Q&A Sunday: What about Goldfish?

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For improved wealth, is it better to have three, six, or nine goldfish? And where would you put the aquarium/bowl in your apartment/house?

Keith G., New York, NY

Hi Keith, 

Thanks for your great question! 

I remember reading my first feng shui book many years ago. It was a bit overwhelming, but one thing I got from it was that I should have a living goldfish somewhere! So, I purchased a black Betta fish (close enough, right?) and located the fish in the living room. Soon after, I went through a terrible break up with my then boyfriend and, coincidentally, the fish died at the same time. I clearly remember being really depressed at a party. I just met a new friend and was telling him about the fish, which in a way became a metaphor for the loss of my relationship. I also realized that, on some level, the fish took a hit for me. It was as if the fish helped to absorb the negative energy through this painful time in my life.

What does this have to do with improving your wealth? In feng shui, water is related to wealth and knowledge. Still water is depth of knowledge and moving water is your social network, and flow of money. First, consider what you need to improve to increase your wealth. If you need more cash flow, get an aquarium, which has moving water. If you need more knowledge, a fish bowl, which is still water, may be more appropriate. In both cases, be diligent about keeping the tank clean and change the water as required. 

For the location of your tank, this really depends on your floor plan. As a general rule, for wealth it may be beneficial to place the fish near the front door of your home, especially the Path in Life/Kan/Career area. If there is a water filter on it with any sort of waterfall, it’s best to position it so the water falls into and towards the central part of the home. This represents the cash flowing towards you. You can also place it in Abundance/Xun/Wealth area of the living room. My teacher, Steven Post, suggests locating the tank at eye level, so it’s easily accessible to view and touch.

Once you have your tank location, the question is “three, six, or nine” goldfish? Goldfish are auspicious because, in Asian mythology, they are related to dragons. There is a story of a goldfish, or carp, that transformed into a dragon. Dragons represent luck and power. In turn, goldfish are very conducive to success. As for the number of fish, it depends on how much room you have. If you have a small tank, stick with three fish. Three is a complete and stable number in feng shui. But, if you can handle a larger tank, go for nine. Nine is ideal, but you need a lot more room. Check with your local aquarium store to determine what size tank you will need for nine goldfish. It defeats the purpose to squeeze nine fish into a small tank where they will not thrive. You can also do eight orange goldfish with one black goldfish.

When looking for your fish, keep in mind what kind of goldfish you purchase. The “feeder” goldfish are inexpensive and have a short lifespan.  The fancy goldfish varieties are definitely more beautiful and more expensive. Consider what you can afford, and recognize that what you put into any feng shui adjustment, whether that be energy or money, will be commensurate to what you will receive. So if the feeder goldfish are what you can afford, please do the best that you can to keep them alive and treat them with great care. It is best to replace any fish that die immediately. Finally, my teachers have taught that you should replace any broken/damaged/dead object with another that is of better quality and typically more expensive.

by Anjie Cho

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Q&A Sunday: Goldfish for Feng Shui

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A few months ago I bought fish tank. I started with nine goldfish. Last week, three died, and I replaced them. After two more have died, one orange and one black, I now have four goldfish left. According to Vaastu/Feng Shui, are we supposed to keep nine goldfish and one black fish, or eight goldfish and one black fish? I was also told to keep my 37 gallon tank in the North corner of my house. Can I keep fewer fish or get an extra, smaller tank and put three fish in that tank to make total of nine?

Vana R., Brampton, Ont.

Hi Vana, 

Thank you for your question! Before we begin, it might be helpful for you to look at two of our previous answers, Question of the Month: What About Goldfish? and Q&A Sunday: A Feng Shui Aquarium. You may find useful information there as well.

In your specific situation, my intuition tells me the true issue isn't necessarily about how many goldfish you have or how big your tank is. Life isn't isn't always about following rules tightly or too loosely. In Buddhism and in feng shui, we have the concepts of being tight and loose. If you're too tight, you follow things too closely. If you're too loose, you don't follow closely enough. I am feeling that you are too tight.

Fortunately, you can take a lesson from the flow of the water in the aquarium and be a little looser in your life. It's good that these questions are coming up, because you're curious and dedicated to shifting things. But there is also a tightness coming across. I can be a very tight person too, but just like with the strings of an instrument, if they're too taut, the music isn't right. If they're too slack, the music isn't right either. It's about finding and feeling the balance.

One of the reasons one may want to use an aquarium in the home, at least in BTB feng shui, is to add more flexibility, flow and openness, like water. This is the feeling I'm getting from your question, so I encourage you to look at what is appropriate for you, rather than what the "rules" dictate. In an aquarium, the water is always circulating and moving. It's a metaphor for creating a flow and resisting getting stuck or creating solid rules.

Another thought, ask yourself why those fish died. Did they die because you weren't taking care of them, or was it an accident? Did they die randomly, or were they perhaps not high quality fish? I think it's important to really consider these factors.

The answers to that question will help with the next part, which is figuring out what's best for you and your lifestyle. What size aquarium works best for YOUR space? If you've worked with a Vaastu or feng shui practitioner, and they recommended keeping the tank in the North corner, go with what they advised. It is worth noting that 37 gallons is considered a medium size tank, so if it seems like it's a bit much for you to keep up with, you might want to try a smaller option. It may help to go back to your practitioner and ask why they made the original recommendation and if you can downsize. I can't really advise on this, since practitioners are all very different, but I recommend looking at whether this size is appropriate for you. Keeping fish in your space can be good feng shui, but if you can't maintain them, it could defeat the purpose. 

In your case, it seems that you actually want to try a smaller tank. You can definitely keep fewer than nine fish. In one of the previous questions about goldfish mentioned above, I do share that three is also a good number for fish, but I can't give you a solid answer here, because I feel it's something you need to challenge yourself with. Don't try to just follow the rules and be super tight; really look at what works best for you and add some looseness. Return to the practitioner you originally saw for advice. What was the reasoning behind their recommendations? I also suggest looking for a bit more openness, looseness and flow in your life. That could help you to find the answer you're looking for.

by Anjie Cho

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!

Q&A Sunday: A Feng Shui Aquarium

I read about your write-up about Goldfish and Feng Shui on the International Feng Shui Guild website. I have recently set up an aquarium and intend to keep goldfish to attach positive 'chi.' May I seek your advice? Instead of keeping 8 gold and 1 black, can I have 5 gold and 1 black?

Raymond S., Singapore

Hello to Singapore!

Thank you for your question. What’s interesting is that I asked my teacher, Steven Post, a similar one when I first started my feng shui studies. I had only room for a small aquarium, so I asked if I could use 3 fish total (rather than 9 total). 

The ideal set up is 9 goldfish total. It’s especially beneficial to have 8 gold and one black. 9 is an auspicious number in feng shui, as are the numbers 3 and 5.

I also asked if I might use other fish, rather than goldfish, since goldfish need a large amount of space!  But it’s better to use orange goldfish rather than, say, a tiger barb, because orange goldfish have special symbolism in Asian mythology. They can transform into dragons! Steven noted that the black goldfish is a “balance of the normative and exceptional.” Black also represents knowledge and wisdom.

To answer your question, if you don’t have room for 9 goldfish, it’s better to have 3 total with 2 gold and 1 black. Please let me know how it goes! Good luck to you!

For more information, read the previous article here.


Raymond sent in some photos of his new aquarium based on our Q&A Sunday! Thanks for sharing Raymond!

Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday" (formerly “Question of the Month”).  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers.  Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!