According to a study conducted by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), the principal trade organization for the UK pet food industry, 16 percent of pet owners now own fish. Cats are in the number two spot at 19 percent, and dogs remain the most popular companions with 23 percent of UK households owning a canine.
The reason for the increase in demand for fish, according to a representative of Tesco, a large UK retail chain, is that people have moved to smaller homes and rentals over the last few years, and it’s not always possible or practical to own a dog or cat.
According to PetfoodIndustry.com:
Fish demand has increased by 17% over the last three years, according to the PFMA, with 12 million pet fish living indoors and another 18 million currently living in garden ponds.
Fish make truly wonderful pets for people who don’t have the time or physical space to devote to a higher-maintenance companion animal.
And under the right circumstances, fish can also be good ‘starter pets’ to teach children the responsibility of caring for a pet.
Ten Reasons Fish Make Great Pets
- Fish are known to have a tranquil, calming effect on anyone who watches them glide serenely through the water.
- Generally speaking, fish are easier and less expensive to feed and care for than other pets, however, they do require a proper environment and knowledgeable caretakers.
- Unlike many dogs and other furry and feathered pets, fish don’t develop separation anxiety or destructive behaviors when you leave them alone at home.
- Fish are quiet -- you never have to worry about a barking or squawking fish upsetting the neighbors or waking a sleeping baby.
- Fish come in an infinite variety of sizes, shapes and stunning, vibrant colors.
- Fish don’t need to be walked; they don’t require a litter box; and they’ll never leave a surprise for you on your brand new carpet or the afghan your mother-in-law knitted for you last Christmas.
- Fish are very clean pets that don’t need to be groomed or have their teeth brushed.
- Your fish won’t track dirt and mud in from outdoors, or shake litter from his paws all over the house, and he doesn’t shed, slobber or drool.
- A fish aquarium of any size, as long it’s well maintained, can be a beautiful addition to any room in your home.
- Some types of fish interact with their owners, are playful, and can even be trained to do tricks.
If You’re Thinking of Getting Fish as Pets
The best advice I can offer, especially if you’ve never kept fish before, is to do plenty of research before you take the plunge.
I’d also recommend you start small, with a fish bowl or small aquarium and two or three hardy, low-maintenance varieties like goldfish. As your interest grows, you can upgrade to a bigger, more expensive or unusual aquarium and more exotic varieties of fish.
A few initial questions you’ll need to ask yourself:
- Are you interested in tropical freshwater fish, coldwater fish, or perhaps tropical marine fish? Believe it or not, there are more than 25,000 known species of fish and over 2,000 of these can potentially thrive in an aquarium. I recommend you only buy fish that have been bred in captivity, not taken from the ocean.
- What do you know about the fish you’re interested in? For example: how big will it get? If it’s a large fish, will it see smaller fish in the tank as prey? If it’s a small fish, will it become prey for larger fish? Will it eat live plants in your aquarium? What kind of water best suits it (temperature, hardness, pH, etc.)? Does it need to live with other fish or alone? What does it cost?
- Different types of fish require different aquarium environments. You should build your aquarium around the needs of your fish rather than on the aesthetics of the aquarium itself. Focusing on the needs of the fish you want to keep will insure they will be healthy and happy in their environment.
Every decision about the aquarium and all supplies, including food, should be made with the health of your particular fish species in mind.
- With that said, for practical reasons you’ll also need to consider what size aquarium you can afford and have the space for, and where you’ll set it up in your home. Aquariums aren’t just large fish bowls – even the most basic models come equipped with filtration systems, artificial lighting systems, often a heater or chiller, and some have hoods.
Fish can make wonderful pets and aquarium keeping provides a fascinating hobby for many fish enthusiasts.
As is the case with a dog, cat, exotic or pocket pet, preparation is priceless when it comes to committing to the care and guardianship of another living being.