Can I just tell you, having no voice for two days in a row is really terrible! I called in to work today so I could rest my throat and hopefully recover…Saturday is Apple-Picking Day and I want to be healthy.

On to the meat of this post. In July, I acquired a male crowntail Betta splendens named Raymond. He lives in a purple tank on my kitchen table and has a mini castle and plastic plant to keep him happy. My building is pet-free (which is very nice to control noise and mess), so almost everyone has a fish tank going on. I’m so glad I joined the crowd! Even though Raymond can’t snuggle during movie nights, it’s still nice to come home in the evening and have another living creature in the apartment. I did a lot of research before getting Raymond, because I wanted to be a Good Pet Owner, so I’d like to share a few tips with those of you who are considering getting a pet.

Raymond's setup: light, tank, castle, fish, plant, gravel

Know what you can handle. I got a single Betta because they don’t require a very large space, they are not expensive, and they’re easy to maintain. If you’re new to fish-keeping, you probably want to start off with an ordinary goldfish, a small platy, or a Betta, rather than something complicated like an angelfish or a piranha (which may or may not be illegal in your area). Do you have little time to spend filtering water, scrubbing tanks, and aquascaping? A 50-gallon outfit may not be for you. Short on cash? Stick to tropical freshwater friends. The outlay is simpler and the more popular fish themselves usually do not cost very much.

Betta pellets, water conditioner, net, and cup. I try not to net Raymond because of his fins.

Remember that your fish is a living thing. Scientists and fish fanciers debate whether or not our finned buddies can feel pain or not, but I think it’s best to assume that they can. If your fish looks sick or hurt, please do something about it, don’t just let him swim around in discomfort. I’ll be honest, I have forgotten to give Raymond his morning pellets sometimes when I’m running late. But as soon as I get home, I take proper care of his needs; I’d hate for him to go belly-up because I was too busy to feed him. Should you need to move, or are unable to care for your pet properly anymore, please do the right thing for him and your community: find an appropriate new home for him. Never abandon a fish by flushing a live one down the toilet. He will most likely die a horrible death, but if he somehow escapes into real water where he does not belong, he will damage the ecosystem.

Stick-on tank thermometer. Raymond's tank is usually a lovely 75 degrees.

Continue to expand your fish-keeping knowledge. You know me, I’m a nerd and an information sponge. When it comes to my beloved Raymond, there’s always new things to learn and new areas of fish-keeping to explore. For example, did you know that there are fish shows? They’re similar to cat- and dog-shows and give owners, fanciers, and breeders a chance to get ideas for their wet friends and encounter new products. If you’ve got the time, money, and inclination, you can also try breeding your fish. This is something I’d like to try down the road, but it’s a pretty intense process that takes more skill than I’ve got.

Reading material: Freshwater Aquariums for Dummies and Animal Planet's Aquarium Care of Bettas

So there’s some basic information for all you potential fish owners. I’ve really enjoyed having Raymond around, and taking care of him is one chore that I don’t mind. Before you adopt a little aquatic buddy, please do some research and discover what’s best for you. Readers: do you have a pet? What advice do you have about a non-human roommate?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kat
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 13:34:44

    I love that you try not to net him so that his fins don’t get hurt! We need probably weekly pics of our fishy-friend.


  2. Trackback: raymond « My Words Are Sparkly

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