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"Live" fish sold in tanks

Miss Needle Feb 2, 2009 07:48 AM

I was in a Chinatown over the weekend and popped into a store to do some grocery shopping. I was at the seafood section when I saw these tanks full of live fish. I was shocked to see one tank where there were about six fish there with all fish having huge chunks of flesh missing from their body. A couple of them had significant portions of their skeleton exposed. All of the fish were alive (barely). WTF was that? Were the fish diseased? Or were they handled in such a way hunks of flesh were torn off?

  1. f
    fourunder Feb 2, 2009 07:50 AM

    Most likely, the fish were hungry and started to nibble at each other. The same happens to home aquarium fish when they are not fed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder
      Gio Feb 2, 2009 07:57 AM

      There's a local Asian market where I live (north of Boston) which also has large tanks holding large fish... carp. There are other tanks with each variety of fish in individual tanks, crowded for sure, but I've never seen what you described. There are smaller tanks which hold huge crabs. I can't bring myself to buy any fish in that store. But, the market must have passed some sort of inspection to be able to continue to keep and sell fish like that.

      1. re: fourunder
        xanadude Feb 2, 2009 08:40 AM

        It's probably stress, not hunger; fish don't like to be kept in such a small space with so many other fish.

      2. OCEllen Feb 2, 2009 07:53 AM

        I would report such a thing to the health dept.

        1. d
          DeppityDawg Feb 2, 2009 08:11 AM

          I doubt this is what happened to the fish in your grocery store, but it reminded me of this:
          *WARNING* not for sensitive viewers
          [I MEAN IT]


          4 Replies
          1. re: DeppityDawg
            nkeane Feb 2, 2009 08:54 AM

            totally. completely. AWESOME!!!

            Im not sure why that would make anyone skwemish?

            1. re: DeppityDawg
              Miss Needle Feb 2, 2009 09:33 AM

              I totally forgot about that video! The clip was pretty wild.

              1. re: DeppityDawg
                ktb615 Feb 3, 2009 06:16 AM

                That reminds me of a story in Jacques Pepin's autobiography about a time he went to Japan and was served a whole fish deep-fried up to the neck and when it came to the table it was still alive. Everyone eating with him freaked out and he had to cut the head off to put it out of whatever misery it may have been in.

                1. re: ktb615
                  DeppityDawg Feb 3, 2009 06:48 AM

                  I guess there is no JSPCA? Sometimes seems like they might have a Bizarro-world opposite society for coming up with creative ways to maximize cruelty towards animals. The edible ones, anyway.

              2. j
                JudiAU Feb 2, 2009 08:22 AM

                This the reason I don't generally buy fish from Chinatown. I've seen too many similar instances with fish that were clearly ill or mutilated.

                1. Miss Needle Feb 2, 2009 09:33 AM

                  Yikes! Whether it's cannibalism due to stress or hunger, it's a bit of a turn-off to me. While I'm not in a hurry to give up lobster or crabs at this point in my life, I don't think I'll be ordering live fish any time soon.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Miss Needle
                    PeterL Feb 2, 2009 01:06 PM

                    Fish usually start out alive, then somewhere along the line someone kills them and guts them and freezes them and sells them to you. Same thing happens to pork, beef, lamb, etc.

                    But if a store don't keep their live fish well, then of course I also would not buy fish from that store.

                    1. re: PeterL
                      Miss Needle Feb 2, 2009 01:43 PM

                      Of course I realize that all fish start out alive. However, I'd rather eat fish that died quicker (perhaps on the boat?) than one whose death was prolonged by keeping them cramped up in a small tank with no food. Now this is a personal decision and by no way I am saying that people who eat live fish at restaurants are barbarians. And I guess it's a bit hypocritical of me to say that I'll still be eating lobsters and crabs. Not that I eat this often, but perhaps I'll get them at Whole Foods instead (even though I find Whole Foods seafood not very good). And for some reason, I don't place things like clams in the same category -- maybe it's because they don't have a "face." But I don't find myself ordering fish anymore from a fish tank in Chinatown anymore.

                      I realize that some people don't care how an animal lives before they are slaughtered for food. But to me, it does matter. The meat I eat at home tends to not be factory-farmed meat. For example, I eat free-range chicken versus Perdue. I buy my beef from a small farm instead of getting it at my local supermarket. This rule is not 100%. I haven't found a good source of grass-fed/organic tripe. I buy my tripe at Chinatown. I've purchased Chinese sausage in Chinatown. And I'm not a stickler about this as when I go out to eat. I don't place any restrictions on my meat sourcing. I'll eat dim sum. I'll eat White Castles. I'll eat at French Laundry. This is a level that I feel comfortable with at the present moment. Who knows? Maybe I'll be a vegetarian in the future. Maybe I'll start eating McDonalds every day. You never know. We are always evolving and changing.

                  2. s
                    smartie Feb 2, 2009 02:23 PM

                    I would report the store to the SPCA. No animal deserves to live and die like that. That is downright cruelty.

                    1. g
                      gloriousfood Feb 2, 2009 03:32 PM

                      Oh, dear, this is awful. Please report it.

                      1. Miss Needle Feb 2, 2009 04:55 PM

                        All right. I reported the incident to the Department of Consumer Affairs. I don't think the ASPCA is quite the right authority as these animals are meant for consumption. Hopefully they will investigate and do something about it. Thanks to those urging me to report it.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Miss Needle
                          smartie Feb 2, 2009 05:42 PM

                          the ASPCA is the correct place to report this. They do not just deal with pets and livestock but all cruelty to animals. Please let them know and let them send an Inspector to the store. They can have the storekeepers banned from keeping animals if need be.

                          1. re: smartie
                            Miss Needle Feb 3, 2009 12:44 PM

                            Just wanted to report back and say that I did call up the ASPCA. But they told me that is not their jurisdiction.

                            1. re: Miss Needle
                              OCEllen Feb 3, 2009 01:09 PM

                              How about the health dept.?

                              1. re: Miss Needle
                                smartie Feb 3, 2009 01:47 PM

                                wow that is too sad. I know in the UK the RSPCA would be there in a heartbeat.

                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                  gloriousfood Feb 3, 2009 06:14 PM

                                  Thanks for all your efforts, MN.

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