Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Painted Glassfish

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about aquarium keeping recently. My husband got me interested in the idea of keeping a saltwater tank with some clownfish, maybe even a reef set up. I’m not sure what I am going to do about that just yet, but I did find a few indiscretions in the aquatic pet industry.

In addition to the fact that there are several animals offered to aquarists that should be left in the sea, certain kinds of starfish as an example, there is one that is such a common practice that it astounded me. It was a friend who first let me onto it, when I told her of my interest in starting an aquarium.

She said to me, “Stay away from painted glass fish.”

I knew nothing about these fish, didn’t even know what she was talking about at the time. This is when I was informed, that painted glassfish are actually glassfish that have been injected or soaked in brightly colored ink. These fish nearly always die as a result of this treatment.

I found out some more information after learning this from my friend. Not only do they inject ink or soak these animals in dyes, but they also add an agent to the water these fish are in that destroys the slime coat on the fish.

Anyone who has learned anything about fish knows that a slime coat is sort of like our skin. It’s our first line of defense against bacterial infection. The same is true for the slime coat on fish. Fish need the slime coat to stay healthy, without it, they quickly catch diseases and have significantly decreased chances of recovery.

So, I decided I’d stay away from painted glassfish. Painted glassfish are just glassfish anyway. Glassfish are beautiful without the ink injected in their bodies and they’re much more healthy. I hope that you decide to stay away from them too.

I do have a brief story to share regarding these fish as well. I went to a local pet store, part of a national chain of stores. We were just looking around, investigating their fish and most of their fish seemed to be really well cared for. They even had saltwater tanks with some very healthy looking tangs in them. I figured I might get my first freshwater system there and then my husband pointed out a tank filled with neon colored glassfish in it, only they were called “Candy Tetras”.

We pulled “the fish guy” aside and asked him about it. He informed us that their store manager does not order the fish they get in, but that the corporate office of the company sends them what they want them to sell. He advised us to write to the corporate office and ask them to not stock these fish any longer. So I did. Guess what?

They never replied. I encourage everyone who reads this, to stop and fill out a complaint card to be sent to the corporate office of chain stores that carry painted glassfish. Eventually, if enough people complain, they will realize that people have gotten smart and realized that these fish are a total scam. They dye them so the fish will sell, and then when the fish dies, they hope that customers will come back for more of them and keep coming back for them.

If you can’t write the complaint or don’t feel comfortable doing so, there’s something else you can do. Don’t buy these fish. If there is no market for the fish, they’ll stop making money on them. If they stop making money on them, they’ll stop selling them.