The Joys of Fish


My entire life I only had dogs as pets. My mom is allergic to cats and with how busy my family is, an exotic pet never came to mind. I have only ever known what a dog is like. Even with a wide range of pup personalities, they weren’t all that different.

My sister insisted she wanted a fish when she was in middle school. It never stuck, she wanted a dog more than some aquarian friends. I never understood her desire for a fish until freshman year. For biology class, we had to get a fish. I wasn’t planning on keeping her, but watching her became my favorite part of the day. Before the end of the week, I had set up and decorated a tank.

Tabitha, Tabby for short, was a red female betta. She was brilliant for a fish and watching her never failed to cheer me up. After a lot of research, I decided she needed a friend. One weekend, nearly 4 months after taking Tabby home, I got another fish.

They both died hours later. I was a novice in fish care and hadn’t checked the tank for ammonia. Seeing the fish that I had loved sink to the bottom of the tank and stop moving filled me with a dread I have not quite felt since. It felt terrible, knowing my amateur fish husbandry killed them.

It wasn’t all bad though. Within a week, I had two more fish. One died early, health problems stemming from being a $4 fish, but every little thing has taught me more.

I find it insane that people think fish are easy to take care of. With animals like dogs and cats, they will normally let you know if there is a problem. You can easily take them to a vet, or find an answer online to what ails them. For fish? You don’t know there’s a problem until they’re belly-up. 

I don’t think fish-keeping is for the faint of heart. Even the slightest unforeseen change can leave you with less fish than you started with. Even now the smallest issue strikes fear in my heart. But if you want a unique experience with a normal pet, taking good care of a fish is something you might want to try.