Pacific islands). Also, for the love of Gogh, don’t flush it down your toilet, because it is doomed to die in the plumbing system or the water treatment plant. All in all, offer it a lot of love and proper living conditions.

Rathuja Sivasubramaniam
Opinions Editor

Originally published in Bandersnatch Vol. 47 Issue 11 on March 28, 2018