A viral TikTok post has people saying, “Thanks but no tanks,” to stores that sell live fish. One creator shared a video on social media that appears to show a fish tank containing a few live goldfish swimming amid a heap of dead ones, reportedly filmed at a Virginia PetSmart location. The store doesn’t even seem to be trying to hide how bad conditions are for the animals there. Can you imagine being trapped in a small room with a pile of your closest friends dead on the floor?
Viewers commented that they have seen similar things at other PetSmart stores. Just months before the release of this video, another TikTok user shared footage she had shot of a box full of cups of live fish in a dumpster behind a PetSmart location in Idaho, tossed in the trash with no regard for their lives or their suffering.
If this is what’s on public display, imagine the immense misery that pet stores may be hiding away from public view.
After a Vice reporter investigated PetSmart and published findings about the company’s treatment of animals that she says forced her into treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, the news site gave store staffers an outlet to report what they had seen. One employee explained that “four consecutive shipments of fish quickly died upon entering [PetSmart’s] tanks.” She said, “It affects the mental health of so many of us when we have a lot of sick and dead animals in the store.”
A Few Fun Facts About Goldfish
- Goldfish have impressive memories and problem-solving abilities.
- They communicate with each other through body language and pheromones.
- If goldfish are stressed, they alert other fish to any potential dangers in the water. Fish in their school then exhibit a stress response as well, which may be due to oxytocin, the same brain chemical responsible for empathy in humans.
- Goldfish have the ability to recognize individual fish and form friendships.
Fish are complex, intelligent beings. They experience a wide range of emotions and suffer greatly when pet stores exploit them to make a buck or two. Goldfish can live for up to 30 years, but most die far short of that when humans confine them to unstimulating, cramped tanks and aren’t able to meet these sensitive animals’ unique needs. They deserve better.
PETA investigations have demonstrated that PetSmart, Petco, and the seedy breeding mills that supply them do not prioritize the well-being of the animals in their care, and you might be wondering what you can do. Speak out when you see something that doesn’t seem right, and never buy anyone or anything—not even a container of fish food—from stores that sell living, feeling beings.