Are Fish Tanks Suitable for Children?

Most children are fascinated with animals and want a dog, a cat, two birds, a horse, and some fish. But are fish and fish tanks suitable for children? The answer to this question is to a very high degree depending on how old your child is.

Children under 12-14 years are not suitable to keep a fish tank by themselves and will need help from their parents or some other adult to maintain their fish tank. The child can take care of daily care such as the feeding of the fish. They will, however, require help with larger undertakings such as changing the water in the fish tank and cleaning the electrical equipment.

Small children under 5-7 years of age should not be entrusted with the care of any animal including fish. This is not to say that small animals shouldn’t have pets but rather to say that the parents understand that the pet is their responsibility and not the children. A child in this age group can benefit a lot from being allowed to interact with the animal, see fish swim and feed the fish but is not ready to care for the animal themselves.

As an example can be said that children off this age group only should be allowed to feed the fish when a parent is present. It isn’t an uncommon event that children try to be kind to the fish by feeding them the entire can of fish food causing a biological disaster, and if not discovered and corrected the death of all the fish in the fish tank within a matter of hours.

Small children under 5-7 years should never be allowed to change the water in the fish tank or work with the electric equipment used in the fish tank due to the risk of injury.

Some parents might think that a fish is a good pet for a child since it requires less care than say a dog and are cheaper. This is only partly true. A fish requires good care to remain healthy and the parents should expect that they will have to do a certain amount of work to keep their child’s fish alive and healthy.

True it didn’t cost that much but it is still a living thing and does as such deserve to be threaded with care. Expect that a fish tank will require 5 minutes of your time each day for daily care and an hour each week for partial water changes etc.

Remember that a small fish tank requires more work than a large one. You should therefore never buy a small goldfish bowl or another small fish tank for your child. It might seem easier but requires a lot more work and only experienced aquarists should keep fish in small fish tanks.

I recommend a fish tank of at least 25-30 gallons (around 100 L) as the first fish tank for your child. Anything smaller will give you a lot of extra work and most likely more dead fish. A little larger fish tank also allows you the luxury to choose between more fish for your fish tank. So what fish should you choose for your child?

Some fish species are more suitable than others for children. First, of all, a child should never be allowed to keep toxic or otherwise potentially harmful fish species. Secondly, the fish should be hardy enough to be easy to take care of, accept flake food and other easily storable foods and be calm enough not to be stressed by the children playing near the fish tank, tapping on the glass, etc.

Suitable fish includes many livebearers, barbs and tetras. Always buy fish that are suitable for your fish tank and don’t just let your child by the fish he thinks is most beautiful. Coolest or otherwise most appealing without considering their demands.

And don’t forget that you as a parent have to do your research so that you know how to take care of a fish tank before letting your child get one. It might be your child that is getting a fish tank but you are getting the responsibility.

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