Pet Corner: There’s nothing fishy about getting a finned pet

Fish as pets? Yes! Fish make great pets for the entire family. One of the benefits of fish is that once you get them initially set up, there is minimal maintenance. Also, the initial cost can be kept down. You can even get started for about $100 or so. Also, fish are constantly active, which make them entertaining to look at.

When deciding on fish, you basically have three types to choose from. The least expensive are goldfish types of fish. These are coldwater fish, which means no heater is needed. There are even different varieties of goldfish to choose from. Generally, goldfish do not multiply in a pet tank, which means no little babies to watch. It also means no overcrowding or excess fish.

Goldfish are a dirtier fish, so there is a little more maintenance. The filter will need to be cleaned and changed more often. Also, goldfish can grow to a substantial size, requiring either a larger tank or very limited number of fish in your tank. Goldfish make great pond fish, so if you have an outdoor pond, you can grow your goldfish indoors and then transfer them outside in the spring and get some new smaller ones for your tank.

Next would be saltwater fish. To be honest, if you have never had fish, I would not recommend these. Saltwater fish are generally the most expensive and require a great deal of prep work and continual maintenance. Saltwater fish are more for the experienced fish owner. The fish are beautiful, yes, but they come with a hefty price. Generally, you would not want to start with a smaller tank, like a 10-gallon tank. The fish are also more expensive. The supplies, such as filters, lighting, chemicals, etc., also can add up quickly.

Also, you want to start slowly with your saltwater tank. First set up the tank and let it run empty for several days or more. Then add one fish and then wait a few weeks. If that fish stays healthy, add one more. Wait a few weeks, then add another fish. Many people will even buy a few “practice” fish and then later replace them with the fish they actually want, due to the high cost of saltwater fish. If you lose a saltwater fish, it can be a major hit.

Freshwater tropical fish are an ideal choice, in my opinion. They are a minimal investment, or you can also go high-end. You can start with a small 10-gallon tank or 55 gallons or more. You will need a heater with these types of fish. Many of these fish are also live bearers and will multiply easily in your pet tank. They come in such a wide range of colors and sizes — the sky’s the limit.

The first thing is to decide what type of tropical you want to go with, and that can help to determine your tank size. The best thing to do to help you decide is to go to several pet stores that carry fish and look at all of the fish. Once you find several that you are interested in, ask a salesperson to help you.

Take a notepad with you. Write down the types of fish they each are and the specific names of those fish. Ask which ones on your list get along together. Some fish do well in community tanks; others do not. Some like acidic water; others don’t. There are even different water temperatures some fish require. Adding live plants can even make the tank more attractive.

Fish tanks can add to your home décor, or they can simply be a small tank in your child’s room. The sky is the limit when it comes to your fish tank. You can even have a tank custom-made for your particular needs and desires.

So, head out to a pet store with fish and start choosing which ones you want. Remember to ask lots of questions. Go back home and do some homework and research. Then, plan where you will put your tank. If you are buying a larger type of tank, do some shopping around. You might be able to pick up a floor model or discontinued style. Then, go home, set it up, and relax and enjoy your new tank.

Cheryl Loveland is a dog groomer, pet-sitter, dog trainer and fosterer for many unwanted animals. She does rescue work for all types of animals and has owned or fostered most types of domestic animals and many wild ones. She currently resides with her bloodhound, which she has shown in conformation and is currently training for search-and-rescue work. Also residing with her are a bichon frisée, two cats and two birds. She welcomes comments, questions and suggestions for future articles at Remember, she is not an expert: she offers her opinions and suggestions from her experience and research.