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The Perfect Pet
The afternoon of my tenth birthday was spent cleaning and setting up a tank for my first ever pet fish, Mr. Beta. The red and purple beta was not the first pet in my family, but he was the first animal that I was completely responsible for. I diligently cared for my fish for a year and a half. Although his life was short, it had a positive effect on me. I learned to take responsibility for the care of my pet. All of the tank cleanings, feeding, and interaction was left to me.
Many parents can see the value of their childe getting a pet. A pet can teach responsibility and provide company and happiness. On the other hand, there can be downsides. Many people have allergies to animals with fur, and those kinds of animals shed which can be a pain to clean up. Pets like dogs require regular walking and exercise. Both cats and dogs can ruin furniture and carpet in houses, and some apartment complexes have rules against pets because of the damage and noise they can cause. Parents might even not want the hassle of having a pet around the house because they feel the responsibility will eventually be pushed on them. There can also be a significant time commitment needed for a pet, not just in day to day life, but also over the years. Dogs, for example can live over fifteen years, which becomes a commitment not only for now when the child wants the pet, but maybe all the way through his or her college career. These are all very good reasons for parents to not want their child to get a pet, but maybe there is a way for both parent and child to be happy.
Beta fish are extraordinary creatures. They are intelligent, caring, quiet, and easy to take care of. For these reasons and more, betas are the perfect pet for children, especially for those who are unable to have other pets.
Some might argue that having a fish is less fulfilling than owning another type of animal. Betas can be seen as unintelligent, not interactive, and in some cases boring, but these things are not true. They have an abnormally large amount of intelligence compared to the standard gold fish, which is displayed through their ability to recognize and react to different situations and stimulants in their environments. In multiple occasions, beta owners have reported their fish reacting to them when they enter the room (Diamond). They also have a wide variety of personality types, for instance betas will take different approaches to build nests. Some may start randomly while others systematically line bubbles up with each other building in layers. Also, betas may develop preferences in food or color and scenery. A beta owner will be able to track their fish’s preferences through swim patterns and flaring.
While there is less to do for a beta, they do not give back less than other animals. You may not be able to hold fish or pet them, but they will still develop a kind of love for their owners. Overtime, a beta will begin to recognize its primary owner over other humans it sees throughout its life. Betas will begin to associate their caretakers with food in addition to interaction. While one cannot interact directly with a beta, he or she can ‘play” with the fish. If one holds a mirror up to the beta, showing him his reflection, the fish will flare and swim around. The beta will develop different swim patterns as they grow to recognize objects shown to them by their owner. Owning a beta fish can be just as fulfilling as owning a dog or other pet.
One of the best things about owning a beta is that they require a very small amount of time for care compared to other pets. If the beta is housed in a bowl, it will need to be cleaned once every one to two weeks, but if it has the luxury of living in an aquarium the cleanings can be spaced out of multiple months depending on the capacity. Day to day, a beta requires only feeding and three to five minutes of exercise a day. Compared to the necessary walking, feeding, bathing, and check-ups for dogs and cats caring for a beta is incredibly less time consuming.
The cost of owning a beta fish is very low compared to other pets. For example, the initial cost of owning a dog can be one hundred dollars or more, depending on licensing and adoption fees, breed of dog, and necessary preliminary vaccinations (“Owning a Dog Cost”). This price does not yet include the important checkups and regular vaccinations, feeding, and care or walking charges that may come up during the dog’s lifespan. However, the cost of staring a beta tank will usually run somewhere around fifty dollars, depending on the tank or bowl size, how many ornaments and plants you decide to purchase, and whether you buy your fish from a specialized breeder or a generic pet store. Out of the four fish I have had, I have never spent over fifty dollars to get a fish and the necessary supplies including food and water conditioner. In addition to having a lower start up cost than many other pets, betas also have a low up keep cost. One jar of food pellets, which costs less than ten dollars, can feed one or two fish for at least six months. There will be no vaccinations or doctors visits for your fish, and as long as you keep their water clean there will likely be no need for medications. This adds up to being less than one hundred dollars a year that will go towards your fish.
by their owner. They are just as capable of interaction and attachment as other pets.
When a dog or cat is in the house, there is always the risk of the animal shedding on, chewing, or marking furniture and other items in the house. Carpet can be ruined by an ornery dog, and blinds can be destroyed by a vengeful cat, but what can a beta do? Maybe they will move a few rocks around, or flick their fins angrily, but no damage will be done. Betas have been known to jump out of tanks, but as long as you keep them happy and lidded, a fish will never leave its bowl. Being confined to its tank, a beta will not have the chance to ruin any furniture.
Betas are friendly, sociable, easy to care for, and clean. They require little maintenance, but still supply a full pet owning experience through their personalities and unique habits. Owning a beta will not put a large amount of strain on the owners family or cause damage to their living environment. Betas are silent and undisruptive, and they do not demand a plethora of attention. If you are wary about getting your child a pet, for whatever reason, you should consider getting him or her a beta fish. With a beta, your child can enjoy the companionship of a pet without you having to put up with many of the discerning habits of other household pets.
Diamond, Wendy. "The Life Aquatic: A Look into the World of Betta & Goldfish." Animal Fair. N.p., 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.
"Owning a Dog Cost." Cost of Owning a Dog. N.p., Sept. 2007. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.