How to constructively confront someone over improper fish care:

Evan Baldonado

By Evan Baldonado
(Founder of AquariumKids)

Fish in bowl on instagram

Most educated pet owners have noticed someone failing to properly care for an animal. There are many different ways to deal with such a situation, but these six simple steps are both a polite and effective way to confront others and [hopefully] get them to change their ways:

Step 1: Initiate friendly contact:

This is an important step because it helps ensure that the person whose animals you are trying to help stays receptive to criticism. Skip this step and you're just some person on the internet yelling at them. Get personal here—tell them your name and maybe a little bit about your fishkeeping experience.

Step 2: State the problem without blaming:

Tell the other person about what you think they're doing incorrectly. Are they keeping a goldfish in a bowl? Not using dechlorinator? Tell them now, but remember to do it nicely! Being aggressive can cause someone to become defensive and unresponsive to well-intentioned help.

Step 3: Provide a way to fix the problem:

What's the point in saying that there's something wrong if you don't offer a way to fix it? Give them a way to fix what you think they've done wrong.

Step 4: Justify why they should take action:

Now that they already know what's wrong and what they can do to fix it, here's your chance to impress upon them the importance of changing their ways. Will this change help their fish live longer? Will it keep them safer?

Step 5: Kindly offer extra help:

After finishing your advice, offer extra help. Direct the person to a place where they can find more information and/or offer to be of further assistance.

Step 6: End positively:

Congratulate them! Thank them! Find a way to end things on a positive note. This helps ensure that they don't see you as an enemy—only as someone trying to help them and someone who cares about them and their animals.


In order:

[step 1] Hello, goldfish lover here!
[step 2] I noticed that your goldfish are in bowls.
[step 3] Have you considered getting a larger tank for them?
[step 4] They would certainly appreciate some more room to move around in.
[step 5] I have a goldfish care sheet up on my website if you're interested.
[step 6] Congratulations on your first pets :)

Slightly out-of-order:

[step 1/2] Hi, my name's [] and noticed that you have your goldfish in bowls.
[step 1] When I was younger, I had goldfish in a bowl, too.
[step 3/4] I was devastated when they passed away and then I learned that goldfish will do much better if they have a bigger tank.
[step 5] I'd love to help you out, so feel free to message me if you have any questions or need any help with caring for your goldfish!
[step 6] Congratulations on becoming a pet owner :)


Thanks for reading about how to confront someone over improper fish care (published 7/8/16)! For more information, please browse around! Feel free to contact me at evanb [at] aquariumkids [dot] com with any questions.

What's your experience in correcting others? Let's start a discussion in the comments section below:

Evan Baldonado

By Evan Baldonado
(Founder of AquariumKids)

Image credits: