Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I was recently reminded about our tendency to humanize animals, when someone asked me: "What are their names?", referring to my ranchu. Despite their cute nature and personalities, I refrained from naming them for a couple of reasons.

As with most pets, we project our emotions onto them and justify many of their actions through our own perception. While in some cases it might work with dogs and cats alike, interaction with goldfish, I think, is entirely different case.

Naming the ranchu could be my first step toward humanizing them, which could lead to possible future mistakes in their care. Extreme example would be a vegan person who feeds its goldfish only vegan food, malnourishing them because of beliefs. I have seen that happen. Or imagine a goldfish with a catchy name "Sparkly" in solitary confinement with best care and love provided. We can give goldfish all we think it needs, without realizing that we have failed to accommodate its very basic needs. Goldfish are social and require to be in a school of their own kind. We can not fulfill "Sparkly's" social needs with just "baby fish talk". And yes, fish can get depressed, as shown in studies. 

Second reason for not naming my fish is an issue with attachment. Not everyone realizes or accepts the fact that to produce one high quality ranchu a lot of fish needs to be culled. As statistis show, depending on variety, it takes 1 out of every 100, or as much as 2000 goldfish fry to meet the standards and become a show or future breeder goldfish. The rest are rejected and passed as a "pet grade" or euthanized. It is quite impossible to keep every fish from every spawn, and frankly many would not even survive. This is the reality of selective breeding in goldfish.

I have to get use to a goldfish breeder's attitude as oppose to pet owner's. Eventually, I would like to breed them myself and the culling part of the process might not be an easy one, and might take time to get used to. It will be more helpful for me if I remain emotional outsider, learning intricacies of goldfish keeping and understanding them at their level.

It wouldn't hurt our goldfish either way, with or without the name or a little "baby fish talk", as long as we keep learning about them, treat them like a fish and respond to their needs like to a fish. Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

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