Kids Can Help Fish

Fish are wonderful animals. And they are smarter and have better memories than you might expect!

Fish can recognize each other in their shoal, and they keep an eye out to see which fish are friends with each other. They also use tools, build large nests and talk to one another, just like we talk to our friends. We use words, but they express themselves by using sounds like grunts, clicks and roars and by changing color. Wouldn't it be great if we could do that?!

Like birds, fish need their freedom. In nature, they swim around in oceans, rivers and lakes. To them, a fishbowl must feel like a prison. Fish are not happy or healthy living in fishbowls. If you have fish, it is very important to give them a large tank with lots of interesting things to do and real plants, rocks and toys. The tank or aquarium should have clean gravel on the bottom, a filter to keep the water clean and an air pump to make sure the water stays healthy. Fish should be fed once a day with food that is right for them. When you clean the tank out, be very careful not to change the water temperature.

If you keep fish in an outdoor pond, make sure that it's a large pond with plants. The water should be kept clean, so take out any leaves that fall in. The pond should be cleaned out once a year, and if the water freezes, the ice should be gently melted.

You can hurt fish just by touching them, so if you need to move them, use a net and be as gentle as possible.

Fish need friends, so experts think that it's best not to keep a fish alone. And remember that goldfish can live to be 25 years old - that's a big commitment!

Did you know that fish never close their eyes? Or that some fish hide their babies inside their mouths? It's true! At the first sign of danger, they open their mouths and let their babies swim inside! Fish have very sharp vision and can also smell, touch, feel and taste, just like us. Plus, they can sense light, chemicals, vibrations and electricity. Fish have taste buds on their lips, tongues and all over their mouths. Some fish have whiskers that can taste, too, so they can taste their food before it even reaches their mouths! How great is that?!

Because fish look so different from us, many people don't realize that they feel pain, too! Scientists tell us that being hooked hurts. Just like you can't breathe for very long under water, fish can't breathe when they're out of water. Even fish who are thrown back into the water often die from their injuries.

Some people think that angling is fun or that it's OK because fish taste good, but others say that it is wrong to hurt fish.

An angler might say …

"There are lots of reasons to go fishing: It's fun, it's good to be out in the fresh air, and it can be exciting."

"Fish don't feel pain. The hooks don't hurt them!"

"Angling helps keep rivers and riverbanks clean and tidy."

Someone who thinks fishing is wrong might say …

"There are lots of fun ways to spend time in nature without hurting fish: swimming, cycling, bird-watching, kite-flying, climbing trees or having a picnic."

"Scientists know that fish feel pain, just like people do. It's a fact!"

"Angling hurts other animals, too. Anglers often leave behind hooks or fishing line that can hurt birds and other animals who get caught in it."

Think About It

1. What do you think about angling?

2. What things can you do to enjoy the outdoors without hurting fish?

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