Owning a pet is a big commitment and one that’s not always possible for busy households or for those in rental properties. Yet children can benefit so much from having a pet, so why not consider an aquarium of tropical fish?
Compared to other pets, fish won’t take up too much of your time. You won’t need to groom them, empty litter trays, take them for walks or clean up any ‘whoopsies’ on the carpet. All you (and hopefully your child) will need to remember is to feed them and occasionally clean the tank.
As fish are living creatures, your child will need to learn what they need to be content and healthy, such as type of food, water temperature and compatible species. This should provide them with a feeling of satisfaction and help with self-esteem. They’ll need observation skills to notice any changes that might indicate a fish is unwell. If you have other underwater creatures such as shrimp or snails, your child will be able to learn about how they breathe, eat and move through the water. You can help them investigate the varieties of fish to choose. If you’re lucky enough to have breeding fish, there’s the opportunity to explore reproduction and lifecycles. And some types of fish will interact and even be taught to do tricks.
An attractive aquarium of multi-coloured fish, with the sound of the pump bubbling in the background, can be extremely calming and almost mesmerising (which is why many doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries have tanks). If your child has become overtired or fractious, sitting them down to watch the swimming fish can have a soothing effect. It doesn’t do adults any harm either.
Apart from the initial set up costs, fish should be relatively inexpensive pets to keep. They require small amounts of food and the electricity needed to run the pump and heater is minimal. Even if you go away, provided you’ve changed the water, checked the equipment and fed the fish, they can be left for up to 14 days (although it’s prudent to have someone check on them every few days – just in case). Of course if you and your child get the fish-keeping bug, you may decide to add more exotic species or invest in a larger tank.
Whether you opt for cold water, tropical or marine fish, even the smallest of homes should be able to accommodate a modest tank, which can make an attractive addition to any room. As children will benefit from learning, interaction and being taught responsibility, a tropical aquarium is a worthwhile investment.