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Trying to educate people at work


*Amanda*

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So I recently found out that several people I work with have kept fancy goldfish. This is pretty awesome to have people at work who share my interests. However, one of them said she was "shocked to learn you can only keep 3 in a 10 gallon!" and the other had 15 big fancies in a 29 gallon for three YEARS until they all mysteriously died one weekend. I took these opportunities to try to educate them on the real stocking requirements for optimum fish health. These people are huge animal lovers, so they are more open to anything that would make their pets more comfortable.

However, I went to my boyfriend's grandmother's home last weekend and saw a ranchu and a tiger barb in a 5 gallon tank that was filled up just halfway; most of the water had evaporated. The tank looked forgotten and like it hadn't been cleaned in 6 months or more. I was sad to see the fish like that, but his grandma speaks very little English (and I am still learning Spanish) so I didn't mention anything. My boyfriend grew up with her and kept his fancies in the exact same way until two years ago.

I was just curious, do you guys say anything when you see something like this? If so, how do you put it nicely? What do you tell people? I would really like to know because I don't want to come across as a know-it-all!

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I honestly just come out with it. If they aren't going to care for them properly after that, it is their choice. (Much to the sadness of myself on behalf of the fish) I even sometimes offer for them to come and see how I do it so as to make it look a little easier.

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There isn't a single solution. With colleagues of the same age in similar financial situations, one can just talk and explain. With Grandma, I would buy a 15 gallon tank and put a bow on it, offering to set it up for her.

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I agree with motherredcap. It sounds like a good solution, especially with the language barrier. I also think Chelsea's usual approach works with most people, but may come across as a bit harsh, especially to an older adult. My opinion is a neutral approach and, if he's willing, some of your boyfriend's help in showing her how to take care of them better and help them live longer.

Though what worries me is that there is a tiger barb and a goldfish living in such close space with each other, much less in the same tank. From my experience, tiger barbs can be very aggressive, almost as much as an oscar. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't tiger barbs require a heater?

Edited by NeonVodka
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Tiger barbs are very nippy and get about three inches. They also like to school, so I never recommend having just one or having just one in a 5 gallon tank. They need at least a 10-15 gallon for I'd say a school of 3-5 and maybe 2-3 smaller fish with them.

And yes, they are tropical and require a heater :)

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I agree with motherredcap. It sounds like a good solution, especially with the language barrier. I also think Chelsea's usual approach works with most people, but may come across as a bit harsh, especially to an older adult. My opinion is a neutral approach and, if he's willing, some of your boyfriend's help in showing her how to take care of them better and help them live longer.

Though what worries me is that there is a tiger barb and a goldfish living in such close space with each other, much less in the same tank. From my experience, tiger barbs can be very aggressive, almost as much as an oscar. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't tiger barbs require a heater?

That was another concern I had about saying anything to his grandma - I was worried she might take it as disrespectful or not fully understand why. My boyfriend speaks Spanish but is not 100% fluent, especially with detailed discussions. He was born and raised here and was taught only English as a child; he began to learn Spanish when he lived with his grandma as a teen. Buying her a tank is a great idea; I will look for an excuse to do that. Hopefully her birthday is coming up. She is a really sweet lady.

And no, the tank doesn't have a heater. The goldfish didn't have any injuries that would lead me to believe the tiger barb was picking on him, but then again the tiger barb looked pretty young and it could happen later. Plus, I am pretty sure she feeds either goldfish flakes or tropical flakes to both fish, which can't be good.

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Edited by *Amanda*
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Maybe if your bf is willing he could talk to his grandma about getting a bigger tank? He could approach it in a positive way by telling her about your tank and how much he's learned about goldfish from you, such as how much space they need. Then if she's willing the three of you could upgrade her tank and work together on water changes and such, at least at first. As a bonus it could be a fun bonding activity for you guys.

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I would bring some photos of my set up over and share them with her in a "hey, we share a common interest" sort of way. Maybe she'll ask about it. I don't think there is any other way to ensure 100% that you don't offend her. I love the idea of buying her a new tank as a gift, but she may wonder why. Then there's the maintenance issue...tough spot.

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There isn't a single solution. With colleagues of the same age in similar financial situations, one can just talk and explain. With Grandma, I would buy a 15 gallon tank and put a bow on it, offering to set it up for her.

I think motherredcap has a great solution. You can do this in a kind and respectful manner. Maybe you can find the $1 a gallon sale going on at Petco? Get her a $20g or even bigger. I don't know why she would take any offence at all. I believe she will simply think you are a kind person and want to get her a larger tank and she can enjoy learning from you and her grandson :)

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I think a 20 gal is the maximum I would get her. Many people don't like the idea of a big tank, they think it means more work. a 15 or 20 tall would take up about the same amount of space as a 10 gal while increasing gallonage for that fish. I would also worry that getting her too big of a tank might tempt her to get more fish and create a worse stocking problem.

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Well not many people know about the proportion of fish and tank. I used to think that it's normal to put 5 goldfish in a 20 gallon tank too :P

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perhaps grandma is over keeping fish? you should determine this first and perhaps it needs to be rescued? and then i guess that can be your queue to discuss proper husbandry (mildly) via your bf's help re the language barrier.. if it helps, show her a video of your happy goldfish swimming around so that she can see how active they can be in a proper environment :)

i have a container in my handbag.. when i go to people's homes and see a goldfish tank, i try to inconspicuously take a water sample to bring home for testing. if i see issues, i let them know on my next visit.

sometimes, people keep fish well in what we consider to be not so ideal situations. and because their fish are thriving, they will not take kindly to be told any different. best to see that the water is ideal and that should do. but for grandma, she may just be over keeping fish if you suspect that the tank has been neglected.

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perhaps grandma is over keeping fish? you should determine this first and perhaps it needs to be rescued? and then i guess that can be your queue to discuss proper husbandry (mildly) via your bf's help re the language barrier.. if it helps, show her a video of your happy goldfish swimming around so that she can see how active they can be in a proper environment :)

i have a container in my handbag.. when i go to people's homes and see a goldfish tank, i try to inconspicuously take a water sample to bring home for testing. if i see issues, i let them know on my next visit.

sometimes, people keep fish well in what we consider to be not so ideal situations. and because their fish are thriving, they will not take kindly to be told any different. best to see that the water is ideal and that should do. but for grandma, she may just be over keeping fish if you suspect that the tank has been neglected.

lol @ Helen the Water Test Ninja!! :rofl

There has been a good range of ideas raised about the situation with grandma's fish. I'm wondering about general strategies to approach people keeping goldfish in less than idea situations? I usually try to use "I" statements, as this tends to reduce the defensive reaction eg. "I don't like to have less than 75 litres per goldfish, because that way it's much easier to keep them healthy and thriving". But I'm also aware that this may come across like Amanda was fearing: with a sense-of-superiority.

How have other people approached these kinds of conversations?

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Amanda, have you told the folks at work about Koko's? They sound like they'd be interested.

Yes! I actually did a presentation a few weeks ago on goldfish keeping to a group of about 12 trainers and higher-ups in my department. We all did this as part of a training course and it was a lot of fun. At the end I went over resources and said Koko's was my #1 resource and that I am a member. Everyone responded very well to it, and an experienced tropical fish keeper in the audience even said he learned a few things. I can also mention it to the other people I talk to.

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