back to article Animal lovers stamp on goldfish racing

A bar in Washington state has been obliged to cancel its weekly goldfish racing event following complaints from less-than-impressed animal lovers. The Harmon Tap Room's goldfish racing. Pic from Facebook Every Tuesday night, the Harmon Tap Room in Tacoma filled two eight-foot long troughs with water, threw in some "10 cent …


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  1. Studley

    Tonight, the goldfish will sleep with the... well, you know...

    "We took care of them when they weren't racing."

    Am I the only one imagining that with a New Jersey accent?

    1. LuMan

      Yeah, but... you think they even made little cement slippers for their fins??

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Ah yes

      he sleeps with the fishies...

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Marky W


    What does this mean for my puppy drowning contest?

    (with apologies to the commenter on the linked news article)

  3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Seriously, what next?

    It's only a matter of time before people will be in trouble for swatting flies.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Seriously, what next?

      Yeah man. And then for killing *germs*, amirite?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Thanks for the sarcasm

        However, if you consider the level of sentience to be the reason for not causing paint to, or killing animals, I'm sure most people would agree that it is pretty unconscionable to harm a dog or cat. As far as I know, small fish don't have a great deal of sentience, or ability to feel pain, so are much closer on this scale to things like flies. My point is that there is a line that is drawn somewhere where we say, it's okay to kill that, but not that. The fact that it's a living being doesn't really cut it, otherwise we wouldn't eat plants. The fact that it's a member of teh animal kingdom also doesn't work, because then we'd never hurt flies and such, so where do you draw the line? In my mind it's pretty arbitrary, so I'll invite you to define it for me before mocking me, mmkay?

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Loyal Commentator

          Of course a fish can feel pain, what on earth would make you think they can't? This is the sort of urban myth that is trotted out along with "they've only got a memory of two seconds, you know."

          1. J 3

            @ @Loyal Commentator

            Yup, fish feel pain. They have the nerves and pathways we do, so no surprise. Of course we'll never know if their *subjective feeling* of pain is like ours, but then again I can't prove that *yours* is like mine, so there we go... I actually entertain the idea that the irrational animal's pain could in a way be felt *worse* than ours -- maybe, since we are able to understand the pain and its causes and better endure it, it would be less of a mental suffering than for creatures -- babies included -- who don't know what's going on and just want it to stop, but don't know if it will ever stop.

            I suspect this idea that fish don't feel pain is there partly so people who like fishing can rationalize and not feel guilty (well, the ones who actually care). Second possible reason is our old chauvinism, considering ourselves the pinnacle of the imaginary chain of beings -- fish are very different from us, so they can't have mental states, that's what people might subconsciously think -- could be true, but not necessarily, and it's just a conclusion based on prejudices (speciesism if you will) instead of data. I myself don't like fishing, boring as hell (at least the modalities I'd afford to do). I love eating a good fish, though.

        3. The BigYin


          "if you consider the level of sentience to be the reason for not causing paint to, or killing animals"

          Personally, that does not enter my head. IMHO a sentient being should not cause harm for the simple fact that a sentient being can CHOOSE to not cause harm. Be that to animal, plant or even a rock.

          Obviously we need to consume (food etc) and we have little choice in that, but everything else? That's a choice and in order to preserve our scarce resources and to reduce the impact on our own environment, we should choose to harm as little as possible.

          Doesn't mean I (or anyone else) is perfect and being perfect isn't even the point. Trying is. Heck, I still eat meat (just not a lot of it).

          This bar was just acting like a dick. Maybe they should have raced the owners, encouraging them it water cannon?

        4. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

          @Loyal Commenter (Thanks for the Sarcasm)

          This is an interesting debate. Here is my take.

          I for one believe that any destruction, and hence, any killing is wrong. It's not 'ok' just to kill something as you so bluntly put it.

          That doesn't mean however, one should absolutely not kill nor destroy.

          What I am saying is that any destructive act is by its very nature destructive and therefore should be thought through very carefully as far as possible. Remember it is far harder usually to create something than destroy it.

          Also, sometimes our ignorance blinds us from what are essentially destructive tendencies. We sometimes just do not think enough.

          I don't know the answers to these questions for *you* - only you can answer them. That's the TL;DR.

          Consider the following if you care enough.

          You kill a fly or vermin, that's wrong, in my books, but if it was done with the intention of preventing disease, the good probably outweighs the wrong. IMHO, you owe that very act of snuffing out a life some degree of contemplation.

          But what about the question of meat ? Shrug, someone's got to bring home the bacon. You eat bacon, you *should* live with the knowledge then that some pig has died, hopefully somewhat humanely and you have contributed in no small means to its demise, and you owe that act of yours some degree of contemplation. And some respect for the pig and the food you eat.

          Since this about goldfish... consider... you buy a goldfish, stick it in a goldfish bowl and it dies, that's wrong too. No? You didn't kill it? Oh yes you did. Probably because of ignorance in many cases more than neglect. It probably suffered. I know a goldfish has barely any long term memory but still... if you cared to contemplate you would have discovered that care for a goldfish is actually *quite* complex. You literally have to create a biosphere for it to live in. Chucking it in a bubble with tap water and sodium thiosulphate and food is ignorant.

          Is that ok? NO.

          I get quite galled at people buying pets where they have absolutely *NO IDEA* what to do with them or what they are actually getting themselves into. 3 year olds getting rabbits, this being Easter and all... that sort of stuff...


          Fighting a war? Supporting a government fighting a war? In some way, I would argue you're responsible for the destruction of your enemy and all that other 'collateral damage'. You have to ask yourself: Why? Is it justified here to take another human's life? Destroy their homes?

          Work for a tobacco company?

          The list goes on and on...

          Again... I don't know the answers to these questions for *you* - only you can answer them.

          Don't like what you hear? Go on, ignorance can be bliss. Why care about what you do?


          This is Lent. Easter. Passover.

          Even if the season has no meaning to you, you owe it to yourself to think.

        5. Mr Common Sense

          People have hard ons for their pets.

          I doubt it has anything to do with sentience than people becoming attached to certain species and over empathising with them.

      2. Aaron Em

        Honestly I think he's got the right of it

        I mean, this is PETA we're talking about. All the scurrilous slander against them in the world doesn't add up to their own serial self-satire.

  4. juice Bronze badge

    "10c feeder fish"

    I'm guessing that this means the fish were intended as live fodder for other, larger fish[*]. So all this campaign has accomplished is to have the fish die a painful death, as they're savaged by Pete the Piranha or Sid Snakehead...

    [*] I'm not sure if this is legal in the UK or not, but a lot of local aquariums have signs posted up saying that they will refuse to sell fish if they think they're going to be used for this purpose...

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Self-styled "Animal Lovers" turn me into Animal Lovers' hater.

    That is all.

    1. peyton?

      Piranhas et al

      Feeding fish to your pet piranha is life.

      Buying a piranha just to watch it eat live fish makes the owner a first class dickhead.

      There is a difference.

      1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

        Agrees with peyton

        Going out and actually killing or torturing other living beings just for fun is just wrong.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Re: Animal lovers

      I do believe you have never kept goldfish before (to any significant age).

      However, never attribute to malice etc...

      I am fortunately not American so I don't understand this PETA group probably as well as you do, they may well be a bunch of nutheads, but remember, just because a fool speaks a truth doesn't make in any less the truth.

      Goldfish should not be treated in this manner.

  6. Trokair 1


    "The goldfish derby is no more, but the bar is now punting "$5 for 2 Fish Tacos every Tuesday!!" ®"

    This is what I like to see. Crazy animal people won't let us race them? Then we'll EAT THEM instead.





    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      There is no problem with people eating fish, there is at least a legitimate reason to do so. Drunk people forcing fish down what appears to be a drain pipe with jets of water for "sport" is highly questionable and would certainly be very distressing to the fish. The person from the bar even noted that they "looked after them", but they still died every so-often. A properly looked after goldfish doesn't just die, they last for years, if they do just die it is due to stress, parasitic infection or illness.

      I'd say that these fish have been stressed to death by the sort of people that think they're just small so they don't really count as a proper animal.

      (I speak as someone who has kept fish for nearly 20 years and also really likes to eat them, admittedly though, not the ones that I keep.)

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Err...


  7. DrXym Silver badge

    Screw PETA

    They're insufferable morons who anthropomorphize animals, are grossly hypocritical (e.g. destroying most of the stray dogs they take in), and have well documented ties to terrorist organisations.

    If you want to advance animal welfare give money to a respected organisation such as the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, or similar. They actually spend donations on real world programs to better animal welfare rather than engaging in stupid publicity and scare mongering.

  8. Anonymous Freetard


    So basically PETA are the Westbro Baptists of the animal welfare movement?

  9. Aaron Em

    PETA: Because it's easier than actually taking a stand.

    Sorry, no, I don't take that granola-dipped self-promotion society particularly seriously. Twenty years ago they at least could be respected for showing the courage of their convictions, but now it's just the sort of thing from which decent people turn their faces away. (As do I.)

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Well they're certainly as obnoxious

      WBP and PETA are certainly as shouty as each other and have the same penchant for attention whoring.

    2. Code Monkey

      They might be dicks

      But that doesn't mean they're wrong.

      1. Aaron Em

        You're right!

        That they're dicks just means they're dicks. It's their long, detailed record of factual inaccuracies, outright falsehood, and sheer hypocrisy that means they're wrong.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          They may be wrong about some things, their lack of condemnation for using violence is very bad indeed. However, objecting to obvious mistreatment of animals is hardly wrong, particularly in this case where there isn't really and denying the wrongdoing or that a bunch of drunken idiots were getting pleasure from the mistreatment of animals.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    $5 for 2 Sea Kitten Tacos...

    ... surely? They're cute AND nutritious!

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Don't eat Goldfish

      If you eat Goldfish regularly then you'll not be long on this planet.

      Goldfish contain the chemical Thiaminase which destroys vitamin b1 in the animal that eats it.

      Eat enough and you're seriously ill!

      Goldfish are cheap in the USA. But in the UK it is illegal to feed live animals to another.

      This is because the majority of people in this country think it is cruel to put a live animal with no chance of escape.

      I find it odd that the nation that doesn't like the Japanese eating whales. Is quite easy about watching animals been eaten alive or tortured and even putting the videos of the act up on Youtube!

      I guess it's a cultural thing.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    sacre bleu!

    i hope this does not mean snail racing at the local "sports bar" is cancelled (it's france, we'll eat them after they race)

  12. Cian

    horses for courses

    How is this different* from horseracing?

    *morally different - I do realise the whole Surf vs Turf difference.

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      I was just about to say something about this...

      And greyhounds too...

      I don't know about horses but I know this about dogs, they like chasing things and enjoy it. So long as they are well treated and cared for, I probably wouldn't object.

      The problem is, I have heard stories on how some of these animals are treated. Do I believe them?

      I bear no illusions on the evil that man can perpetuate just to make a buck.

      1. DrXym Silver badge


        I think greyhounds really do enjoy racing. Problem is if you go to most dog's homes they're filled with greyhounds which have been abandoned either because they need too much exercise to be kept, are injured, too old or no good at racing.

        I think for that reason they should probably be regulated where you require a licence to race or own them (the licence being free if you adopt them from a dog's home). And the sport itself could help too by ensuring safe track conditions, animal chipping / DNA swabbing, death certificates, certificates of sale for tracking and proper regulation of owners including bans for life for owners of abandoned, mistreated or killed dogs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'm not especially comfortable with horse racing, but I would say that this is different for several reasons:

      1) The horses aren't 'encouraged' round the track by people shooting high pressure jets of water at them (there is the matter of the jockey's whip, but rules on that are being tightened up.

      2) The horses are looked after by treams of people, expert in their field, whereas these fish don't seem to have had even basic competency in their care.

      3) Horse racing has high animal welfare standards, with vets on site at each race.

      4) These fish are taken out of water and put into other water, presumably several times a day, this is highly distressing for them, nothing similar happens in horse racing.

      5) Horses are supposed to gallop, they do it for enjoyment, the only time a fish has to bolt away from something is as part of the fight/flight response, which induces a large amount of stress.

      I could probably go on, but that's a few pertinent points.

      1. skeptical i

        Also, there is the financial investment.

        Thoroughbred horses of real racing stock cost in the hundreds of thousands (millions, if the parents have impeccable track records) of dollars and such an investment will be treated with utmost care, whereas 10-cent feeder fish would almost be cheaper to replace than maintain.

        Greyhounds, for that matter, are considered similarly disposable and some are literally tossed in a dumpster when they are deemed "underperforming" -- fortunately, many greyhound "rescue leagues" offer other options for racing dogs the owners no longer wish to support.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    as a bar owner I can see the point of these "races" but to "encourage" the fish down a length of pipe with a squirt of water is just wrong....

    If they really want to have goldfish racing, why not have two tanks one at each end of the bar that is connected by a clear plastic pipe.... bet on which fish is the first to pass through the pipe...

    and its my idea... i am going to copyright and patent the tank designs and sell it off to the highest bidder and make my fortune !! if anyone even thinks of stealing my idea is going to feel the full force of my legal department...

    1. amanfromearth
      Jobs Halo

      Yes Steve

      We see you have invented iFish Racing

    2. Aaron Em

      No worries, mate

      People mostly only steal ideas worth implementing.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        no, people steal ideas that they can make money out of, no matter how ridiculous it may appear....

        get the marketing right and you can make money selling sand to the Arabs. Get the marketing right and you can sell fish-tanks to bar owners.

        The point being, the bar in the original story obviously make a bit of money out of the enterprise but they failed to take everything into account.... like the well-being of the fish for a start

        I have seen people exchange silly amounts of money and have to pay for rounds of beer over the silliest of things.... (including the gender of the next person to walk through the door in a particular coloured top!!) betting on fish through a tube is quite tame.

  14. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Jersey bar games are for wimps!.

    Worried about the fish being scared? The Thai version is so much more scarey for the punter. The hostesses make you sit on a chair, then put a pair of this little snakes down the front of your trousers, advisng you to sit still "or they may think you have a big snake in there and bite you!" They use harmless snakes, but they don't tell you that. The rest of the bar bets on which snake will come out which trouser leg first. Believe me, you will never sit so still in your life!

  15. jwb
    Big Brother

    Goldfish crime

    How about this game? You put the goldfish in a pool, then attach a squishy piece of food to a little hook with a barb on it, put the hook on a clear piece of line, and try to get the goldfish to bite the food. We could call the food "bait." If the goldfish bites the "bait", then you jerk on the line and impale its mouth on the hook, and pull it out of the water. The person who catches the most fish this way wins.

    Oh wait, goldfish are cute and furry and cuddly. Therefor this is obviously cruel and stressful to the goldfish.

    I will notify the cops of my thoughtcrime immediately.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: Goldfish crime

      Because goldfish don't taste good cooked, maybe. Of course, if you've BRED the fish in question for the fishing, and then you take the fish and eat it afterwards, then your argument sounds like just veggie moralising blather.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It's not a problem if you eat the fish.

    3. J 3

      @ Goldfish crime

      Cute I agree, but furry and cuddly must be sarcasm.

  16. gpoau


    Here in Oz we used to have mud crab racing every australia day in the local pub. You buy your muddie then the first one out of th 2m circle is the winner. And of course there was betting on each race and the best thing was at the end of the racing they cook up your muddie and serve it to you with all the trimmings. But you guessed right, it got banned!!

  17. Triggerfish

    @ Loyal Commantator

    Current research has the jury out on wether fish feel pain or not in the way we think of it. However its reasonable to assume they could feel at least some sort of stress from outside stimilus because tit tends to be linked with survval reflexes.

    The 3 second memory myth has been disproved as well, research says closer to about 5 months.

    BTW I think PETA generally are morons, but in this they have a point it just seems like cruelty for crueltys sake.

  18. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    What these sorts of bars need:

    1) Octogon or pit or cage

    2) Ref

    3) .....

    3) Medic!

  19. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    PETA is ridiculous

    "Current research has the jury out on wether fish feel pain or not in the way we think of it. However its reasonable to assume they could feel at least some sort of stress from outside stimilus because tit tends to be linked with survval reflexes."

    Sure they do, if you've seen videos of either fishing, or bears catching fish, you should see how they flop around.

    As for the race itself -- sorry, these are not firehoses or something (not a *high pressure water jet* as one person said), I think drunken peoples giving fish little squirts with water pistols is probably less stressful than a jockey kicking the horse to keep them going. PETA are ridiculous.

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