The RSPCA is appealing for information about a callous owner who fly-tipped four live fish in a tank with just half an inch of filthy water outside shops on a city estate.
The three goldfish and one Black Moor fish were found in a "lethargic" state by a member of the public in Yearlstone Square on Ashland.
They were discovered at 8.30am close to the Citident Dental Centre.
The large tank, which would have been heavy to lift, contained gravel, stones and some fish food dumped on the ground.
.RSPCA Animal Collection Officer (ACO) Samantha Harris is now investigating how the fish came to be abandoned.
She said: “At first the passerby who spotted them thought it was an empty tank. There is always fly-tipping under that particular archway from bits of furniture to bags of rubbish, but it was only on closer inspection that they realised there were four fish inside half an inch of dirty water. The poor fish were very lethargic."
Samantha added: “It’s a fairly large tank and would have been quite heavy with the water and gravel inside so I’m hoping someone must have spotted this being dumped"
The RSPCA is warning that owning a fish aquarium is also a big responsibility as fish have very specific needs.
Samantha said: “Unfortunately, people often assume that fish are easy pets to care for but looking after them and providing for their needs can actually be quite complex. Fish can’t show their feelings as clearly as mammals can and meeting their complex biological, environmental and behavioural needs takes lots of preparation, and any owner will need to invest plenty of time and care.
“A common misconception, particularly with goldfish, is that they live for no more than five years and reach about 12cm in length. In actual fact, this fish which is typically seen as a child’s first pet can live up to 25 years and reach over 40cm - so they are a big commitment."
She added: “There is never an excuse to abandon an animal in this way and these fish were lucky that they were found by a kind member of the public when they were.”
The fish are now being cared for by the RSPCA Milton Keynes and North Buckinghamshire branch in a foster home.
Anybody who saw the fish being dumped should contact the RSPCA inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.