Here is quote in book The Rights of Nature

"In the Netherlands, it is now illegal to keep a goldfish alone in a barren bowl. Countries such as Costa Rica have pledged to phase out zoos, circuses, rodeos, and other activities that exploit animals for human entertainment"

I want to know "barren bowl" meaning.

  • The usual expression in English would be "bare bowl" by analogy with "bare room" meaning without furnishings. "Fish in a bare bowl cannot conceal themselves from staring eyes outside the bowl or shelter from other fish within it. They cannot satisfy their natural instinct to search for food or to swim into crevices and explore. Monotony extends in every direction around them and all their lives they can only swim in circles." animalethics.org.uk/….
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 10 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


They mean something like this - the classic glass globe with a single fish in it, 'barren' of gravel, water plants etc. like you see in a proper aquarium.


It's just an adjective describing a noun.

Golfish, as pets, are normally placed in a tank or a bowl. The latter is less common these days as pet welfare is more important, and tanks are generally larger and can have things like oxygenation, filters etc. Nut goldish and ornamental carp (to which goldfish are related) were historically placed in bowls as ornaments, and this is so engrained in culture that the term 'goldfish bowl' might be used to describe any kind of environment they are placed in.

Tanks and bowls are normally given underwater plants to oxygenate the water and the fish to hide in, and ornaments for the fish to swim in and out of etc. The adjective "barren" can describe a landscape that is empty, and devoid of life or features. So a 'barren bowl' would be a bowl of water that doesn't have anything in it to enhance the fish's environment.

  • Thanks for your answer
    – leminh81
    Commented Jun 10 at 8:05

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