The Goldfish Bowl

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Goldfish Bowl's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Goldfish Bowl is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Partner Barry Allday
Behind this modest exterior is a huge selection
of tropical, marines and coldwater fish as well
invertebrates and corals
The Goldfish Bowl was established by Maxwell Gibbs in
the 1950s as an aquatic livestock wholesaler based in east
Oxford. They were the first to commercially import marine
fish from the Philippines, including the ribbon eel, a species that
had not been seen in the UK until then. In the 1970s, alongside
Max, Barry Allday, now a managing partner, made the transition
from wholesale to selling livestock to the public. Today, the
Goldfish Bowl are known as one of the premier aquatic livestock
specialists in the country, with a particular emphasis on ethical and
sustainable practices. Barry tells
The Parliamentary Review
We, rather uniquely, specialise in all areas of aquatics, with over 200 tropical
tanks, 100 marine tanks, 30 coldwater tanks and a whole room almost exclusively
dedicated to corals and marine invertebrates. We house everything from the ever-
popular guppies to saltwater species, including sharks, eels and lionfish, to name
a few. We carry one of the largest ranges of aquatic dry goods in the country. Our
strapline is “Everything for the fishkeeper” – an ethos that our business is built on.
Proficiency and dedication
We believe fishkeeping is all about keeping good water, which is why water quality
is at the heart of our shop’s culture. All the water in our systems is run through
cartridges, which take the most minute dirt particles out of the water, while
ultraviolet sterilisers kill free-swimming parasites and bacteria. We recirculate over
163,000 litres of water everyhour.
»Managing Partner: Barry Allday
»Founded in 1954
»Located in Oxford
»Services: Supporting the
aquatic hobby
»No. of employees: 10
»Awarded five stars (highest)
for animal welfare
The Goldfish Bowl
Highlighting best practice
We are also one of the few aquatic
shops that have their own quarantine
room. Ours has 100 tanks and is used
to rest fish before they are put up
for sale, as well as being a place to
treat individual fish, ensuring healthy
animals and good biosecurity. Our
commitment to good water quality
extends to our customers, and we offer
a free water-testing service as well as
free reverse-osmosis (pure) water.
All our staff are passionate and
knowledgeable about livestock and its
care – an attitude that we endeavour
to pass along to our customers.
We carry out regular maintenance
on our systems each week, which
encompasses gravel cleaning; grids and
wells maintenance, to ensure essential
water flow; and the cleaning and
checking of supporting equipment,
including filters, to make sure our fish
are in the best-possible condition for
our customers.
As part of our commitment to
sustainability, we work closely with
companies known for sourcing
livestock sustainably. The majority of
tropical and coldwater fish we import
are tank-bred in the Far East to ensure
wild supplies are kept at good levels.
Our marine fish are predominantly
sourced from Tropical Marine Centre,
a UK-based company that works with
short-chain and sustainable livestock
collection stations in 40 countries.
We work with TMC to support the
conservation of marine resources by
buying ethically caught fish as well as
supporting educational organisations
like LINI to promote sustainable use of
reef habitats. This also supports the
livelihoods of people in some of the
poorest parts of the world, reducing
the risk of them turning to more
environmentally damaging sources
Evolution and moving forward
Over the past ten years, we have
been innovating and updating our
systems to continue providing our
customers with the best products.
Leading the industry into an increase
in the popularity of planted aquariums,
we abandoned the traditional
waterfall plant system in favour of a
contemporary plant display that houses
60 different species of plants from
three different continents. Gone is the
old system, which added unhelpful
oxygen into the water, and in its
place are five tanks, each more than
three metres long. Carbon dioxide is
injected into the water to help with
Our purpose-built coral and
invertebrate room of 20 tanks is our
latest addition. It has the highest-
quality equipment, including calcium
reactors, fluidised sand beds,
ultraviolet sterilisers and protein
skimmers to ensure the corals’ success.
The LED lighting – vital for growth
– is state of the art, featuring three
different shades of blue and a UV
channel as well as cloud cover and
lightning, mimicking natural weather
cycles as much as possible. We have
also recently invested in LED lighting
throughout the shop.
The Goldfish Bowl was
the first in the UK to
import the majestic blue
and yellow ribbon eel
rhinomuraena quaesita
All our staff are
passionate and
about livestock
and its care
Being a longstanding occupant of
the vibrant east Oxford community,
we are surrounded by many schools
and welcome classes to visit the shop
to learn more about aquatic life.
We conduct school tours at regular
intervals and extend this educational
aspect to our customers as we guide
them through their fishkeeping
journey, with a keen focus on
A brighter, more ethical future
Like many other independent retailers,
the growth of the internet as a sales
platform has been challenging. With
lower running costs, online retailers are
able to offer lower prices. While this
is attractive to the customer, they are
not always supported after purchase.
Therefore, we find that they come
to us with issues with the products
they purchased online or for help
setting them up. Without our support,
some of these fishkeepers would
undoubtedly give up the hobby. We
strongly disagree with selling livestock
online, simply because the welfare of
livestock cannot always beguaranteed.
Another challenge to the industry is
the new legislation relating to pet-shop
licensing, which came into force in
2018. Although we welcome tighter
controls to ensure animal welfare is
paramount at all establishments, the
new regulations, in their current state,
focus on procedures and recording of
data, when time would be best spent
caring for the livestock – however, I
understand that this is currently under
review. We have an exemplary record
of care of livestock with our local
council, and we work alongside animal
welfare charities like the RSPCA to
rehome fish where necessary.
Looking towards the future, our aim
is to continue leading the way in the
fishkeeping industry. We are constantly
innovating, improving and adding to
our systems and equipment to provide
the highest level of care to our livestock.
We actively encourage education in
aquatics, both as a hobby and to ensure
sustainability of aquatic life across the
globe. Fishkeeping is our passion and
our hobby, and we will do our part to
help this industry to continue to thrive.
Over the past
ten years, we
have been
innovating and
updating our
systems to
providing our
customers with
the best
The fancy goldfish (
carassius auratus
) – in all its wonderful
forms – has been popular with fishkeepers for years
The stunning Siamese Fighting Fish (
betta splendens
is known for its beautiful colours and finnage

This article was sponsored by The Goldfish Bowl. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster