Why these scaly creatures make great pets

By | May 14, 2019

With such a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, fish make great pets for both children and adults. Greencross Vets veterinarian Dr Aivee Huynh explains why they are an ideal first pet and how best to look after them.

“For children, fish are a fantastic way to teach them responsibility,” she said.

“Kids can even teach fish tricks such as swimming through hoops and some fish even enjoy pats and scratches.”

Certain species can even have quite unique personalities, Dr Huynh said.

“I once met an Oscar fish whose favourite movie was Titanic and he was completely fixated on the screen when it was on.”

These benefits extend to adults, and additionally there are studies which have shown watching fish can be therapeutic and a great stress reliever.

“Fish are not only a fantastic hobby, but they also make for a beautiful centrepiece in a home and are great conversation starters,” Dr Huynh said.

Where to begin

A great place to start is to talk to an aquatic veterinarian, Dr Huynh said.

“They will be able to recommend suitable fish for your situation, including if you want a low maintenance fish and which species co-habit well together.”

“They will also be able to provide advice on what aquarium is best for your fish and can tailor to your needs and preferences,” Dr Huynh said.

“Always consult your vet in regards to your aquarium to keep your fish, healthy and happy.”

How much will it cost?

The cost will vary depending on species and requirements, such as the tank size and quality, water quality testing kits, decor, food and so on.

A basic set up can start from around $ 50, while a more elaborate tank or pond with valuable fish can cost up to $ 1000.

Maintenance is low cost unless your fish gets sick and requires medical attention. “It is cheaper and better to treat the disease early than leave it to worsen,” Dr Huynh said.

“We recommend always seeking medical advice from a qualified veterinarian if your pet fish does become ill.

“Fish can feel pain, they may show it differently to humans, such as hiding, swimming slowly or erratically, eating less and not interacting with its school.”

Housing your fish

Tropical fish require warm water and heaters are needed to maintain temperatures of 24 to 30 degrees Celsius depending on species.

Goldfish usually do not require a warm tank, but it does depend on where you keep them, for example in colder climates, indoors or outdoors.

“The terms to know are tropical versus temperate and freshwater versus saltwater, Dr Huynh said.

“Saltwater fish are much more complicated to care for than freshwater. I would recommend only starting a saltwater tank if you’re a very experienced aquarist.”

Dr Huynh cautioned against undersized tanks.

“Although very popular for goldfish and betta, please do not place any fish species in tiny tanks,” she said.

“The minimalist appearance may be fashionable, but it is cruel to fish. The more elaborate the tank, the more stimulus your fish will have and generally a better quality.”

GREAT FIRST PET: Keeping fish is a fantastic way to teach children responsibility. Photo: Petbarn

GREAT FIRST PET: Keeping fish is a fantastic way to teach children responsibility. Photo: Petbarn

Tank maintenance

The level of maintenance involved will depend on the species.

However it is recommended that you make frequent and regular changes of around 10 to 20 per cent of the tank water weekly.

The most important thing is not to change 100 per cent of the water.

“I would recommend a biofilter, a living life support system full of good bacteria to keep your tank healthy,” Dr Huynh said.

Feeding your fish

You’ll also need to work out how much to feed your scaly friend.

“As a general rule of thumb a fish should be fed 1 per cent of its body weight and feeding intervals depend on your species and your lifestyle,” Dr Huynh said.

There are some fish that need to be fed daily, while others only every third day. Dr Huynh said the best thing to do was read up on your particular species.

How long will my fish live?

Fish can live to between one and 50 years of age.

“Some species are a lifetime commitment, such as koi which are sometimes passed to subsequent generations of the family,” Dr Huynh said.

Where can I find more information?

Dr Huynh recommended checking out The Fish Vet on YouTube, as it is “a fantastic resource with professional and accurate advice”.

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