Update:
It’s important to note that not all fairs treat their fish improperly. A lot of them provide large tanks full of cool oxygenated water. Some even provide winners with a ticket to be redeemed when they decide to head home. This keeps the fish from being trapped in a small plastic bag for an excessive amount of time.

What is the Game

The goldfish game is a carnival game where you try to throw a coin or ping pong ball into a small bowl. In these bowls live cramped fish. If you land the ball or coin into one of the bowls, you win that fish inside. A living creature kept in this way often lives a miserable life which also tends to be a short one.

Carnival Games, Rides  and Fun
Carnival Goldfish Game

A Bad Reputation

Many animal organizations and goldfish lovers have declared this game to be cruel and unusual punishment for the poor little fish. Some fairs and carnivals have discontinued the game and allegedly, some states have even banned the game. Considering a goldfish needs an abundant amount of well circulated and well oxygenated water, plus a 10-20 gallon tank to live and thrive, it’s no surprise a lot of people are against this game.

However, the game is still a popular carnival game at fairs today. People who disapprove shouldn’t blame the parents and they certainly can’t blame the children who want to win a new pet; I mean, who doesn’t want to win a goldfish? Parents might at first be hesitant to let their children try to win one but then figure it’s a good lesson in responsibility. They think, how hard can it be to take care of? Unfortunately proper goldfish care is not as easy as they might think.

Advice for Winners

You can blame this way of thinking on the iconic image of a goldfish in a small round bowl. This bowls is small and looks very manageable but in reality, it can be a death trap if a water change is not performed daily.

All is not lost though, with some care advice for beginners and little bit of knowledge, will give it more than a fighting chance. If a new pet owner is willing to do what ever it takes to care for it, it can live for five to ten years and grow up to 12 inches (30cm).

Won a Goldfish at a Fair

How to Care for a Fair Goldfish

This beginners guide covers the basics on proper care. It’s a guide for anyone who just bought their first goldfish from a pet store, for the lucky winner who won one at a carnival or for those caught off guard by receiving one as a gift. Additional tips for first time owners can be found in the Beginner Goldfish Bowl section of this site. For novice goldfish owners seeking more advanced goldfish care tips, please see the articles posted in the Pond and Aquarium sections.

Good Bacteria

Ideally, before bringing any fish home, it’s recommended to first setup an aquarium and let it run for a few weeks. This allows the tank to cycle and avoid what is called new tank syndrome. By running filters for several weeks prior to introducing your new pet, it allows sufficient time for important beneficial bacteria to become established. This bacteria converts harmful ammonia produced by your fish into nitrates which are less harmful. If this bacteria is not present, the fish can get ammonia poisoning and die. Those that don’t have this luxury, beneficial bacteria can be purchased at most pet stores.

Ammonia Levels

It’s important to frequently test the tank water to check for elevated ammonia levels and to check the pH levels. On that same note, the water should be free of chlorine and chloramine. It’s vital to use a water dechlorinator to remove these contaminants. An aquarium with clean water with optimal parameters is the best way to prevent fish from getting sick or dying. There are inexpensive test kits available at most pet stores or online.

How to take care of a fair goldfish

Water Changes

Routine tank maintenance is another great way to prevent them from getting sick. When a test kit show the water parameters are off, it usually means an aquarium water change is in order. It could also mean it’s time to clean an aquarium.

Feeding Time

Feeding the appropriate amount of food will cut down on cleaning. By only feeding small meals, 3-5 flakes per goldfish, it ensure all the food is eaten which cuts down on the rotting material and fish waste. Overfeeding can be a cause for concern. It can lead to problems with the digestive tract and even worse, it can kill a goldfish. Constipation often is a direct result of overfeeding. In extreme cases of overfeeding, a goldfish will gorge until it’s insides bursts.

20 comments on “Care for a Fair Goldfish
  1. Abby says:

    Yeah I won a few goldfish at a fair a few days ago but the fish werent in the bowls we shot them in. I didnt even know that the prizes were goldfish! I thought it would be stuffed animals! I was so surprised when I was handed golfish! So the fair I went to gladly was not cruel to the fish at all.

  2. Meaghan says:

    At the fair by me, the fish are in a big tank in the middle, not the tiny bowls. I am happy that they are not in a death trap!!!!!!

  3. Linda camou says:

    I got two new babies at the fair today mr. Marvin toe touch and mr.duardo fancy stash this web site is helping me a lot and I’d like to thank the person responsible for this site “)>{{

  4. bob says:

    i just got one from the fair last night they were in sepret tanks then the one you through them in and the tanks they were kept in were huge and not very crowde but i als wen i got home put it in a normal fish tank whith pump and live plants. he is doing great

  5. macaruso13 says:

    More so now a days, carnivals take great care of their goldfish – keeping them in large tanks with well oxygenated water and daily feedings. The operator bags up the fish in similar fashion to that of a pet store where the goldfish has limited time inside each bag. Many operators offer babysit tickets so the winner could still enjoy the carnival without worry of their goldfish dying before getting it home. Once the goldfish is taken home it is not the fault of the carnival that the new owner does not take proper care of it.

  6. ID says:

    I have 2 fair fish.I got my two first fair fish and then i got another one.The last one died….But now i ahve six , if i had not gone and got my fair fish ,i wouldn’t have my other fish.

    • admin says:

      Just make sure not to overstock your fish tank since too many will require you to clean your tank more often. If some should die, don’t replace them since this might be a sign of having too many goldfish in one tank. Buy an ammonia test kit to help you know when you need to change the water. good luck

  7. doobopper says:

    it isnt right to take care of a goldfish that way but u dont see websites like these anymore thats why people dont no how to take care of one and it isnt the fairs fault iether they just want more money there not thinking of fishie lives why should they care u say well its no there job to care about fish its not like they have fish police but u should still take care of them and not forget about them i meen u exspect people who live on the road working at fairs would care about goldfish and its not like im not against this but they shouldnt care i meen really the whole fair and people r going to spend 5-50 dolars on a goldfish and last but not least thney should banned it anywhere ansd every where the game sucks its a rip off and my fish i get nvr last that long

  8. lexa says:

    my fair gold fish has been alive for a year now and it is 5 inches long. he loves tetra tropical fish food and is excited with his new tank!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I won a goldfish at a fair today! They changed the game, though, so that the fish isn’t inside the bowl that you throw it in. I was glad they didn’t have them inside the bowl :)

    • admin says:

      You don’t have to boil the water but I don’t think it would hurt as long as you let the water cool all the way back down to room temperature. if you are trying to remove the chlorine, you might just want to get a dechlorinator to save yourself the time.

  10. Gen says:

    I won 2 fish at the fair and I gave them little round food things that the lady sold me and they refuse to eat them?I’m not sure what to do :|

    • admin says:

      Yeah, I’ve had problems getting my goldfish to eat pellets too. A fair goldfish is pretty small so they can’t eat large pellets or perhaps even small pellets. I would suggest getting some flake type food. it’s much easier for them to eat.

  11. voni says:

    i just won a gold fish and he seems to be staying at the very bottom of the bowl im not sure why is this normal?

    • admin says:

      I’m sure he just needs to get used to his new bowl. but you can always bus some test kits to see if the water is optimal. get the ammonia test kit for sure. A little bowl will get dirty fast and ammonia will build up quickly. Ammonia poisoning can kill a goldfish so make sure to change the water a few times a week. good luck :)

  12. jen says:

    my fiance just won me 3 gold fish that he won at the local school fair.,one which died because the ignorant girl who picked it up to put it in the zip lock bag broke its fin and squeezed it,so far the 2 other fish survived,we just got them tonight.i have a 1-3 gallon fish bowl with a fake corel plant.should i subsitute that for a real one?and do i need a filter for a round wide bowl?and how much will they cost?please email me,as i’ll probablly forget about this site.

    • admin says:

      I’m not sure how big your goldfish bowl is but with two goldfish in a bowl, you will need to change the water daily. I would replace the fake plant with live aquatic plants and a filter would be ideal. You should try to upgrade your goldfish bowl into at least a 5 to 10 gallon tank. Normally a fully grown goldfish will need about 10 gallons. Check on Craigslist for a used inexpensive tank. You can get reasonably priced aquarium filters at the pet store or cheaper through amazon.

  13. Claude says:

    yeah, I won one last night and the guy was very cruel to it. she’s now in a 1gal. tank (we can’t afford a bigger one) and has been fed flakes. I really want her to live a long time

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