Something’s fishy

Why are fish cared for less than other pets?

Picture this: you walk in to Petsmart and you see a betta fish, brightly-colored and small. The store employee tells you that all you need to buy is a small fishbowl and some food. Inexpensive and compact—perfect for your dorm. You pour some tap water in the bowl, plop the fish in and pour some fish food in. Boom, you have a fish. 

Now think about all the time and effort you would put into getting a dog. You would probably do research on a reputable breeder or shelter, buy food, treats, toys and a bed. You would take it to the vet, get its shots and make sure it’s healthy. You’ll probably dog-proof your house so it doesn’t get into anything that it shouldn’t. 

Why wouldn’t you do that for your fish? Why is a fish less deserving of proper care than a dog or a cat? I recently bought a betta fish on impulse while I was home for spring break. I named him Abe (short for Abraham Lincoln). When I got home with him, his food and a 1-gallon fishbowl, I started to do a little bit of research on betta care. What I found was that betta fish—and most other fish—require a lot of care. 

While pet stores will tell you that betta fish live in puddles, that’s not entirely true. They live in rice fields that can be chest deep. They can live up to seven years with proper care. 

To properly keep a betta, they need to be kept in a tank that is at the very least 2.5 gallons and they need a filter to keep their water clean. Bettas love to hide, so they need silk plants to hide in—not plastic, because plastic will rip their fins. Bettas are tropical fish. They need to be kept in water that is 75-8 degrees Fahrenheit, so that requires a heater and a thermometer for the tank. 

Furthermore, you cannot keep male and female betta fish together and you cannot keep males together. You can only keep females together and they need much more space. 

The point here is that if you want to get a fish, make sure you are prepared to take proper care of it. Abe now lives happily in his own 5-gallon tank with a heater and a filter. He relies on me. He deserves a good life just as much as any other pet. 

Don’t get a pet unless you can take care of it. Don’t get a fish because you think it’s easy. It’s not. I have to change his water constantly so he doesn’t get ammonia poisoning. I have to keep him warm and give him places to hide. I put a lot of effort into keeping him alive because I didn’t do the proper research before I got him. Do proper research before you purchase an animal of any kind.

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