Do Fish Make Good Pets for Kids?

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It’s no surprise for anyone that children love pets. It’s also no surprise that, in most cases, it’s the parents that deal with the aftermath. Most pets make a lot of mess, require regular feeding, and require constant walks, training, and attention.

This is where aquarium fish come in. Few parents think of fish when it comes to finding a pet for their children. My role here is to change people’s perception and show that tank fish actually make for perfect pets for beginners and children.

Top Reasons Fish Make Good Pets for Children

So, here are the top reasons why fish make good pets for children:

1. Fish are Easy to Take Care

Fish are not pretentious, at least not as pretentious as a dog, which requires almost constant attention, walks, and playtime. Tank fish only need one thing – a stable and healthy environment where they can feel comfortable and safe. Aside from that, there’s nothing much you need to do, since fish don’t need petting.

Overall, there are several things you need to consider when accommodating your fish:

  • Consider a filter – If you’ve already invested in a tank, the fish, fish food, tank decorations, plants, and substrate, you might as well invest in a filter too. The filter represents the tank’s lungs, improving water oxygenation, keeping the water clean, and create water movement, helping the fish breathe better. It will also decrease the need for frequent water changes since the water will remain clean and fresh for longer.
  • Decorate the tank properly – The best way to accommodate your fish is to mimic their natural habitat. This requires you to add plants, caves, rocks, wood, and other items that would typically form the fish’s natural environment. By doing so, the fish will feel more comfortable and safer in its habitat, displaying more vivid colors and a more energetic behavior as a result.
  • Ensure optimal feeding – Each fish species has specific food preferences. Learn what your preferred species eat in the wild and try to replicate their diet as best as you can. This will keep the fish healthy, boost its colors, influence its growth, and prolong its lifespan considerably.
  • Maintain a balanced fish-per-gallon ratioOvercrowding is a major problem in most aquariums, since most people want as many fish as possible. The issue is that overcrowding decreases the water quality, leads to more fish waste, higher ammonia levels, and stresses out the fish. Different fish have different tank requirements, including water-volume-wise, with one guppy, for instance, requiring 2 gallons of water. On the other hand, one Oscar fish requires 50 gallons of water. Learn your favorite species’ water requirements to provide it with optimal living conditions and avoid overcrowding.
  • Perform regular water changes – By regular, I mean weekly. The entire process will last around 15-20 minutes since you will only be changing 10-15% of the water each time. Regular water changes will replenish trace elements, eliminate dirt and debris, remove harmful chemicals like ammonia and nitrites, and oxygenate the water.
  • Consider species compatibility – Don’t mix incompatible fish species. If you aim for a community tank, learn which species go along with which. For instance, carnivores don’t go along well with pretty much any other species. Big fish don’t go along with small ones, and aggressive species are better kept alone. Learning the dynamics between different species will allow you to create a safe and thriving aquatic environment that both your fish and children will enjoy.

I know this seems a bit excessive to take in at once, but I assure you it isn’t. You will only need to do some of these things once, while others will become routine fast.

2. Fish Don’t Require Much Space

Compare fish with a dog or a cat which will make the entire house their territory, and you can see how fish are different. Fish only need a properly set up tank with plants and caves, and they will be right at home.

You don’t need to search for them around the home or worry about them messing up your furniture or pooping on the carpet. You will always find them in the same place.

3. Healthy Aquariums Don’t Smell

Most parents will avoid aquariums due to the smell they produce, but a healthy and well-maintained aquarium is pretty much odorless. Only dirty tanks tend to smell for a few reasons. These include:

  • Excessive algae growth – Algae are generally beneficial for the tank, but not when they overgrow. This tends to happen in murky tanks lacking any live plants or aquariums where you haven’t changed the water in a while. Check the tank for algae formation if you sense a stale and muddy odor. You can’t miss them.
  • Ammonia buildup – Ammonia will often spike in unclean or overcrowded tanks with little maintenance. It is the result of fish waste, decaying food residues, and dead matter polluting the water and altering its chemical composition. Change the water regularly, keep the algae in check, and get a reliable filtering system, and ammonia will no longer be a problem.
  • Stale water – If you don’t have a filtering system and you don’t perform any water changes, expect the tank to go foul fast. You need to remember that the tank is an enclosed environment which can get stale fast without proper maintenance.

4. Fish are Hypoallergenic Pets

Fish don’t have any hair, which is great for people with various pet allergies. Now you no longer need to fear about your child developing allergy symptoms whenever attempting to socialize with their pet.

That being said, some fish diseases and parasites can transmit to humans. Fish Tuberculosis is one of them. To prevent any issues, I suggest avoiding contact with the tank water. Tank water isn’t necessarily harmful, but it can be if the fish is sick. It’s also filled with various micro lifeforms that could make you sick.

Don’t mess with the water if you don’t need to, and, most importantly, teach your kids not to try to grab the fish.

5. Fish Don’t Cost Much

Unlike pretentious dog and cat breeds that typically cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, high-end fish strains go nowhere near those amounts. Some of the most expensive guppies, for instance, will go up to $100 per piece. And the same goes for most fish species.

This is due to the fish’s reproductive prowess. Since most fish can produce tens or hundreds of offspring in one session. You can find guppies as cheap as 2.5$ per piece. And once you’ve bought several of them, you never need to buy any. Your guppies will start reproducing shortly, providing you with an outstanding number of fry.

You can even breed them selectively for profit if that suits you. It will keep your children busy and make them part of something important.

6. Fish Don’t Require Vet Checkups

Unlike other pets, fish don’t require vaccines or regular vet checkups to verify their health. Setting that aside, you might need the vet’s assistance at times, provided your fish struggles with unidentified disorders. So long as you provide your fish with optimal living conditions and change their water regularly, they shouldn’t experience any health issues.

But, sometimes, your fish will contract some parasitic infection or disease that could put their life at risk. And the problem is that many of these diseases don’t show any visible symptoms at first or display overlapping symptoms. Many of the signs on display may be typical to several conditions, which can cause confusion as a result.

Speaking to an experienced vet about the problems may be ideal for identifying the conditions fast and providing your fish with adequate treatment.

7. Fish Don’t Need Playtime

Generally speaking, fish aren’t as intelligent as dogs, for instance. Since their brains aren’t as complex, they don’t require playtime or constant attention. There are, clearly, notable exceptions to the rule, like Oscars. Oscars will typically live alone in the tank, primarily because they are relatively large fish, each in need of at least 50 gallons of water.

They are also highly intelligent and require occasional entertainment to remain mentally active. Otherwise, they might experience stress and become apathetic and even fall sick. This makes the Oscar a great choice for children who can find ways to entertain the fish, like throwing a ping-pong ball in their tank.

Other than that, few fish need any form of entertainment. Just decorate their tank with caves, rocks, plants, wood, and places to explore, and it will keep them entertained around the clock. Fish have a short memory, so a well-decorated tank will give them the impression of an immense environment and help them feel comfortable and safe in their habitat.

8. Fish Don’t Need Grooming

Grooming can consume a lot of time, whether you have dogs or cats. You need to make appointments, transport the pet to the location, and deal with its tantrums along the way. Then you need to repeat the experience regularly since hair and nails grow constantly.

This is no longer a problem with fish who don’t need any type of grooming. That being said, fish still require your attention occasionally, maintenance-wise. The maintenance routine involves:

  • Cleaning the tankThe cleaning job has to do with removing excess algae, dead plant matter, excess fish waste, and food residues accumulating on the substrate. How often you need to clean the fish’s environment depends on the tank’s size, how many fish you have, which species, etc. Some species are more proficient at pooping or simply messing up their environment than others, so you need to keep that in mind as well. You may need to clean the tank once every 6-8 weeks on average, given specific the specific circumstances I’ve mentioned.
  • Removing fish waste and food residues – Accumulated fish waste and decaying food will increase the ammonia levels in the tank water and promote algae overgrowth. Removing these residues regularly will minimize the need for a more extended tank cleaning and keep the fish’s environment more stable in the long run.
  • Monitor tank dynamics – Fish can often become overtly playful or even aggressive towards one another. This can happen due to territorial behavior, during the mating season, or simply as part of a given pecking order. This can lead some fish to bully others, stressing them out and weakening their immune system. To prevent that, you should monitor the tank dynamics, identify the aggressors, and take measures if the situation doesn’t calm on its own.

This may sound like much, but it’s not. All these measures should cost you more than several hours of your time monthly, put together.

9. Fish Don’t Need Training

Fish will always do what fish do. Not only can you not train them, but you don’t need to. They don’t run around the house to tip over the furniture, won’t attack guests, and you don’t need to teach them cadence walking. Fish will do their thing and provide you with free entertainment for no efforts on your part.

This makes fish even more appealing to children who don’t always have the discipline to train their pets. You can now direct their discipline towards caring for the fish, whether it’s feeding them, changing their water, or cleaning the tank regularly.

10. Fish Are Safe Pets

Aquarium fish don’t bite, scratch, or attack humans, or at least they can’t do that outside their environment. Because you could get a pair of piranhas who can prove me wrong easily. But, for the most part, fish are peaceful and timid creatures, looking to live their lives with as little human interference as possible.

This alone makes them ideal pets for children who will be more than happy to care for their tiny, colorful, slippery, and playful companions.


Fish do make good pets for children, but it also depends on the species. Some fish species tend to be more pretentious or sensitive than others. Improper care can hurt or even kill them, requiring in-depth knowledge of the species’ feeding habits, tank requirements, and illness predisposition.

I suggest informing yourself thoroughly about the fish species you’re looking to purchase. Learn about the fish’s requirements, behavior, dietary requirements, lifespan, and any other aspect of interest. This will allow you to teach your kids the ideal maintenance tips to keep the fish healthy for years to come.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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