Fish make great pets, and getting pet fish for children will take careful selection. Keep in mind that although your children will learn responsibility and ownership from being the owner of a pet fish, not all types of fish are a good choice for kids.
Some breeds require greater maintenance than others. Knowing which is which is the first step in being able to provide your child with the perfect pet fish.
Aquariums to Consider
Before you make a purchase, you’ll want to take the fish housing into consideration.
Buy your tank (affiliate link) before you buy the fish so you can immediately place the fish in the aquarium. The tank size will also matter when determining the size of the fish. Measure the fish, since as a general rule of thumb, except with goldfish, there needs to be a gallon of water for every fish inch when it is fully grown (not at its size upon purchase).
No matter how many cartoons and movies feature bowls for fish, these are not suitable as they cannot be filtered or heated and can cause inhabitants to have problems with sight.
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Know What pH Your Fish Needs
Different fish need a variety of levels of pH for survival, and for most fish the pH needs to be between 6.4 and 7.8. Higher pH levels are for apistogrammas, rams, angelfish and discus.
There are chemicals to raise the level of the pH, and you can buy kits to test your water. When selecting pet fish for your children, select fish that won’t overgrow in the tank and will require low maintenance. After all, you are trying to teach kids responsibility but not something that is so extensive as to take too much of your child’s time.
In this light, keep in mind that tanks with saltwater fish are harder to maintain than tanks for freshwater fish and are not recommended for children. Buy affordable fish as pets as these won’t break the bank and are easy to replace.
Here’s an excellent PetSmart guide to setting up a freshwater aquarium:
Getting Pet Fish for Children
One common pet is goldfish as these are beautiful and inexpensive. However, some fish enthusiasts say goldfish grow too big to be appropriate for children (see reader comments below).
In general, freshwater fish such as goldfish are less expensive than saltwater fish. Also, finding hardy fish that are not too sensitive about their environment such as danios and barbs is a good idea. This will ensure a longer lifespan.
Ask the pet store which fish like being in schools and which ones are okay being by themselves. When you’re buying a fish that likes being in a school, purchase around five of them; some examples are barbs and neon tetras.
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Get Your Kids Involved
Getting your children involved by asking for their opinion every step of the way will help them learn about decision-making right from the onset.
If they are old enough, get them involved by asking them to select the fish food; the fish types; aquarium decor; where to put the aquarium; and the style, size and type of aquarium. Guiding them through the process with the knowledge you are equipped with will ensure successful pet selection.
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This featured contribution was written by Artchee Mendoza, a contributing writer for Fintastic. Photo by kztk/Flickr.