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Why Fish Make Great First Pets
Author: Charles Kassotis

Your child says he or she wants a pet. This is often a good idea, as pets can help teach respect for other living creatures, as well as teach children responsibility and the importance of taking care of what belongs to them. However, it is not always a good idea to simply run out and purchase a dog or a cat. Even something small, like a hamster or a gerbil, may not be the best route for a first pet. A fish, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for a first pet, as its specific qualities make it ideal for helping kids learn about taking care of a pet.

Many parenting experts will tell you that it is important to give children small amounts of responsibility to begin with. While it is important that kids learn how to do things on their own, overwhelming them with unreasonable demands will only cause emotional distress and may even permanently damage their confidence. The same rule applies when choosing out a first pet. The reason that fish are such great first pets lies in the fact that fish requires some work on the part of the child, but not so much that it is overwhelming. Additionally, fish are easier to care for in general, and they won’t make a mess all over the house or the yard.

Finding out that they are getting a fish can be disappointing to a child, but you need to explain things to him or her. If you live in an apartment and any other type of pet is not feasible, you need to say that. If you are allergic to other animals, you need to explain that cats and dogs make you sick. And if you think that you will get another pet down the road, tell the child that you will use the fish to see whether or not he or she is responsible enough for a pet. Once the child proves that she or he will take care of the fish properly, then you can move on to a more care intensive pet.

Shopping for the fish can actually be a fun experience. The kids get to look at different kinds of fish, and they get to look at aquariums. Picking out what goes in the aquarium, to “decorate” the fish’s “home” is also part of the fun. Starting out with a simple aquarium, or an even simpler fish bowl, is a good bet. Let the child choose out colorful rocks for the bottom of the fish tank or bowl, and let him or her choose a plant or some ceramic decoration. It need not be fancy.

Put your child in charge of feeding the fish each day. Show him or her how to properly do this, and choose out a time of day that is easy to remember for the regular feeding. Just before school, or just before bed, are good times because they are times of the day that are generally associated with a fairly set routine. Help your child clean out the tank as needed, ensuring that the child learns how to care for animals.

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