Goldfish on Haft Seen, to be or not to be?

March 8, 2018

Goldfish in fish bowl is more than alternative on Haft Seen, an arrangement of seven symbolic items traditionally displayed during the Iranian New Year holidays, Noruz, starting March 21.

The Haft Seen is composed of seven items on the table which start with ‘S’ in Persian language. Although goldfish does not start with ‘S’ in Persian, it has always been considered as one of the elements of Noruz in Iran.

During recent years, some environmentalists ask people not to buy goldfish for their Haft Seen, which mostly die in fish bowls during Noruz holiday.

Some believe that goldfish is an item, which was imported from Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Spring Festival.

A popular Chinese New Year symbol is a child holding a large goldfish and a lotus flower, symbolizing abundance of gold and harmony. 

However, some believe that it is the symbol for Pisces also known as Fishes, which was relevant in traditional Persian calendar. Iranians put goldfishes in Haft-Seen to indicate that the New Year starts from this month.

The red color of the goldfish is one of the reasons for its presence on Haft Seen. The color of red, which is used in other items of Haft Seen, is a symbol of kindness, victory, livelihood and affluence.  

As it seems, goldfish cannot be omitted from Iranian Haft Seen. The best way is to teach people how to keep them and then free them in running water.

How to take care of a goldfish bowl?

According to, the iconic bubble shape of the standard goldfish bowl has been for years the go-to home for a new pet goldfish. It’s the image almost everyone associates with a first time fish owner. 

There are a few reasons for this connection. The first relates to a common misconception that people make by associating the small physical size of a goldfish bowl with it being easy to maintain. The other reason relates to the goldfish and the fact that most are rather inexpensive. This unfortunately makes it easy for people to not put a high value on the life of one. 

In the event it dies by improper care of an inexperienced owner, they can simply go purchase another one for less than a dollar.

Many pet goldfish do not live as long as they should. Goldfish have the potential to live for a decade or more not a year or even just months. The cause of this shorter lifespan is due to improper care. Two common mistakes include overfeeding and infrequent water changes.

  •  Minimum bowl size: warning

A basic rule on the amount of living space your goldfish needs to stay healthy is 20 gallons (75 liters) or so per every one adult fish. 

Realistically though, not everyone is going to have a 20 gallon goldfish bowl with just one fish in it? They can survive in a smaller size tank, but, it can stunt their growth and will shorten their life-span if you never upgrade to a larger living space as the fish grow. You need to upgrade when the get bigger! Additionally, a small bowl will require a lot more maintenance to keep the bowl clean and the goldfish healthy. Read about the nitrogen cycle or the next beginner post on Goldfish Bowl Water for more info on water quality.

  • Oxygen levels matter

The more goldfish you have in a tank, the more oxygen that is required to keep them healthy. Try adding an air pump to agitate the surface of the water. The air bubbles don’t actually add oxygen but the agitation of the surface will help.

The best solution on maximizing oxygen in the water is to follow the rule of the greater the amount of surfaces area, the more oxygen in the water. For this fact, choose a wide goldfish bowl over a tall narrow one.

If you have the classic bubble shaped goldfish bowl, don’t fill it to the top since filling it to the top doesn’t provide the most surface area. 

Understand that more surface area is better than more water when it comes to your goldfish’s health. If you fail to provide enough oxygen your pet can suffocate and die.

This is because goldfish in general produce a lot of ammonia waste. You can limit this by not overstocking, overfeeding or leaving waste to rot.

If are thinking about adding an algae eater, you will need to provide it space to live and grow too. You will also need to keep the water around 77F/25C, which is too warm for goldfish ideally prefer. For these reasons, don’t add an algae eater. It’s not necessary anyways.

To clean the water take out 50-75% of the goldfish bowl’s water and replace it with clean water that contains no chlorine. You can add a few drops from a de-chlorinator to remove any chlorine from the water.