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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Waiter, there's a fish in my cistern...
Cistern fish tank
The goldfish live in the restaurant's lavatories
Diners at a Devon restaurant are being greeted by live goldfish in the lavatories.

The fish swim about in see-through cisterns adapted from normal tanks.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says they probably suffer stress during flushing, but no physical harm.

Paul Da-Costa-Greaves, co-owner of The Galley in Topsham, near Exeter, said: "It's a fish restaurant by the water - I wanted to continue the nautical theme.

"People are just not expecting it and you see them coming back into the restaurant with a big smile on their face."

Chain reaction

The transformation was the work of Mr Da-Costa-Greaves' brother, who converts fish tanks for a hobby.

Six goldfish live in each of the cisterns, which have been dubbed Lutopia.

Lavatory seat
Lavatories at The Galley have a fishy theme
Critics say the fish become distressed when diners pull the chain and the water level drops.

But the restaurateur added: "I contacted the RSPCA to come and have a look at it.

"They were very surprised.

"But they monitored it for six months and passed it."

He said the tanks also complied with British Standards Institute specifications.

"We've had a brilliant response from customers," he added.

'Not illegal'

"Only one lady wasn't happy. She said the fish looked distressed.

"But I just said, 'They're a lot happier than that John Dory you've just eaten'."

RSPCA spokesman Janet Kipling said: "We disapprove of this but it's not illegal.

"We visited the restaurant a year ago when it opened, and there was nothing wrong with the fish.

"It's likely they do suffer stress, but as long as they are not physically harmed we can't do anything about it."

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