A goldfish has become a FOOT-LONG monster who angrily splashes water out of his tanks if he spots a cat or does not get fed.

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Switzerland even has companies which pair guinea pigs up with partners when the inevitable happens and one of the original couple dies.

Other social creatures like guinea pigs and budgerigars are also covered by this legislation.

Like some other popular aquarium fish, such as the guppy, goldfish and other carp are frequently added to stagnant bodies of water to reduce mosquito populations. They are used to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus, which relies on mosquitoes to migrate. However, introducing goldfish has often had negative consequences for local ecosystems.[34]

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A relatively small member of the carp family (which also includes the koi carp and the crucian carp), the goldfish is a domesticated version of a less-colourful carp (Carassius auratus) native to east Asia. It was first domesticated in China more than a thousand years ago, and several distinct breeds have since been developed. Goldfish breeds vary greatly in size, body shape, fin configuration and colouration (various combinations of white, yellow, orange, red, brown, and black are known).

"Once established, self-sustaining populations of alien freshwater fishes often thrive and can spread into new regions, which is having a fundamental ecological impact and are major drivers of the decline of aquatic fauna."

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If you've ever released a pet goldfish into the wild, you probably didn't expect it may get as big as a football.

Chinese tradition classifies goldfish into four main types.[18] These classifications are not commonly used in the West.

Goldfish can enter waterways when the contents of an aquarium is dumped, so the advice is not to empty tanks with live animals in them.

Starting in ancient China, various species of carp (collectively known as Asian carp) have been domesticated and reared as food fish for thousands of years. Some of these normally gray or silver species have a tendency to produce red, orange or yellow colour mutations; this was first recorded during the Jin dynasty (265–420).[3][4]

The mutation that gave rise to the domestic goldfish is also known from other cyprinid species, such as common carp and tench.

The Swiss government believes it is cruel to force them to live in isolation - but it doesn't just apply to fish.

Anne bought the duo from Pets at Home in June 2012 and had them in a small foot-long tank before getting a two foot fish tank she hoped would be big enough for the rest of their lives.

I know this for myself: I have shared my home office with a tank of goldfish for the past decade. My fish recognise me, swimming out from behind a rock to greet me; if anyone else comes up to the tank, they hide. They may not show affection like a dog or cat, but in their own fishy way, they have a certain charm.

Anne, 56, who lives in Scarborough, Yorkshire, said: "Bob seems to be still growing and I have no idea when he will stop. How big can a goldfish grow? I am going to have to get another new tank now as he is now too big for this one - despite it being about five feet long.

"Most people think goldfish are stupid, simple creatures with no personality but Bob is the complete opposite. He seems quite intelligent, he knows when his feeding time is and he knows what food he wants. He also has a bad temper when he doesn't get what he wants and often gets quite angry.

Within a week or so, the fry begins to assume its final shape, although a year may pass before they develop a mature goldfish colour; until then they are a metallic brown like their wild ancestors. In their first weeks of life, the fry grow quickly—an adaptation born of the high risk of getting devoured by the adult goldfish (or other fish and insects) in their environment.[29]

Goldfish are gregarious, displaying schooling behaviour, as well as displaying the same types of feeding behaviours. Goldfish may display similar behaviours when responding to their reflections in a mirror.[citation needed]

Her two cats, Smudge, five, and Cassie, seven, are also terrified of the beast.

Tish, the record-breaking goldfish from Thirsk, North Yorkshire, died in 1999 at the age of 43.

Goldfish may only grow to sexual maturity with enough water and the right nutrition. Most goldfish breed in captivity, particularly in pond settings. Breeding usually happens after a significant temperature change, often in spring. Males chase gravid female goldfish (females carrying eggs), and prompt them to release their eggs by bumping and nudging them.

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Goldfish like this can also harm water quality, introduce disease, disturb habitats and compete with native species, threatening their survival.

Mercury A mum claims she has to keep buying new tanks for her giant angry and violent goldfish

"On one occasion my son Anthony left a packet of Skittles on the side by the tank and Bob went crazy, dashing up and down, splashing water everywhere and even bashing his head into the glass. He does this whenever he sees something red now. He must think it's a rival - I have a violent goldfish."

"Then every Sunday he joins in my Sunday lunch. I had been told that garden peas were good for him but now he's been so spoilt he demands them every Sunday. I usually give him a handful but I have to feed him them one at a time, with Bob coming to the surface and grabbing them from my hand. He's a very lucky fish.”

But they could have been guilty of animal cruelty without even knowing it.

Goldfish

One thing's for sure, this will certainly make a few Brits feel guilty about their pet-owning habits.

The goldfish (Carassius auratus) is a freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae of order Cypriniformes. It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, and is one of the most commonly kept aquarium fish.

During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), goldfish also began to be raised indoors,[4] which permitted selection for mutations that would not be able to survive in ponds.[5] The first occurrence of fancy-tailed goldfish was recorded in the Ming Dynasty. In 1603, goldfish were introduced to Japan.[5] In 1611, goldfish were introduced to Portugal and from there to other parts of Europe.[5]

Although edible and closely related to some fairly widely eaten species, goldfish are rarely eaten. A fad among American college students for many years was swallowing goldfish as a stunt and as a fraternity initiation process. The first recorded instance was in 1939 at Harvard University.[41] The practice gradually fell out of popularity over the course of several decades and is rarely practiced today.

"The fact is they're known to live for up to 25 years and some can reach over 40cm (15.7in)," the charity says.

Goldfish might get a bad reputation of being boring pets - and having rubbish memories - but they're more clued up than we realise.

"Our research discovered the fish displayed a significant seasonal shift in habitats during breeding season, with one fish moving over 230km (142 miles) during the year," says Dr Stephen Beatty, from the Centre of Fish and Fisheries.

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This study should help with species control in the future, he adds.

Goldfish are beautiful creatures that cost very little to buy and maintain. Some people find watching fish extremely calming, and it is possible to build up a rapport with your pet - watch out for him swimming excitedly around the tank when he sees you coming!