Stick to stuffed animals at fest

Published 9:45 pm Thursday, October 15, 2015

I wonder how many of the fish won at carnival games during Peanut Festival are still alive.

It continues to amaze me that every Peanut Festival, the carnival is allowed to flout a city ordinance (Sec. 10-3) that prohibits “any live animal, fish, reptile or bird” being offered as a prize for a game, inducement to enter a place of amusement or incentive for any business agreement.

There’s a good reason for this rule, which the city was wise to enact but doesn’t seem to be enforcing all that much.

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Goldfish, which are the live prize most often given for carnival games, require far more care than many people — least of all the children who win them at carnivals — give them credit for.

Many of the goldfish won at carnivals will find themselves living in a small bowl with no filtration, which is a recipe for disaster for most any fish, particularly one that produces as much waste as a goldfish.

Goldfish are members of the carp family and can easily grow to at least 8 inches or more, depending on the variety. It’s probably safe to say many of the goldfish won last weekend, if they’re still alive, are living in bowls with far less room than 8 inches. Such a small habitat will cause them to suffer from stress and organ compaction and will eventually kill them, if they don’t first die from too much ammonia — a byproduct of the bodily functions of fish as well as decomposing waste and food — in the water as a result of not having proper filtration.

Many people who win a fish at a carnival game that only cost them a few bucks to enter are not going to go to a store on the way home and spend hundreds of dollars on a proper setup, and they probably don’t already have a pond in their backyard. So they do what costs them the least amount of money: they plop the fish in a cheap bowl and (hopefully) buy food and tap water conditioner at the store.

Little wonder, then, that a fish with a lifespan that should be years is dead in a matter of days or, at most, weeks. This is why most people wouldn’t spend so much money on a proper setup. They believe the fish will be dead soon anyway.

My applause goes to those new fish owners who do have their goldfish in a proper setup. I’m sure there are a few. And this column isn’t meant to chastise those who didn’t know their bowl isn’t a proper home for their fish. If your fish are still alive, I encourage you to do some online research and perhaps invest in a larger tank with filtration. Your fish will thank you, and it’s a very enjoyable hobby.

As for the festival’s carnival area, I hope it will stick to the stuffed variety of animal prizes from now on.