Every day, brides around the world are planning the finer details of their big day, including the all-important centrepieces. Live fish centrepieces have been popular for more than a decade and, unfortunately, the trend continues to grow. The use of live animals as decoration is unethical, though, and fish are no exception.
Why are live fish centrepieces a bad thing?
Goldfish and bettas are fascinating and beautiful creatures, so their appeal is understandable. But they have particular needs, which small centrepiece displays can’t meet. A betta needs at least 20 L of water, heated to about 25.5ºC in order to thrive. Goldfish, on the otherhand, require at least 40 L, though more is better as they are active swimmers.
From transportation and being kept in cramped, unfavourable conditions to exposure to temperature variations, music vibrations and harassment from guests, being used as centrepieces is stressful for fish. People get excitable at weddings and, after a few drinks, they may disturb the fish’s container, pour drinks in the water and, in some instances, even eat the fish as a drunken bet.
Since goldfish and bettas are very sensitive to environmental changes, many become sick and die in the days or weeks following the event. Often many don’t even survive the whole wedding, which is not only unfair on the fish but also doesn’t make for an aesthetically pleasing table decoration.
After the wedding
You also need to consider that fish don’t just disappear once the wedding is over – they are a long-term commitment. The average lifespan for a betta is 3–5 years while a goldfish can live for 5–10 years, sometimes longer. Also, both need a suitable tank, filtration, lighting, regular water changes, and a varied diet. And those are only the most basic needs.
Even if you offer the fish as prizes, which many people do, the majority of your guests won’t want them. No one goes to a wedding with the intention of coming home with a pet. It’s a responsibility they didn’t ask for. So, the burden of housing and caring for all these fish, or the ones that survive at least, will fall on you. Can you really find a suitable home for so many fish?
Alternatives to live fish centrepieces
If you have your heart set on a more unique, aquatic-themed centrepiece, why not use plastic or blown glass fish instead? You achieve the same effect but forgo the suffering of a live animal. Alternatively, you could use marimo or other aquatic plants that are easy to care for and make great visual displays. Other options include filling fish bowls with seashell arrangements, floating candles or floating flowers.
Blog post by OneKind Planet writer, Stephanie Rose.