Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Moving a fish tank on Shabbos


We have a portable fish tank, which we move around from time to time. May we move it on Shabbos?

Animals which have no function are muktzeh on Shabbos. [Halachic authorities note that service animals are a separate class.] A fish tank is considered a base for the fish, and so a fish tank is as muktzeh as the creatures it contains.

There is also a second halachic concern involved in handling animals, in that one may not ride on animals or otherwise make use of their bodies.

Many halachic authorities agree that the above two concerns are not relevant in the case of a fish tank. Fish are meant to be admired and portable tanks are normally moved, and so there is no concern for muktzeh. There certainly is no concern for "riding" a fish. Therefore, many authorities permit moving a portable tank. Rav Ovadia Yosef permits moving the tank only where the fish are in danger of pain or death, such as from cold or direct sunlight.

(Shabbos 128b; Beitzah 38b; Shut Or Zarua 81-82; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 308:39-40; Mishneh Berurah 308:146; Ketzos haShulchan 121:fn 4; Yabia Omer 5:Orach Chaim 26; Shemirat Shabbat k'Hilchatah 18:fn 62, 27:fn 96; Az Nidbiru 8:37:2)

Have a great day,

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