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PARIS, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) — Paris’s biggest aquarium has created a refuge for goldfish, providing a second life for any unwanted pets who might otherwise find themselves flushed down the toilet.

The Aquarium de Paris allows the city’s residents to drop off their fish, with the numbers using the service swelling around the time of the long summer holidays.

Instead of facing death in the city’s sewerage system, the rejected goldfish find themselves given a full medical check-up involving antibiotics and anti-parasite treatments.

After a month in quarantine, during which a minority succumb to the trauma caused by the change in location, they are then released into a giant tank where they go on display to the public.

“Some of them arrive very weak,” said Celine Bezault, who cares for the fish at the giant aquarium complex which is located opposite the Eiffel Tower.

Since it was created two years ago, the goldfish rescue service has been used by around 50 people a month and the tank now contains about 600 specimens, mostly the classic golden-red version, as well as striped and black ones.

Rather than spending all day banging into the glass of a small bowl, here the fish have space to swim and plenty of company, allowing them to socialise and move around in groups.

Some owners hand over their pets tearfully, motivated by concern for their fish, while others appear relieved to be rid of them and the routines of feeding and cleaning.


Once in the bigger tank, some of the fish undergo a remarkable transformation.

Being confined in a bowl stunts their growth, but the bigger space means some of them will expand to full adult size.

“They can reach up to 20-30 centimetres (8-12 inches),” Bezault said.

For Alexis Powilewicz, director of the Aquarium, the service is part of efforts to to promote awareness about animal welfare.