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Calgary Humane Society overflowing with surrendered fish


Staff at the Calgary Humane Society are caring for a variety of fish at the shelter. There are angelfish, koi, iridescent sharks and goldfish along with a few other species now living in three fresh water tanks.

"Some of these fish, they were in an apartment, in the tank," said Weston Jacques, the director of communications at the shelter. "The owner moved out and left the fish behind and so the landlord called us, we came and collected them and brought them here."

Jacques says there's been a lot of public interest in the fish since they arrived at the shelter. Some have already been adopted while others are still waiting for the right person to take them home.

"Like every adoption we require an appointment," he said. "You'll get an hour with one of our adoption counsellors, that's where you can ask all the questions because you can't just take the fish home and add water to a tank and throw it in.

"You really need to establish the tank well in advance," he added, "so most of these, I assume, will probably go to someone who already has an established tank at home."


The Humane Society is an open admission shelter and that means it will take in any animal that requires its help and that includes fish.

"A lot of people don't think that we get fish at the humane society," said Jacques. "This is a reminder to the community, we take in all types of animals, whether you're looking for a dog or a cat, we have a ton of hamsters right now and then like I said, these tanks for fish so, you know, consider the humane society if you're looking to add any type of animal to your home."

Detrick Macfarlane is the assistant manager of the fish and reptile department at Pisces Exotic Pet Emporium in northeast Calgary. He says fish can be a great hobby but it's important to do your research ahead of time because some fish can easily live for two decades while others can grow to over a metre long.

The Calgary Humane Society's Weston Jacques looks at some of the exotic fish surrendered to the shelter

"Just like any other animal, there's personalities and each individual fish will have its own quirks," he said. "Some more than others but you can definitely kind of gauge how happy they are just by watching the inhabitants of the fish tank."

Macfarlane said the iridescent sharks can get very large. They're a species of catfish common to rivers in south Asia.

"When they're small, they're maybe a couple of inches long," he said. "But they can get to 36 inches, sometimes even larger so because of that they need a 300 to 400 gallon tank."


Macfarlane said people can get started in the hobby for a few hundred dollars.

"You need the aquarium itself along with filtration, aeration, heating, lighting, that's kind of your basic setup along with like plants, ornaments, that kind of stuff," Macfarlane said. "Then there's siphons for water changes, there's conditioners and additives for the water depending on what kind of fish it is, there's weekly and monthly maintenance, there's daily feeding so it is it's a very good hobby to get into, but it is a constant amount of work."

He's glad to see these fish surrendered to the shelter rather than the alternative of just being released out into a local aquatic system.

"The last thing you want to do is release (exotic fish) out in the wild because a lot of these animals come from different areas of the world and can be potentially invasive within our natural ecosystems," Macfarlane said.

"Goldfish are definitely known as an invasive species, that's why Alberta does have it's 'Don't Let It Loose' campaign," he added, "so definitely always want to see people re-homing or surrendering rather than just trying to get rid of (pet fish) by throwing them in a local river or something like that."

Learn more about the fish up for adoption here: Top Stories

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