10 Lessons for the Local Fair

1. Don’t let your child play the game where the prize is a live goldfish.

2. If you do let your kid play the game for the live goldfish, don’t tell her how to win.

3. If she wins but doesn’t realize that the prize was a live goldfish, WALK AWAY. FAST.

4. When she does finally realize that she’s won the live goldfish, be prepared to be utterly and completely dazzled by the light in her eyes and the joy on her face.

5. If she wins a goldfish, take her home before going to the pet store.

6. If you don’t do that, don’t walk up to the sales dude in the fish department of Petsmart and say, “So, how do we manage to not kill this fish?” Because now your kid realizes the fish could die.

7. If you’ve asked the fish dude about not killing the fish, don’t even look hopefully at the $5.99 fish bowl. Because the fish dude will tell you that the reason gold fish always die is because they are in tiny fish bowls, and they need at least ten gallons of water to live it successfully.

8. Breathe a slight sigh of relief that the stupid and ugly “Princess” fish tank is only two and half gallons and costs twice as much as the ten gallon tank.

9. Accept the fact that the tank will cost $40, with a filter and lights and stuff. Also accept the pink and purple plastic plants and weird pink thingy that your daughter will want to buy along with the ten pounds of rainbow colored pebbles for the bottom.

10. Try not to pass out when it all rings out at $80. Plus the dollar donation to the local animal shelter. Plus the $5 it cost for the game in the first place.

Meet Emily, the $85 goldfish and her beautiful new home (currently filtering in preparation for her big move).


Comments Closed


  1. Stacy says

    LOL. SOOOO true! This year I was like, sure, you can keep it, if you win one, which you never will, and then they won THREE! Maybe I’m weird (probably) but I’ve always been brutally honest with my kids about the fact that fish don’t live long and it will probably die soon. Then we can get another one! Goldfish are actually harder to take care of than your average fish because they are very dirty fish.

  2. Skylar says

    Yeah, I was going to say that my kids have had two Oranda goldfish (which get relatively large) in a plain 5-gallon aquarium for almost two years now, and even including the aquarium, filter, light, fish and fake plant it didn’t cost anywhere near $85!

  3. Kimmyann says

    Been there.. our fun fair carvival fish is now 2 years old. 4 inches longer than he was originally. He has outlived two other goldfish friends and now lives in a 29 gallon tank with 3 snails. The lady at petsmart recommended I find a pond for him to go live in since they keep growing or be prepared to have him for up to 10 years or more.

  4. Lisa C. says

    Been there! Although I let my daughter play because I knew there would be NO WAY for her to win the game (she was only three at the time). She didn’t win but they gave her the goldfish prize anyway! On the way home she crushed the poor thing while trying to examine it closely in the plastic bag. My hubby ran to get her a replacement telling her he had to take it with him to the store. He game back with a look-a-like, a huge tank plus pink gravel and assorted accessories. The fish (#2) died 3 weeks later. I sure hope Tori has better luck!

  5. says

    I’m a sucker for kids and animals. That’s how I’ve ended up with goldfish and snails that started in the school room. You have my sympathy.

  6. says

    I had two goldfish in a 5 gallon tank. One lived for 5 years and the other for 7 years, and they both got as long as my hand. Because their growth was limited by the size of their tank, Emily could get even bigger. And they actually lived very short lives for goldfish. If they’re well cared for, they can live 40 years. So yeah, fish are unexpectedly expensive. Sorry! Just remember Tori’s new-fishy glee.

    We have tropical fish now, but the care tips are the same. Water quality is everything. Remove and replace just 1/3 of the water every week, and add AquaSafe to the new water. You also might want some snails or a cleaner fish (like an otocinculus or a plecostomus) to help keep the tank from having algae buildup. And this is really gross, but when you change the filter, wipe some of the old filter’s goo onto the new filter before you put it in. There are bacteria in that nasty buildup that help filter ammonia out of the water.

  7. DD says

    It is amazing what an interactive pet a fish can be, with the help of a 5-6 year old’s imagination. We have a betta fish (our 2nd — and my daughter needed a 6 month gap after Roberta 1 passed away before she was ready for Roberta 2.)

    When I was a kid we had a whole series of school fair goldfish that lived for fairly short periods of time. The last of these (my youngest sister won when she was 11 or something) is actually still alive in a punchbowl at their house about 19 years later.)


  8. Myra says

    Man, I wish the best of luck! If he does die, try a Beta. They’re super cheap, breathe air and are quite content in a glass bowl. Mine lived for five years. Good luck, babe.

    • says

      On the contrary, Betta fish are not quite content, even if they seem to be by appearances alone, in a glass bowl. No fish should be kept in a glass bowl. It’s awesome that you had one that lived for five years, especially in a glass bowl. (I have a slight thing for Betta fish, heh.) :)

  9. says

    My daughters have had two goldfish that they won at the fair 4 years ago. They’ve lived in the $5 plastic tank this whole time! We believe it’s because we rarely clean the bowl that they’ve survived this long. lol

  10. says

    I just spent two hours cleaning our 40 gallon turtle tank that I procured from a friend of a friend for the turtle that our neighbor brought over in a shoebox two years ago. He has quadrupled in size, hence the need for the new tank. It was free but the filter system and basking platform and cleaning vacuum cost a small fortune. And I had to buy a lid because our kittens liked to bask on the platform and hang out with the turtle.

  11. NANCY says

    my niece won a gold fish at a fair years ago. dorothy lived in a $5 plastic bowl with rocks my parents kept from the 40 gallon tank they had when i was little. we fed dorothy and were all prepared for the fish to die in a week 5 years later she finally went belly up. good luck with your fish

  12. Holly says

    Never, ever buy one of those little turtles in the plastic bowl with the palm tree. That way lies madness.

  13. BabyKMama says

    Ahhh, this is how it started for my family when I was a kid – we ended up with two, Princes and Prince Charming. Those carnival/fair people must get kickbacks from the pet stores…

  14. Kim says

    Just as long as you didnt eat that goldfish which is what I thought at first glance after seeing the photo and reading the first few lines.

  15. says

    So cool! We have a tank like yours and I love it. Fresh water fish are hard to kill. We have a fancy goldfish in ours with a freshwater shark, a sucker fish, some other types I don’t remember, and a couple tiny fish my eldest scooped out of a lake at a park that I thought for sure were going to end up as fish food. Oh and by the way, last time I was in Petco they had Marvel comics fish tank stuff including awesome X-Men wallpaper. Just sayin’

  16. Hetty Fauxvert says

    LOL! An $85 goldfish is doubtless what we would end up with as well! But take heart; sometimes goldfish do live for years, even decades. In which case the $85 will amortize out pretty well. ;o)

    If Emily does go to the Big Bowl in the Sky, however, I second the nomination for a betta as a replacement. Now, mind you, you need to look around for a *healthy* betta. Often the ones in the stores look pretty sad and feeble. But a betta in good shape should last for several years, and really, they have tremendous personality, for a fish. All you need is a little mirror to hold up occasionally so the males can puff up at their own image and get all crazy for a minute or two! Pretty funny to watch. They are also really handsome, in various colors with flashy long tail fins. (Heh. Yeah, I like me some bettas! LOL!)

  17. Amy says

    I did that once :) Got a beta and a small bowl. Decided Beta looked sad, bought an aquarium and all the goodies. Then thought he looked lonely. Bought snails.. then frogs… then introduced guppies (they were fine together!) Then decided he needed a girl friend or two. That was a pretty darn expensive beta! He is a happy guy though :)

  18. Angela Lower says

    My daughters 20 dollar beta (with all the gunk) died a week ago. She hasn’t moved the tank, but also hasn’t asked for another one. Lucky me. I am holding out for guppies. LOL I LOVE fancy guppies. and their babies.

  19. Melissa says

    We had a 10cent goldfish that took over the 10 gallon tank, ate all the other fish…including Jake, the algae eater. That fish grew to fill 1/2 the tank. We donated him to the fish store when the tank developed a leak. There was a pond they kept the over sized fish in for display. He was happy.

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  21. Jameela says

    Yep, I came from GOMI but I have no idea who you are and I love that fish tank :D I want one now!