A Quick Note About Fish as Pets

I’m not in this hobby to make millions of dollars. I’m in it because I find the gentle churning of water and the graceful motions of fish relaxing. I’ve had fish in the family since I was a child; my most notable influence was my uncle. His cichlid tanks, saltwater reefs and sweeping scapes kept me mesmerized for hours when I would sleep over at his house. 

Call me sentimental, but those memories are still some of the brightest. I have so much respect for the care and devotion he had towards those tanks and their occupants. When a hurricane flooded his home and he lost it all, he was so grief stricken that he never got back into the hobby again. They weren’t just fish. They were his pets. And there is a big difference between the two. 

The Orchid Endler’s Livebearers I keep could very easily be housed in a small tank with no scenery or hidey holes to make breeding and selling them easier. But breeding and selling them isn’t my goal. It’s a nice little bonus of the hobby, don’t get me wrong, but the really rewarding part is coming home every day to see this little habitat thrive. I see my pets happy in their home. In fact, these pets are living in a relative mansion!

the Endler Oasis

Their home is a planted 36 gallon tank with dual filtration, shrimp and cory companions, and they are fed brine shrimp and flakes to spice up their diets. The water is kept at a tropical 77*F by using a heater. They have “forests” to hide in, open areas for swimming, and shaded areas in which to give birth. 

I have to remind myself that not everyone knows to give their pet fish ample room; I see pet store associates telling would-be fishkeepers that a Betta will be fine in a 1-gallon bowl. Or that a comet goldfish only needs a 5-gallon tank. More often than not, it is not malice that creates this misinformation. Merely a lack of fishkeeping education. Realistically, a Betta should be housed in a 10-gallon tank with filtration, heating and frequent water changes. A goldfish shouldn’t be kept in anything smaller than a 40-gallon tank since they grow so rapidly. The lack of space creates a multitude of problems: stunted growth, unstable water conditions, agressiveness, and shortened lifespans to name a few. 

So, where does the responsibility lie? With the fish-keepers? Or the sales associates? Or, both? Education goes a long way on both sides of the fence. And maybe when people learn what fish need to live happy lives, they’ll make a more educated decision on what pets to keep. 

So, my quick note is this: do your research before you buy your equipment and especially before you adopt your pet fish. Doing so will save you, and your new pet, a heartache later on. 

For those who are genuinely interested or are curious, here are my pets’ home tank and water specifications. 

  • 36 gallon bowfront Aqueon tank
  • 100 watt Aqueon heater
  • 2x Aquaclear 50 HOB filters
  • Pressurized CO2 system with Aquatek regulators
  • AquaticLife Dual T5HO Light Fixture
  • 3x TrueLumen 660nm LED lights
  • 2x TrueLumen 453nm LED lights
  • EcoComplete and Tahitian Moon Sand substrate
  • 77*F year-round
  • 7.2pH
  • 7* dKH
  • 24* dGH

Don’t be intimidated by this setup! We all start somewhere and we never stop learning. Least of all, when it comes to our pets.