An aquarium shop in Tai Po has been criticized for selling goldfish tattooed with the Chinese words for “Get rich”, Sky Post reported Monday.
Netizens posted pictures of the tattooed fish on their Facebook accounts Sunday, days before the Lunar New Year begins Thursday.
Chinese traditionally wish each other prosperity in the coming year, and many buy or eat fish to symbolize a year of surplus (the Chinese word for which sounds like the word for fish).
But experts say tattooing fish can increase their risk of being infected by bacteria.
Dr. Jack Kwan, a biochemist at the University of Hong Kong, said after looking at the pictures that putting chemical pigments on fish could erode their skin and cause them suffer from skin diseases.
An employee at the aquarium told a Sky Post reporter the tattooed fish were imported from the mainland and the words were carved in its skin by laser beam.
The person claimed it will not kill fish and that the words will fade as the fish gets bigger.
Tattooed fish are sold for between HK$60 (US$7.73) and HK$80 each, while those without a tattoo are sold for HK$30 each.
The employee said such fish have been on the market in Hong Kong for years.
A manager at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said anyone who tattoos fish should be criticized, whether or not citizens file a complaint or veterinarians inspect the fish.
Chong Dee-hwa, president of the Ichthyological Society of Hong Kong, said chemical pigments might be carcinogenic.
A tattooed fish might be vulnerable to attacks from other fish in the same tank because of its peculiar look, Chong said.
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