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Taking Inventory: Bucket of Fish

A singular delight

I like the word “fish”, and the reason I like it is because it’s both singular and plural at the same time. One fish. Some fish. That means that the name of our item of the week is ambiguous. It sounds like a bucket of fish (plural), but mechanically it’s more like a bucket of fish (singular). A bucket of a fish.

Fish (plural) have existed in Minecraft’s oceans since alpha version 1.2.0, when the concept of fishing was added – but for a long time, they were invisible until caught. That changed in the Update Aquatic, which added fish mobs that could be found in all the different types of ocean in the game. Buckets (plural) of fish (singular) were added at the same time.

Want a bucket of fish in your life? Me too. Step one is to get hold of a bucket – either by making one, or by stealing one from a friend’s chests. Step two is to fill it with water – I recommend a pond, river, or ocean for the task. Step three is to find a fish, which you’ll need to do in an ocean. Different fish live in different ocean biomes. Finally, step four is simply hitting the use key on a fish while holding a bucket. They (singular) will be picked up, along with the water source block that contains them.

At this point, a question may be starting to enter your mind. What does one do with a bucket of fish? Well, they’ll exist happily in the bucket pretty much forever, but it’s perhaps not so much fun for them. Really what you want to do is release them into a new habitat. That could be another part of the ocean, a pond or river, or even an aquarium in your base. Just hit the use bottom again and a water source block will be placed with the same fish you captured.

Redstone enthusiasts might want to know that a dispenser containing a bucket of fish will spawn the fish and the water block in front of it upon activation. Oh, and fish caught in buckets and then released won’t despawn – unlike fish that spawn naturally in oceans. So that’s worth considering too.

Finally, true fish collectors will note that tropical fish come in many shapes, colours, and sizes. 3,584 variants, to be precise – every combination of 15 colours, six patterns, and two shapes. Can you catch them all?

Buckets exist in the real world, and so do fish, so of course buckets of fish are a thing in reality too. They serve much the same purpose as they do in Minecraft – a way to transport a fish from one place to another.

But perhaps more interesting is the practice of keeping fish in a permanent tank for display, called an aquarium. The word was coined by English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, who built an aquarium in 1853 at London Zoo – sparking a craze for keeping fish in Victorian England.

Some claim that the Romans built aquariums after inventing the glass pane. But this is unlikely to be true, and there’s little evidence for it in historical documents. Instead, the first evidence of people keeping fish for pleasure (rather than just to eat) comes from 1369, when the Hongwu Emperor of China started a company that made large porcelain tubs for keeping goldfish.

Fish didn’t last long in these creations, because their gills take oxygen from the water and when the oxygen runs out the fish suffocate. It wasn’t until 1850, when English chemist Rovert Warington created an aquarium containing not just goldfish but eelgrass and snails too, that the first stable aquarium was made. The plants created oxygen, the fish consumed the oxygen, and the snails kept algae in check.

So if you want a realistic aquarium in your Minecraft home, remember to stock it with more than just fish. You’ll want to add some seagrass too, maybe some kelp, and perhaps even some coral. Remember: a diverse ecosystem is a healthy one.

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere

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