Articles, Fish, Pet Care
Keeping fish as pets are now the third most popular pet after dogs and cats, with around 15% of pet owners now owning fish. Fish make truly wonderful pets for people who don’t have the time or space to devote to higher-maintenance companion animals.
Although there are hundreds of different types of fish that can be kept as pets, goldfish are the most common because they will live quite well in cold water, whereas tropical fish may need heated water, lights and a water filter.
Keeping fish as pets can also be a great starter to teach children the responsibilities of owning and caring for an animal.
10 reasons why keeping fish as pets is cool
- Fish can have a tranquil, calming effect on anyone who watches them. They are excellent stress-relievers.
- Fish are generally easier and less expensive to care for than many other pets. However they do demand a suitable environment and knowledge of their care requirements.
- Unlike many other pets, fish don’t suffer from separation anxiety or destructive behaviours when left alone at home.
- Fish are totally silent so you’ll never have to worry about your fish upsetting your neighbours.
- Fish come in thousands of colours, shapes and sizes so there’s bound to be one (or more) for you.
- Fish don’t need to be entertained or exercised and they don’t need a litter box, an outside enclosure or any special environmental needs apart from an aquarium.
- Fish are very clean pets that don’t need to be de-flead, groomed or have their claws cut.
- Fish won’t spoil your house with mud tracks or fur on your furniture.
- An aquarium swimming with coloured fish is a beautiful addition to any home.
- Some fish do interact with their owners and some can even be trained to do tricks.
Things to consider when keeping fish as pets
It’s critical when keeping fish as pets that you are able to provide the right environment for them to survive and thrive. Tropical freshwater fish, coldwater fish and tropical marine fish all have different needs so browse this simple checklist before you commit:
- How much space do you have for an aquarium? The space you can provide for an aquarium is a very important factor in determining what sort of fish you can safely keep. Different fish will grow to different sizes.
- How much do you have to spend? The cost of keeping fish as pets can be expensive, but it’s not buying the fish that makes it expensive, but setting up an aquarium with the right filters, heaters and plants, which can add up. Make sure you have a firm idea of your budget, and what fish you can afford, before you buy.
- How many fish should you have? Not all fish get along, with some larger fish seeing smaller fish as just a tasty meal. Before you buy your fish, research the size of the aquarium you’ll need for what combination of fish.
- What sort of water will suit your fish? Once again, research is essential if you want your fish to live happy, healthy lives. Managing water temperature and pH level can be critical, and can determine whether some of your fish will live or die. Fish are extremely sensitive to their environment, so research and knowledge is essential.
What equipment will I need?
The equipment required for keeping fish as pets may look quite daunting, but these really are the bare essentials to ensure your fish live long, happy and healthy lives.
Most pet stores will stock all you need for keeping fish as pets:
- Aquarium with a canopy and a light (usually sold as a set).
- At least 5cm of gravel, graded from front (min 2.5cm) to back (min 7cm).
- Water filter and filter media (usually sold as a set).
- Water heater and thermometer.
- Special rocks or ornaments for fish to hide amongst.
- Special food mixtures.
- “Cycling fluid” to set up essential bacteria in the water prior to the fish being put in.
- Water conditioning fluid to delete chlorine and chloramines from tap water.
- A fish net of appropriate size for your fish.
- A siphon and a hose to vacuum the gravel.
- A clean bucket with no traces of soap for water changes.
Maintaining a healthy environment (“Grooming”)
Don’t worry, you won’t need to “groom” your fish, but you will need to “groom” their environment on a regular basis.
When keeping fish as pets, every week you should:
- Siphon out some water using your siphon to pull up any debris that has accumulated at the bottom of the “slope” at the front of your aquarium.
- Change around 5-10 litres of aquarium water for fresh water. For larger tanks don’t change more than ¼ of the water at any one time.
- Make sure the water you add is similar in temperature to the water already in the aquarium.
- Make sure the water you add doesn’t have chlorine in it. If you suspect it does, add water conditioner and let it sit for 30 minutes before pouring into the tank.
- When adding water let it fall onto your hand or onto a clean bowl, then into the tank water, to stop the water flow from disturbing the gravel.
- Rinse or replace the filter media. The filter instructions will tell you how to clean your particular filter.
An aquarium in your home
A canopied aquarium shouldn’t present any problems in your home. However where an uncovered aquarium is used, care should be taken with airborne chemicals like insect sprays and air fresheners, which should never be used near your fish. Keeping fish as pets in uncovered aquariums can also present opportunities for adventure and sport for other pets such as cats, so it’s always wise to use a covered tank.
All pet owners have a responsibility to meet the 5 basic welfare needs of their pets. They are:
- The need for a suitable environment
- The need for a suitable diet
- The need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- The need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals as required
- The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
Keeping fish as pets, like all animals, depend on their owners for food, protection and shelter. So before buying any fish you should think carefully about all the things you will need to do to provide responsible care for your fish.
Further reading: Fish keeping from Wikipedia
Tags: aquarium equipment, aquariums, fish, fish tanks, fresh water, goldfish, keeping fish, keeping fish as pets, pet fish, popular pets, tank maintenance, tropical fish