AN ANIMAL rights group has unleashed its campaign might on television station Five over the living conditions provided for goldfish that feature on one of its programmes.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said it had received several complaints about the size of a goldfish bowl on The Wright Stuff programme.
The group claims the fish – Brad and Jen – are housed in a "small bowl" with no place for them "to hide and explore".
The goldfish bowl has pride of place on presenter Matthew Wright's desk during the topical morning chat show.
Peta sent a letter to the makers of the programme demanding the fish are removed and placed in a new, larger home.
Bruce Friedrich, Peta's vice-president, wrote in the letter: "We have received a number of complaints about the live goldfish contained in a small bowl on the reporter's desk during The Wright Stuff.
"We are writing to ask you to please consider the following information and find these goldfish a more suitable permanent home in a large tank with places to hide and explore for stimulation." The letter continues: "Goldfish might be small and somewhat alien to us, but I'm certain you'll agree that they are worthy of care and respect.
"Goldfish have personalities and abilities that most people don't know about. For example, they have interesting ways of communicating with each other, forming bonds and grieving when family members or companions die."
The letter states that when goldfish are confined to small and toxic enclosures without proper filtration the fish are often poisoned by their own waste.
Mr Friedrich adds: "All too often, fish and other animals are considered nothing more than expendable commodities and their deaths are caused by inadequate handling and treatment.
"We urge you to make The Wright Stuff a more compassionate place for animals and viewers alike by removing the goldfish from the programme and finding the fish a permanent home with companions, lots of room for them to swim around, a working air tank to provide oxygen, a filter to remove waste and places for the fish to hide and explore."
The programme was at the centre of controversy two years ago when Mr Wright named former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie in connection with Ulrika Jonsson's rape allegation, live on air.
Mr Leslie was sacked from his job on This Morning after a series of women made allegations about his sexual behaviour and he was pictured in a newspaper snorting cocaine.
Leslie was later cleared of indecent assault and left court "without a stain on his character".
Tim Cunningham, series editor of The Wright Stuff responded: "We care a great deal for our goldfish Brad and Jen and our resident vet, Joe Inglis, will investigate this when he is in the studio next week.
"If he thinks the fish's welfare is in question, we will, of course, take appropriate action to remedy this."
Tips on how to care
GOLDFISH are an easy breed of fish to care for compared to complicated tropical species.
But although round bowls may look nice on the mantelpiece, the small open water surface area means there can be a shortage of oxygen in the water so it is best to choose a flat tank if you can't provide a garden pond.
Goldfish come in many varieties so it is important to make sure they can co-exist happily. For example, fast long-bodied types will gobble up all the food before slow round-bodied kinds can get to it. Only feed your fish with the amount of food they can eat in three minutes – three times a day for young, growing fish and once a day for older fish.
Water must be changed and the tank, including the gravel, cleaned regularly, so try to change 20 per cent of the water every two weeks. Maintain bacteria levels in your tank, as certain kinds are essential for dealing with fish waste.
Finally, keep an eye out for any changes in behaviour or appearance, such as white spots, as this may indicate an illness like contagious fish lice.