Getting a Pet Fish

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen Claussen, DVM on July 16, 2023
3 min read

Fish are ideal pets for people who don’t have a lot of time or space for other common pets. Choosing and decorating aquariums for fish can also brighten up a home and be enjoyable for the whole family. Watching fish in an aquarium has been linked to improving stress. Pet fish come in many shapes, sizes, and colors so you’ll need to consider what type of fish you’re ready for. 

Before You Buy Pet Fish

When considering what type of fish you want, you’ll need to do some research on what will best fit into your lifestyle. Taking care of fish doesn't have to be a big commitment. In general, owning a pet has been linked to positive health benefits. Betta fish and common goldfish are the most popular types of fish. They’re also easy to take care of and don’t require a complicated aquarium set up. 

If you have kids, letting them pick out the aquarium decorations and designing the bowl can be a fun family activity. Your pet fish will need their tank cleaned occasionally and each time is an opportunity for your kids to decorate your fish's home. 

If you’re a beginner fish owner, a goldfish is the easiest fish to start with. However, even your goldfish requires more than a bowl and water. They need food, water conditioner, water clarifier, and decorations. Once you understand how to take care of them, you can upgrade your tank and start adding new fish to your collection. 

Choosing the right aquarium for your home and lifestyle will determine what kind of fish you bring home. Your aquarium will need to sit for at least 24 hours before being able to house fish. 

Once your aquarium is set up, you can talk to your fish breeder about what type of fish will live well in your tank. There will be some fish that live better together than others. When you start to add fish, you’ll need to gradually introduce them over the course of a month. Only add healthy, active fish to your tank and don’t crowd your aquarium. Adding a sick fish to your aquarium can infect the rest of your fish.

Your fish need the following to survive: 

  • A balanced diet
  • Clean water
  • Appropriate light
  • A proper filtration system
  • Water conditioner to balance pH levels

While fish are low maintenance, they do need supervision, especially if your child is taking care of them. You'll want to ensure their water is clean and that all of the fish look healthy. Owning pet fish can help your child learn the responsibilities that come with taking care of animals because they'll be feeding them twice a day.  

Ongoing Fish Care

Fish are great pets because they don’t need training, playtime, or grooming. There are certain types of fish that can be trained, like Koi, but this type of training is reserved for aquariums. If you really want to take your fish responsibility to the next level, you can train your goldfish to do tricks. It just takes a lot of patience and consistency. 

All your pet fish needs is a clean place to live and healthy roommates. Taking care of fish can be an easy, relaxing responsibility although they are not maintenance-free. You will have to keep up with their tank cleanings. Even if you have a filtration system set up in their aquarium, the tank will still need to be cleaned regularly. 

A sign that your water needs to be changed is cloudy, yellowish, or bad spelling water. If once you've cleaned the tank and replaced the water, your tank gets dirty quickly again, you may want to get your water tested at a local fish breeder. They can help you find any problems in your tank's ecosystem.

When replacing the water, don’t add straight tap water to your tank. Your fish could go into shock. Make sure you treat it with a water conditioner to balance the pH. You’ll also need to make sure the water is at the same temperature.

If for any reason, your pet fish no longer works for you or your family, you can rehome them. Don’t release pet fish into the wild as this is life-threatening to your fish and dangerous to the native wildlife. You also shouldn’t flush them down the toilet, as this isn’t a humane way to release your pet. Depending on the fish, they could have a decent lifespan. Make sure you're ready to commit to a pet before you get one.