Stop Giving Live Goldfish as Carnival Prizes


Target: Richard and Carolyn Deshler, owners of Deshler Amusements, Inc.

Goal: Stop carnivals from giving goldfish and other live animals as booth prizes

Deshler Amusements, Inc. is a popular carnival company that provides its services to many states in northern America. Like most carnivals, Deshler Amusements offers live goldfish prizes for winning games of chance. Not only are plastic bags inadequate to house goldfish, but the people who “win” the fish are often ill-equipped and misinformed when it comes to handling these beautiful creatures.

Contrary to popular belief, goldfish don’t remain tiny forever. Though often depicted as living in fishbowls, goldfish can actually grow up to 10 inches in length, requiring a sizable tank to properly thrive. While some goldfish winners may be able to procure such a tank, they must also clean the tank regularly to prevent waste buildup. In addition, the water must be closely monitored for excess ammonia or nitrite, which is lethal to fish in high concentrations.

Such a large (and mostly unexpected) commitment often leads to goldfish dying due to improper maintenance. Sometimes, goldfish even leap from their tanks onto the ground in order to escape filthy water, which is the ultimate sign of owner neglect. Considering that most carnival fish are intended for young, inexperienced children, the likelihood of fish mortality becomes staggering.

A goldfish in captivity can live for over 10 years if sufficiently nurtured. Nonetheless, the familiar image of a child flushing his dead pet goldfish down the toilet has become a popular narrative in American culture. Sign the petition below to demand that fish and other live animal prizes be excluded from carnivals. Keeping these fish alive is more important than winning them in trivial games.


Dear Mr. and Mrs. Deshler,

Deshler Amusements, Inc. brings fun and entertainment to countless states across the country, but the live goldfish prizes you offer are inhumane and tragic. Since fish can easily asphyxiate in cramped living quarters, the plastic bags where they are typically stored are inadequate for their survival. Combined with the fact that most “winners” are unprepared for the tremendous responsibility of caring for these fish, it becomes quite evident that live prizes are exploitative and cruel.

Goldfish grow to great sizes, requiring ample tank space in order to survive. In addition, the water must be changed frequently to avoid the buildup of harmful wastes and chemicals. Though winners of your carnival games may be adults, the prizes are often won on behalf of inexperienced, young children who tend to be ill-equipped to maintain these fish.

The lifespan of these creatures are being cut extremely short by this practice, lasting only a few months when in fact they can live on for years. In light of this, I urge you to stop giving goldfish as carnival prizes. Please replace goldfish with inanimate rewards and allow these creatures to reach their full potential.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Michelle Jo via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. My first goldfish lived to be almost 12 years of age and reached a length of about 10 inches.
    I got her from the local Rag & Bone man who gave them to any kids who brought old clothes and scrap metal to his horse and cart as he went around the streets. That was in 1953.
    The cruel practice of giving goldfish as payment or prizes at fairgrounds and similar places was legally banned thankfully, here in Britain many years ago. America desperately needs to drag its self out of the “DARK AGES” and into the 21st century, in so many ways.

  2. paula eaton says:

    Goldfish are not things to give away, they are living sentient beings. How about giving away scratch off lottery tickets?

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