What is fair fish care?

This article will explain the basics of proper care. A guide for those lucky winners who have won a goldfish or betta fish at a fair or carnival, or who have been surprised to receive a goldfish or betta fish as a gift.


In this blog

  • What is fair fish care?
  • What is the lifespan of a fair fish?
  • How long do carnival fish stay in the bag?
  • How do you transfer a fair fish to a tank or a bowl?
  • How to keep a fair fish alive?
  • How to care for a betta fish won in a fair or a carnival?
  • How to care for a goldfish won in a fair or a carnival?
  • Fair fish diet
  • Why do fair fish die so rapidly?
  • Where do carnivals or fairs get their fish?
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions

What is fair fish care?

Winning a fish at a fair or a carnival can be an exciting experience. However, caring for your beautiful new fish is serious business. Caring for a fish you got from a fair or carnival is called fair fish care.

Your fish will need an appropriately sized tank, clean water, and proper nutrition to keep them healthy.Mostly goldfish and bettas are famous in fairs and carnivals,because of their beautiful colors and different patterns.

What is the lifespan of a fair fish?

The lifespan of any fair fish depends on the amount of care they are getting during the fair and after fair by their owners.Some tend to die in the fair itself due to several reasons,some die off after being won as a prize in the fair.

It totally depends on the environment they are living in.If they are living in a stress prone environment,overcrowded tanks and having bad quality food then they will die soon.It is very important to take care of fair fish properly.

The goldfish was the longest-lived fair fish.It was won in a carnival in Yorkshire, England in 1956 and lived up to 43 years.

How long do carnival fish stay in the bag?

A fair fish can thrive for about 2 days in a plastic bag with enough oxygen.It is important to note that there is insufficient oxygen in the regular atmospheric air inside the bag. 

Fish pet shops add pure oxygen to the bags to keep the fish alive and they don’t use atmospheric air.

How do you transfer a fair fish to a tank or a bowl?

The best way to transfer a new fair fish to its new tank is to leave the fish in the plastic bag filled with oxygen and water in which the carnival employee placed your new pet.

Simply place it directly in a bowl or tank and wait for the aquarium water temperatures to equalize.

How to keep a fair fish alive?

Regularly clean the gravel at the bottom of the aquarium, and every few weeks, put the fish in a cup or bowl when replacing the water, clean the aquarium with baking soda and rinse the aquarium thoroughly before setting up the aquarium again. Feed the fish once a day without overfeeding them.

How to care for a betta fish won in a fair or a carnival?

Bettas or siamese fighting fish are one of the most gorgeous freshwater fishes, in aquarium hobbies. Their vibrant colors and ornate finnage patterns are very noteworthy.

They are often chosen as prizes because they are easy to care for and have the ability to work well with very small amounts of water.

  • House your bettas in a minimum tank size of 3 gallons and additional tank size for each fully grown bettas is 1 gallons.
  • Ideal tank size for single male is five gallons and same for a single female betta too. 
  • Bettas or fighting fish won in the fair do well in bigger and spacious tanks and overcrowded tanks is one of the major reasons for bettas aggression.
  • Smaller or cramped tanks will reduce their lifespan.Already their lifespan is shorter and if they are kept in smaller and overcrowded tanks,the stress will kill them.
  • Filter type- Sponge and hang-on-back filters are really good for bettas,as they like slow water currents in their aquarium and these two filters just work according to bettas need.
  • Never over feed them,as they can get swim bladder disease or other digestive disorders.
  • Avoid keeping a male betta won in a fair with a male bettas,as they get aggressive towards each other and can fight each other to death,male can be kept in solitary tanks to avoid aggression.
  • Females are less aggressive than male bettas and can adjust in a community tank,but make sure to quarantine female bettas before adding them to a community tank.
  • They come from a fair,where they were kept in stressed conditions and they might get a lot of infections due to cramped bags and transportation stress.
  • It’s better to keep them separately in a separate tank for at least 2-3 weeks to avoid the spread of infections to other fish in the community tank.
  • Always quarantine live food before feeding them for some 2-3 weeks to avoid infections.

Water parameters for fair betta fish:

  • Water type-Freshwater 
  • Temperature – 75F-80F
  • Breeding temperature- 78F
  • Water pH- 6.8-7.5
  • Water hardness-3 to 4 dGH and 3 to 5 dKH
  • Water movement-Calmer water
  • Ammonia and nitrite should be 0ppm
  • Nitrate should be <20 ppm

How to care for a goldfish won in a fair or a carnival?

Goldfish has this reputation of being fragile and they die fast and are quite hard to keep,because most of the fishkeepers really dont know how to keep them.

They need a large aquarium,as they grow about 12 inches long.They need an efficient filtration system and aeration pumps in their aquarium.

They don’t need aquarium heaters,so fishkeepers should keep these things in mind and should care for them properly after winning them in a goldfish carnival fair or game.

  • Start a tank of 40 gallons for 2 goldfish.
  • One common goldfish which you won in the fair needs a 30 gallons tank and additional gallons for each goldfish would be 10 gallons.
  • Goldfish are social in nature so cant be kept alone,at least 2 goldfish should be kept together to avoid stress due to loneliness.
  • Pea-sized gravels are the best substrate for them.
  • Air pumps are very important ,as they generate lots of ammonia in their tank,so in order to avoid that,an air pump should be installed under the gravel to do the needful.
  • An efficient filtration system that filters the water at least 2-3 times an hour to remove all the impurities and toxins from their tanks.
  • Keeping goldfish in chlorinated tap water, bottled or distilled water, or water that is too acidic or alkaline can be fatal.
  • Tap water can be used to keep goldfish,nicely treated with water conditioner to remove all the chlorine and other impurities, making it suitable for goldfish to thrive.
  • They can survive in colder temperatures and don’t require an aquarium heater.
  • If the goldfish aquarium is not properly cycled then you need to change aquarium water very often.Otherwise,harmful ammonia and other organic pollutants build up in the aquarium, which can seriously damage the fish.
  • Accumulation of ammonia can lead to suffocation and death of the fish.Because goldfish produce so much biological waste.
  • Daily 50% water change is recommended and If you do not have a water testing test kit, it is recommended to change 50% daily for a week and 50% every other day for another 2-3 weeks. 
  • Always quarantine live food before feeding them for some 2-3 weeks to avoid infections.

Water parameters for fair goldfish:

  • Ammonia <0.1ppm.
  • Water type-Freshwater 
  • Nitrite <0.2ppm.
  • Nitrate <50ppm (<110ppm tolerance)
  • Water pH- 6.5-7.5 (tolerance range: 5.0-9.0)
  • Water hardness KH 70-140ppm and GH 150ppm.
  • Temperature 20-24°C (tolerance range: 8-30°C)
  • Breeding temperature
  • Water movement

Fair fish diet

Regular diet for a fair fish:

  • Beef heart
  • Tilapia
  • Shrimp
  • Earthworms
  • Other worms 
  • Lettuce 

Goldfish in the fair should be fed freeze-dried worms, brine shrimp, beef or seaweed,and sinking pellets.

Why do fair fish die so rapidly?

Fair fish can get ammonia poisoning from standing water, their own excreta, and the stress of being hyperactive in smaller aquariums. Stress and ammonia poisoning will limit their lung capacity and they will die off ultimately.

Where do carnivals or fairs get their fish?

Most fish are shipped from dealers to pet stores in small cramped bags and containers. About 90% of freshwater fish are bred in farms. For example, goldfish are usually bred in huge tubs in facilities that produce as many as 250 million fish annually.


Fish are like any other pet and should never be taken on as an impulse, such as winning it from a fairground stall,” said Dominic.

Fishes are vertebrates, which means that they are protected from cruelty to the same extent as other animals such as dogs and cats.

It is important to note that not all fairs mishandle fish. Many of them offer large tanks filled with cool oxygenated water. 

Some even offer the winner a ticket to redeem when they decide to go home. This prevents the fish from being trapped in a small plastic bag for too long.

Many animal groups and goldfish lovers have declared the game a cruel and unusual punishment for the poor little fish.

Some fairs and carnivals have stopped playing, and some states have reportedly banned them.

Frequently asked questions

What is the goldfish game in carnivals?

Goldfish game is a carnival game where you try to throw coins or ping pong balls into a small bowl. Cramped fish live in these bowls. If you happen to land a coin in one of those bowls then you win that fair fish which is kept in that bowl.Creatures kept in this way often lead miserable lives.

Is it illegal to win a fish at a fair?

Any fair or carnival must be approved by the local authority.