I was reading about the “Asian Carp Invasion”, and got curious about carps in the nineteenth-century. As Yi-Fu Tuan and discusses in great detail in Dominance and Affection (1984) (and I believe Kathleen Kete does as well, in The Beast in the Boudoir: Petkeeping in Nineteenth-Century Paris ), aquariums were one of the most popular forms of pet-keeping during this period. Tuan (as the title of his book suggests) focuses on dominance in the selection and breeding of goldfish, and Kete cites aquariums as part of her argument that the bourgeois kept pets in an expression of a desire to dreamscape the private sphere.
Here are some great images from Mark Samuel’s The Amateur Aquarist (New York: Baker Taylor, 1894) [thanks, googlebooks!]:
Unlike goldfish and the now highly-prized Japanese koi, “ugly” carp seem to have been more generally treated as dinner. (A search in Allrecipes.com turned up almost no carp recipes, but Tex Wasabi has a recipe that mimics the look of koi in a taco.)
(From The Cook’s Dictionary [London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830]).
(From French Domestic Cookery [London: Bogue, 1846]).