Can You Really Adopt a Goldfish?

I recently looked into adopting a goldfish. My roommate has one named Zero, and we decided he needed a friend. Despite any rumors you may have heard to the contrary, goldfish are intelligent, sensitive, social animals. They can experience loneliness, boredom, excitement, and fear. 

Plus, they can remember faces and escape routes and can learn to play games like soccer and limbo. That whole “three-second memory” thing is just straight-up wrong. 

And because we know that goldfish not only much prefer to have company but also need it in order to thrive, it killed me to see Zero alone all day. 

After lots of nagging dignified persistence on my part, my roommate agreed to introduce another fish into Zero’s life and offered to buy one from a pet store. Nope. Not happening. No one should ever support the pet trade—an industry built on commodifying, exploiting, and abusing animals, including fish.  

I told him that we could adopt one instead and that I’d look into the process and get back to him. As it turns out, though, I had no idea how to go about it. But with a little bit of research, I found the following PETA-approved options for adopting a fish, along with some other helpful tips: 

  1. Look on is a website that helps with finding companion animals available for adoption. Click on the “Find Other Pets” tab, and select “Scales, Fins, & Other.” There weren’t any fish up for adoption in my area, but it’s usually a good place to start. 

  1. Look on Craigslist. 

PETA doesn’t condone selling or giving away any animal on Craigslist. You don’t know what kind of people they could end up with, and we’ve seen horrific, sickening things done to animals who were obtained via the site. But adopting an animal found on Craigslist is another thing. These animals need homes, and if you’re able to provide an unwanted one with loving care, we don’t see any problem with that. 

Note: Since Craigslist is so unregulated, you’ll definitely want to have your new companion(s) assessed by a veterinarian right away.  

  1. Call your local animal control office. 

Every once in a while, fish are surrendered to animal control shelters, and officers sometimes seize them in cruelty cases, especially ones involving hoarding. You can always check with them or ask to have your name put onto an adoption list in case they ever get a goldfish. 

  1. Ask around. 

Someone you know might have a goldfish they don’t want anymore. Maybe their kids won the fish at a carnival and their family doesn’t feel like caring for the animal anymore now that the novelty has worn off. (Giving away fish as carnival prizes is a cruel practice that PETA is working to end.) It never hurts to post on Facebook to see who comes out of the woodwork. 


When you do find one or more goldfish to bring into your family, make sure you’ve done your research and know how to care for them properly. They’re not low-maintenance animals or “starter pets”—there’s really no such thing. Goldfish have specific requirements, including proper water temperatures, optimal feeding schedules, environmental stimulation, and so much more

As for Zero, we found him a buddy through a friend of ours (who happened to have a goldfish she couldn’t care for any longer), and the two are getting along really well. Zero seems much happier now with a new bestie! 

Text peta2 to 30933 for ways to help animals, tips on compassionate living, and more!

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