Pet Envy

My kids want a pet. As someone who requested a horse for every single holiday, be it President’s Day or Christmas, for about 12 years, I can understand their desire. As a mom with many bells to answer to, I can understand my reluctance. I have an easy excuse for saying no to cats and dogs as my son and I are allergic. We have any number of insects in cages, nets, bags at any point in time. But the most recent requests have been for fish.

My question is this: Can I handle a fish? I mean, it seems simple, but do I really want to add supervising fish feeding 2x/day and cleaning a bowl to my daily tasks? Will the excitement wane and I be left with having to organize fish babysitting over Thanksgiving? Am I totally over thinking this?

Somehow it seems that adding a fish to our lives runs counter to my desire to simplify things. But then again, Chinese kept fish ponds to encourage peace and tranquility. Will we all achieve some greater peace by watching a fish swim in circles?

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  • Perhaps a Beta with a mirror???u00a0 I remember being traumatized by my guppies eating their young!

  • Elizabeth M

    If you do decide to get a fish — do NOT get a goldfish. Despite being nearly ubiquitous, they are actually harder to keep than most (need a lot more cleaning) and die more easily. nnMy husband is the fish man around here, back when we had a fish tank instead of a frog tank. But that advice I remember.nnAsk at the store for the easiest to keep fish. Some fish need to be in groups so they can school. But they’ll tell you what you can have for the size tank you want. Guppies usually work, because you can be sure to get only males; they are the ones with the fancy tails anyway. (And you avoid the problems mjdmom had!)nnYou might want to look into one of those little counter/desktop mini-aquariums instead of a regular bowl. With even a little filter, they need much less cleaning.nnThis from someone who’s only pets growing up were a couple guppies. Since then, I’ve had (not all at once) 3 cats, hamsters, 2 dogs, tank of fish, and 4 frogs!

  • Jurismater

    We got our kids one goldfish each a year or so ago, they forgot to take care of them despite our reminders, and they died. In a bowl right on our kitchen table, floating belly up at breakfast. Natural consequence par excellence. I say go for it.

  • Kat

    I love the idea of a tank with a filter, to make cleaning easier. We had a frog for about 7 months – he was an unsolicited gift for my son’s 6th birthday – and he eventually died, I think because we did not clean the tank often enough. Really, cleaning the tank was the most arduous task, in addition to trying to feed him live mealworms. Also, the kids weren’t supposed to touch the frog (that’s what the instructions said), and frogs are nocturnal, so all in all this was not a great pet for us!u00a0nMy advice would be to make it very clear to your kids that if you get a fish, they will not be able to play with the fish. They will be able to take care of him by feeding him and keeping his tank clean, but they will not be able to take him out and play with him. Sometimes, this is very hard to get across to children!nAlso, make sure that feeding is easy – it will be a long time before we get another pet that needs live insects to eat! And easy cleaning is also a must.

  • AWOL Mommy

    note to self, never ask JM to pet sit. 2nd note to self, don’t get pet at all.

  • Mary Alice

    We have gold fish from time to time, and it is pretty fun.u00a0 The kids do love to watch them for long stretches at a time, they are better than TV!u00a0 They always die eventually and then we don’t have them for a while.u00a0 If you have a tank with a filter and you do partial water changes, you don’t have to clean the tank too often.u00a0 Also, many fish are actually over fed, so you only have to feed once a day, we usually did it at breakfast.

  • Red

    My very negative attitude says that pets are really just more work for mom and not worth the lessons they teach to kids (at the young age of your children).u00a0 If YOU really want a pet, then get one, but expect to be the one to take of the pet, and definitely add those things you discussed to your “to do” list.u00a0 I guess fish are pretty low maintenance (compared to a dog!), but it will be additional things for you to do each day.u00a0 If you already feel you have plenty of personal time, you feel very relaxed, and you just want more to do–then go for it!u00a0 haha!nnI think kids have to be quite a bit older before they can be responsible enough to really take care of a pet.u00a0 For most kids, this means middle or high school.u00a0 And from what I remember as a kid, fish were very boring after the first week.u00a0 I had a better experience with hermit crabs, at least those were able to be picked up.nnMy advice–spend plenty of time at the local zoo or aquarium, sign up for your local petting zoo and/or nature center, and visit some local farms.u00a0 Offer to pet sit, and maybe even consider having another baby before embarking on pet ownership.u00a0 How’s that for super negative?u00a0

  • Julia Attaway

    For years we’ve solved the pet dilemma by pet sitting while friends are on vacation. A two-week stint with an animal is almost exactly the right length; the kids are on top of things for 10 days, and then there are just enough left over for me to shrug and say, “Gee, but I ended up taking of of him!”

  • guest

    ni recently learned that in order to keep goldfish living, they need one cooked and peeled green pea a day (or maybe every other day). Sounds silly I know but the woman who told me this has had her goldfish for an outstanding 8 years! She keeps a small container in the fridge of cooked peas and every morning, takes one out, peels it and plops it into the goldfish bowl. Her fish loves it and gobbles it right up.

  • Elenaculshaw

    My son won a fish recently at our school’s family fun night.u00a0 Our first instinct was to say no to the new pet.u00a0 However, we decided to see how long he could keep the poor thing alive.u00a0 We advised him that he needed to clean the bowl and he took our advice a little too zealously.u00a0 In the midst of cleaning he remembered that he shouldn’t shock the fish with ice-cold water; so, he did the opposite and added steaming-hot water.u00a0 He said that the fish jumped and promptly turned on its side.u00a0 Three days was all we had to put up with.u00a0 Fortunately he found the whole thing quite funny.u00a0 May you have the same good fortune!

  • Mary Alice

    pet sitting is a great suggestion — we had a rabbit for a week and it was terrific, the kids did not lose interest, and we would do it again in a flash, but I don’t want to own one!

  • Jurismater

    So Tex, what have you decided?! : )

  • Texas Mommy


  • Texas Mommy

    Thank you for all the awesome and insightful advice! I have been swimming with seahorses all week (the 2 year old VBS class) and haven’t had a chance to check in.u00a0nnLove, love, love the pet sitting idea! I am sure there is someone in our homeschooling group or church group that needs to deposit a fish somewhere for a few weeks. This seems like a good trial run for everyone since I am reluctant to commit even though birthdays are coming up.u00a0nnThank you for great advice!!n