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The Pros & Cons of Owning Fish

Over the years, on two occasions I have kept fish and after looking through old phone pics of the fish I have kept I wanted to share the pros and cons of owning fish for those of you considering purchasing them.

I can appreciate that we live in a fast paced world and you will be wanting quick information, so here it is in bullet point format:

The Pros of Owning Fish

  • They are nice to look at and can be inspiring, especially if they are kept in a place that you see regularly – such as near your desk.
  • They can also be photogenic (depending on the species) and ‘perform’ for the camera – as my Beta fish regularly did.
  • Start up costs are relatively less expensive than other pets, such as cats, rabbits and dogs, in the region of around £50-£250 depending on what you opt for.
  • They are one of the least expensive pets to keep.
  • They need less maintenance than other pets. They generally need cleaning every 2 weeks with tap safe and other chemicals to keep the tank healthy.
  • They have very low running costs, especially if you opt for cold water fish that do not need a heater.
  • They can be company and respond in excitement when it is feeding time.
  • They take up less space, meaning they will look nice in smaller homes and spaces (although a decent sized tank should always be a priority).

The Cons of Owning Fish

  • Although lower in upkeep costs, they still need to have food, plants and certain chemicals bought on a regular basis to ensure they are kept in a healthy condition to optimise their lifespan.
  • Looking at the same tank can get a bit boring, so you will often need to change the plants and ornaments around to keep things interesting.
  • The more exciting looking fish such as marine fish like Dory and Nemo, are harder to keep needing very specific conditions, so those who do not know much about fish have less choice on what fish they can own.
  • They do not live very long compared to other animals, meaning that you will have to deal with their death more often and buy more fish to keep your tank from looking empty.
  • If you get attached to a fish and it gets ill, you cant exactly take it to a vet as they are unlikely to be able to treat it and if it does die, this can be a sad time.
  • Their excrement can quickly dirty the tank, days after cleaning it, especially if you have white or light coloured gravel (my advice would be to go for darker gravel to keep your tank looking nicer for longer).
  • Despite how exciting it may originally seem to own fish, they quickly become a burden to those who are not that passionate about fish and the novelty quickly wears off and the conditions the fish are kept in deteriorate.
  • Sadly many people who purchase fish, think that due to their being less responsibility to care for them, that they do not look after fish properly and keep them in small tanks, over or under feed them and keep too many fish in small tanks.


Fish can be a great addition to someones home and office space. They can help to make a house a home if you want a pet but are not allowed to keep pets such as cats and dogs. They need much less maintenance and are generally quite easy to look after.

If you have wanted fish for a long time and fully understand the commitment you need to make to keeping fish, you should try looking after someone else’s fish whilst they are on holiday to see if you are still interested in owning them after they come back from holiday. It’s okay to think you want to keep fish, but its much better to have experience of owning fish before you commit to keeping your own.

It is also important to have a plan for if you decide you no longer want to keep fish, so they will have a home. Although small in size, fish still need to have their ethics considered, and unless you are prepared to ensure they have a good sized tank to swim in and can exhibit their natural behaviours, you should probably give keeping fish a miss and stick to admiring them in pet stores.

Just keep swimming

~ Dory, Finding Nemo

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