Wednesday, August 15, 2007


One of the bumpier parts of my relationship with a non-vegan was trying to explain to him my opposition to 'pets'. Buying and selling animals is wrong; one should not be making a profit based on lives. I think it's arrogant of humans to do so, and too many people don't recognise that these animals are, in fact, lives. Especially when it comes to small animals like rodents and fish.

Andy is a marine biologist. He loves aquariums, scuba diving, and all things oceanic. Unlike some marine biologists, he is very uncomfortable with killing the things he's studying. He is especially opposed to killing fish for 'sport'. But he really, really wanted a fishtank. Just after we moved into our old house (probably in February) we found a 3 foot fishtank at a garage sale for $30. He got it.

I'm still very uncomfortable taking part in the buying and selling of live things. I don't like that our consumer dollar goes towards an industry like that. But, that being said, I freakin' love our fish. They aren't merely ornamental in our house--they all have names and personalities. Maybe it's because we don't have a tv, so we spend most evenings sitting on a beanbag in front of the fishtank watching the interactions. I like to think that we've given them as good a home as they'll get anywhere: lots of live plants and wood to swim around in, some friends to socialise with, that sort of thing.

So, that was a big intro. Now, fish move around a lot. They are really hard to take pictures of. But that doesn't stop Andy from trying...

This is Sam (with the pink belly) and Alex. They are blue rams. They were spawning that night, and they were the focus of Andy's photographic attempts. When we got them, they were too small to distinguish their sex, so we gave them uni-sex names. Turns out we had a pair.

Here's Alex again.
Sam's pink belly shows up quite well in this picture. So does their blue undertones. And the reflection of the camera and Andy's fingers.
This is Yang, our female guppy. We got her when we were watching a lot of Grey's Anatomy. She and Shark, one of the male guppies, are having babies soon.
So what are your opinions on living with animals like this? I think it's a different conversation altogether when referring to adoption of cats and dogs. But I know there are other vegans with fishtanks, and surely some with rodents. Have you ever thought about it before?


Amy said...

We've got two tanks (a tropical fish tank & a turtle tank with Africans) & I suppose it is a bit unethical to have companion animals, as they are only bred for our enjoyment. That being said, our animals look pretty darn happy & well fed.

Your animals look happy, and that seems to be the most important thing... :)

Celine said...

I agree with Amy. as long as the companion animals are treated well, respected, loved, and seem to be happy, I think it's all good. your fishies are beautiful!

bazu said...

I think of fish the same way I think of dogs and cats in shelters- they didn't ask to be put there, but now they need to be rescued. The tropical fish that are for sale in stores are lucky to have attentive and smart owners like you guys. Ultimately, yes, if it would be best if animals weren't sold. In your local case, I think it's perfectly ok.

Oh, I read your comment on my old post! I know it's not exactly what Marx meant by the term, but I wonder if it would fall under the term 'alienation'... You've inspired me to want to do more political posts!

VeggieGirl said...

My dog Kiwi is a member of my family, - my parents and I ultimately saved her life, which wouldn't have occurred if we didn't adopt her (if you read my VERY first blog post, you'll find out a little bit of why her life was in jeopardy). Although buying and selling animals like commodity is wrong in theory, at least if the animals are given the chance to live happy, healthy lives, it's a wonderful thing in the end. you're giving your fish that chance :0)

the pleasantly plump vegan said...

the tank is lovely. i can totally see yr point. since they are cared for really well and they aren't being eaten, i could justify having fish tanks.
i think bazu said it quite well, actually.

KleoPatra said...

Your fish tank is gorgeous. i have to admit to being enthralled and entertained by the ones i've seen and experienced at friends' houses, tho as a Pisces, part of me cringes...

i'm guessing that PeTA and other staunch activists would not approve for probably very good reason, but for whatever it's worth, i cannot disapprove.

i have been to aquariums like the amazing one in Monterey Bay, and i've ventured into fish "stores" and have issues with both HOWEVER there are some good points to them both, as well as to people having fish tanks.

As long as the swimming sweeties are well cared for and given an opportunity to live healthy, happy and hopefully long lives, the home aquarium seems to me for the best.

i applaud you for working well with your non-vegan other half! Andy has a job i'd love to have and i dig what you wrote about how he is and what his comfort zone is. That makes me happy...

Go Sam! Go Alex! Go Yang! Go Shark!

Veganista said...

I enjoyed reading about your fish and the way you appreciate them. :) It looks like they get the best of care. And they are gorgeous!

I basically agree with what others have said here about pets. The animal breeding business is pretty worrying, especially puppy mills and things like that. I think I'd always go the animal shelter route. Two of our cats came from the RSPCA and one just rocked up at our place looking very thin and bedraggled--smooging like you wouldn't believe.

Something I do think about more now that we've gone vegan is the fact that our cats still eat non-vegetarian cat food. I'd prefer not to buy these products, but don't want to compromise the kitties' health either, so I'll be thinking about this and doing a bit of research further down the line.

b36Kitchen said...

In my mind those fish are better off with you then with someone else who wouldn't take care of them as well as you guys would..especially with Andy being a marine biologist. I do understand being uncomfortable taking part in the buying and selling of living things which is what has kept me from setting up a small fish tank i've had since I was a kid. But the joy I use to have watching them swim around was so wonderful that I would just sit and watch them instead of turning on the TV which is something I would like to do less of.