Published by Michelle Feinberg.

I recently looked into adopting a goldfish, because my roommate has one and I wanted to get that fish a friend. Despite any rumors you may have heard, goldfish are intelligent, sensitive, social animals. They can experience loneliness, boredom, excitement, and fear.

Goldfish friends - two goldfish - gold and white

Plus, they can remember faces and escape routes and learn to play games like soccer and limbo. That whole “three-second memory” thing is flat-out wrong.

And because we know that goldfish not only much prefer to have company but also need it in order to thrive, it killed me to see Zero alone all day.

After lots of nagging dignified persistence on my part, my roommate agreed to introduce another fish into Zero’s life and offered to buy one from a pet store. ❌ERR.❌ No one should ever support the pet trade—an industry built on commodifying, exploiting, and abusing animals, including fish. No bueno.

I told him that we could adopt one instead and that I’d look into the process and get back to him. As it turns out, though, I had no idea how to go about it. Through a bit of research, I found the following PETA-approved options for adopting a fish, along with some helpful tips:

1. Look on Petfinder.com.

This is a website that allows you to adopt animal companions. Click on the “Find Other Pets” tab and select “Scales, Fins, & Other.” There weren’t any fish up for adoption in my area, but it’s usually a good place to start.

2. Look on Craigslist.

PETA does not condone selling or giving away ANY animal on Craigslist. You don’t know what kind of people they could end up with, and we’ve seen horrific, sickening things done to animals who were obtained via the site. But adopting an animal found on Craigslist is another thing. These animals need homes, and if you’re able to provide loving care for an unwanted one, we don’t see any problem with that.

Note: Since Craigslist is so unregulated, you’ll definitely want to have your new companion(s) assessed by a veterinarian right away. (And that’s especially true for cats and dogs.)

3. Call your local animal control office.

Every once in a while, fish are surrendered to animal control officers. You can always check with them or ask to have your name put on an adoption list in case they ever get a goldfish.

4. Ask around.

Someone you know might have a goldfish they don’t want anymore. Maybe their kids won the fish at a carnival and their family doesn’t feel like caring for the animal anymore now that the novelty has worn off. (Using fish as carnival prizes is a cruel practice that PETA is working to end.) It never hurts to post on Facebook to see who pops out of the woodwork.

And when you do find that goldfish to bring into your family, make sure you’ve done your research and know how to care for them properly. They’re not low-maintenance animals or “starter pets”—there’s really no such thing. Goldfish have specific requirements, including proper water temperatures, optimal feeding schedules, environmental stimulation, and so much more.

A well decorated fish tank that looks like an OK place for fish to live

As for Zero, we found him a buddy through a friend of ours (who happened to have a goldfish she couldn’t care for any longer), and the two are getting along really well. Zero seems much happier knowing that he has a best friend for the rest of his life! 🤗

Order Your FREE Vegan Starter Kit

Send Me a Vegan Starter Kit