Fish can be a great low-maintenance pet for children. But giving fish a safe, healthy environment does require some planning. You’ll need to consider how many fish you want, what size aquarium you need and – perhaps most importantly – who will be responsible for cleaning the tank.
Following is what you need to know about making a habitat for your new fish:
Room to move
That tiny goldfish you’ve seen swimming around at the pet store may grow to over a foot long by adulthood. So when you’re choosing an aquarium, make sure it’s large enough to accommodate fish when they’re full-grown. Most pet stores sell starter kits that include everything you’ll need to set-up your aquarium. But your fish will appreciate some amenities, like hiding places. Untreated wood or large rocks can provide cozy hiding places for fish.
Choosing fish that can live together
Some fish are aggressive and should not share a tank with other fish. Male Betta fish should never be kept with other Bettas, although female Bettas can share a tank if they’re the only two occupants.
Many small fish travel in schools, so they’re used to living peacefully with others. Goldfish, barbs and tetras are good choices for a multi-fish environment. And if you don’t like cleaning the tank’s walls, invest in some plecostomus, which eats the algae and moss off the glass and helps keep up appearances in the tank. The plecostomus gets along with everyone and can grow to be over a foot long, so it’ll need plenty of room.
Addressing other environmental needs
Even if you choose a great mix of fish and provide ample hiding spaces in a large aquarium, you’ll need to monitor the tank’s water. For example, temperature is an important consideration that will affect the survival rates and vitality of your fish – make sure the temperature of the aquarium is consistently between 76 and 78 degrees.
Clean water is important, too, but changing the water too frequently can be bad for fish. You actually don’t need to change all of the tank water, or remove any items, although you should remove any debris that’s accumulated on items in the tank. You can switch-out about 10 to 15 percent of the water with dechlorinated, filtered water. Fish can – and should – stay in the tank during this process; removing them puts more stress on them.
If you put in the work to properly plan your aquarium, you should be able to handle the upkeep with relative ease. For homes with children, aquarium maintenance is a chore that teaches kids the value of cleanliness. Make caring for your fish a family effort. If you can successfully take care of an aquarium, you’ll feel more confident in your family’s ability to take-in other pets in the future.