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Home > General > Interesting Historical Articles on Goldfish & Their Bowls

Interesting Historical Articles on Goldfish & Their Bowls

common goldfish inside the aquarium

The Great Goldfish Swallowing Craze of 1939 Never Really Ended

This interesting article highlights how a young man named Lothrop Withington Jr. started a trend of swallowing goldfish in 19391. Lothrop boasted to classmates that he had once eaten a live fish, which interested them enough to offer him $10 if he would do it again while they witnessed it. So, while surrounded by a group of peers at Harvard in March 1939, Lothrop lowered a 3-inch goldfish into his mouth, chewed it a couple of times, and swallowed it for all to see.

This incident caught the attention of media outlets such as the likes of Life magazine. The story of a freshman at Harvard eating a live goldfish went viral around the country, and before long, people in colleges everywhere started challenging each other to swallow goldfish. The fad is still around today, as evident in YouTube videos.

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The Evolutionary Origin and Domestication History of Goldfish

In this eye-opening article found on, readers can learn about more than 1,000 years of selective breeding and domestication practices of goldfish2. The authors of the article were able to explore two different subgenomes that developed during an ancient hybridization event. They identified the origins of goldfish and determined how wild goldfish became domesticated as time passed. They even identified a possible cause for the mutation called Mendelian inheritance that some goldfish have.

Notable topics in the article include that goldfish were selectively raised in ornamental ponds in China during the Tang Dynasty and that goldfish were revered as royal fish during the Song Dynasty. The article also touches on the diversity of goldfish and how such a selection came to fruition.

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goldfish in a fish tank
Image By: Chait Goli, Pexels

Victorian Goldfish Globes and Goldfish

Learning about goldfish and their bowls in the Victorian era is fun with the help of this unique article. It talks about a book published in 1898 by a man named Charles Nash Page, which suggests that children who spend time observing goldfish could learn more than if they were to spend days reading books. During this era, it was believed that watching goldfish swimming around in their bowls could also help invalids rest their minds and restore their health.

Goldfish globes (a.k.a. bowls) were all the rage in the mid-19th century when they were offered by street sellers and goldfish hawkers throughout London and England. The goldfish hawkers would go door to door with goldfish in globes to dazzle children and get their parents to purchase a fish and globe for them.

goldfish bowl with two goldfish
Image By: New Africa, Shutterstock

Origins of the First Pet Fish

If you are interested in the history of the pet goldfish, this article is for you. The piece goes into the fact that goldfish are descendants of the Prussian carp. It all started when carp started being bred in Ancient China. Over time, the carp’s scales changed color until they became the yellow-gold color that we know so well today. At the time, goldfish were not allowed to be kept as pets by the common person. Instead, they were kept only by royal families.



Goldfish have been around for quite a while, so we can paint a rich historical picture of this interesting water animal. There are plenty of tidbits to glean from the various articles covered here.

Featured Image Credit: JuanCarlosPalauDiaz, Shutterstock

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