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Thinking about getting a fish tank--what do I need to know?

My daughter will be five in a few weeks. Her preschool class recently got a fish, named it Pablo, and she's enthralled. Now she wants a fish tank for her birthday. I really don't know anything about fish.

What would be a good starter fish for a preschooler? One fish, or more? My boyfriend has an old aquarium stored; would it be okay to use that one or should I get one of those little one- or two-gallon tabletop tanks to begin with? What else will I need besides the tank and fish? What kind of cost am I looking at? Other than dropping those nasty flakes in the water every so often--how often?--what else will have to be done so the tank is kept well?

Is this a good idea, or should I run screaming the other way?


Asked by Ballad at 2:17 AM on Feb. 10, 2013 in Pets

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Answers (16)
  • Fish are fun to sit and watch.

    Start with a 5 gallon tank, gravel, pump, thermometer,light, fish food, net, and a couple of gold fish and a algae eater. Algae eaters help keep the sides of the tank clean.
    Never and I mean NEVER mix a Beta with other fish. They're mean.
    If you go to Walmart, you may be able to find everything you want in a kit. A lot less expensive this way than buying at a pet store or individually.
    You're looking at spending between 50-75 dollars. You might be able to find some things at a Salvation or Goodwill store, which would save you a lot of money.
    They are a lot of work because you have to keep the tank clean. And that's a whole other thing.
    We had one and it got old fast, lol

    Answer by PMSMom10 at 2:38 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • And you can keep her fish in small bowl until you think she is up to the challenge, then graduate to the tank PMSmom was talking about.
    ":Never and I mean NEVER mix a Beta with other fish. They're mean."
    But it sure is fun to put a mirror in front of the beta and watch it poof up!!

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 2:43 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • Honestly, gold fish is a great starter fish. That way if it dies from your dd thinking her fishy was starving, or she thought it needs a bubble bath, or she would want to sleep with it and the fish dies and gets the honorary burial at 'sea' you can get another identical one.

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 2:39 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • Beta fish can only live alone but they are near impossible to kill.

    And I know lots of people say they are fine in a small bowl but I gotta admit... I feel sorry for the ones in a tiny bowl... mine has a 5 gallon tank. X-

    Answer by But_Mommie at 7:40 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • i think goldfish are great starter fish. my 3 & 4 year old have a 10 gallon aquarium in their room with one goldfish in it that has lived for almost a year now.

    buy some ammonia drops (since goldfish give off a lot of it) and some other drops to help make tap water safe. buy everything you want for the tank first- plants, rocks, etc. set it all up with the filter and let it run for 24 hours.

    next, take your LO to the pet store and pick out your fish. i'd say one, but you can get two if you feel he needs a friend. leave them in the bag for about an hour, floating inside the tank, so they get used to the feel of the water temperature of the tank. then, simply add them in.

    feed them about a pinch or two, once daily.

    Answer by tnm786 at 8:16 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • If you decide to use the old tank, clean it well and fill with water for at least 24 hours before introducing the fish.

    Answer by PMSMom10 at 2:40 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • actually, i think it's lived longer than a year. and thanks for asking this because you reminded me that i need to clean the tank! lol

    i also have a big 55 gal downstairs with lots of tropical fish in it. that one is a bitch to clean...

    Answer by tnm786 at 8:18 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • I would just get her a Beta Fish. They are hearty & don't require much care. A small bowl is all you need. No pump or anything.

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 8:42 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • See we tried gold fish first and we went through a fish a month! Those things just KEPT dying!! The beta fish has been alive for almost a year and survived a move to a new house. lol.

    Answer by But_Mommie at 9:38 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

  • Get her a nice little one from Walmart or Petco/Petsmart. They range in price from like $19 on up. Get one that has a filter in it that keeps the air and water moving constantly (otherwise the fish die 3 days later). We bought a regular $19 glass tank put pet store rocks at the bottom, a filter that keeps the water moving and a gold fish..the fish went from really tiny to almost 3 inches! AND it has not died yet and we have had the fish for 8 months now. Just don't get a bowl and put the fish in it, the fish will not survive and your child will be so upset! Good luck and have fun

    Answer by madmueller at 10:54 AM on Feb. 10, 2013

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