Author Topic: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?  (Read 17543 times)

MayDay

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What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« on: September 12, 2014, 03:37:50 PM »
DS is turning 7 and wants a pet fish.  Neither H nor I know much about fish.  We want a hard-to-kill fish that can be fine left home alone for a week, and that we won't accidently kill. Having 3-5 fish would be fine, as long as they don't make babies or compromise the cheap/easyness.

What is the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish this?  We have a ten gallon aquarium with a mesh cover that I picked up at a garage sale.  Do we need a filter and heater and pump?  If we have to buy all that, is it cheaper to just buy a little kit with a smaller aquarium, but that includes everything?  What kind of fish should we get?


Spork

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2014, 03:41:49 PM »
You probably do want a pump and some sort of filtration.  There always seem to be tons of deals around here on craigslist (or before that on usenet) for used setups.

If you want cheap and hearty: ain't much better than goldfish.  If you have a reasonably sized tank, they'll actually get pretty darn big and live quite a while.  I've had feeder fish (i.e, what you buy to feed to other bigger fish) for .10 to .25 each live for 8 years or so.

MayDay

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2014, 03:50:05 PM »
There are a bunch of tanks in the 150$ and up price range on CL which is way more than I was expecting.

This one is 60$:  https://columbus.craigslist.org/for/4651223284.html

This one is only 40$:  https://columbus.craigslist.org/for/4658702658.html

Are these good prices? 

oldladystache

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2014, 04:10:34 PM »
I would first make sure the tank doesn't leak. Test it outside, just in case.

Then I would make sure the water you have access to is safe for fish. A lot of places use chloramines that stay in the water for a very long time and will kill your fish. If that's the case where you live you can buy stuff that will neutralize the chloramines. Chlorine will dissipate in a much shorter time.

Then fill the tank with water to about an inch from the top and let it rest for a day where you intend to keep it.

Go to the petshop and spend less than a dollar on a few feeder goldfish and a small package of goldfish food.

The fish will come in a plastic bag. Float the bag in the water for a while so the temperatures can equalize, then open it so the fish can swim out.

Every day sprinkle a pinch of the food on the water. Don't give them any more than they will eat within a few minutes.

Done.

if you want to get fancy you can get pretty shells and rocks and toys and things but you don't need to. You don't need a pump. As long as the water doesn't get really hot they will be fine. And cold won't bother them either.

If you're gonna be away for more than a week you should get someone to come in occasionally to feed them.

If the water gets cloudy you can put them, with some of their water, into another container for a while and clean it out.

DoubleDown

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2014, 04:11:25 PM »
If you want cheap and hearty: ain't much better than goldfish.  If you have a reasonably sized tank, they'll actually get pretty darn big and live quite a while.  I've had feeder fish (i.e, what you buy to feed to other bigger fish) for .10 to .25 each live for 8 years or so.

+1

I also know next to nothing about fish, but goldfish are super cheap and easy. My daughters won a couple of goldfish at a local fair a few years ago, and they are extremely easy to care for and hearty. They're still doing great about four years later.

You don't need a filter or pump or anything else, just the tank and some water conditioner. Just take out a few gallons of water every couple of days and replace with clean, fresh water (you want to replace about 40% of the water every 3-4 days). Every couple of months you should take the fish out and clean the algae from the tank.

You would be fine with your existing 10 gallon tank, that could easily house 2-4 goldfish comfortably. Just put some small rocks in the bottom, and a couple of interesting items in there for them (like a plant, a little house or a few odds and ends that they can hide behind when they want).

You can feed them goldfish flakes -- a $5 supply lasts like 6 months. Or give them a couple of frozen peas occasionally. You will also need some water conditioner to remove the chlorine and other harmful chemicals from the tap water when you add fresh water to the tank. A small $3-4 bottle lasts years.

MayDay

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2014, 04:54:50 PM »
Yay, this sounds easy.  However, removing 4 gallons of water every 3-4 days sounds like a pain.  If I know in advance that I will never do that, does that mean I will kill them? 

So are the 3-4 goldfish going to make hundreds of baby goldfish? 

oldladystache

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2014, 05:04:18 PM »
No it won't kill them, and no, they won't have babies.

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2014, 05:19:03 PM »
Same situation here for our 5-year-old daughter. Beta fish in a bowl. Fish is cheap and bowl is cheap. "They" say to use water conditioner, etc. I did this only the first time. Fish lived about 1 year, we changed the water about 5 times, fed it from time to time... I am sure it survived at least one week-long fast. Anyway, it was very low key.

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2014, 08:00:46 PM »
Yeah for the beta!

Simple to care for, lives usually from 1-2 years, you don't need pump and whatnot. We actually used to have one in a glass jar with an anturius that had the roots in the water, so it doubled as a pretty vase. Change water once a week, give it a half an hour to evaporate chlorine and you're set. I had a friend who even took hers in travels (mason jar), and he lived 5 years (the longest I ever heard of).

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2014, 08:59:25 PM »
Bettas live in the wild in warm shallow tropical ponds.  They can mouth breathe (go to the surface and take gulps of air) so the pump is not really necessary.  If you don't fill the tank too full you have a better surface to volume ration as well for gas exchange - not only do you need oxygen in the water, but the carbon dioxide has to get out - that is half the function of a bubbler. They need to eat regularly.  And, because they are tropical, they need warmer water than the ambient air - this means a heater.
This is an informative site:
http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/anabantids2/p/betta.htm

They are a lot more interesting than goldfish, but goldfish are harder to kill.


sol

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2014, 09:19:19 PM »
I've been keeping various kinds of fish for about a decade.  My suggestion is a single goldfish in an unheated and unlit 20 or 30 gallon tank with an external hang-on filter.  I'd start on craigslist, and expect to pay about $100 for a newer tank in good condition with everything you need included.

1.  Goldfish are pretty durable, cheap, attractive, and will thrive in room temperature water.

2.  Larger tanks take a little longer to clean, but they less likely to have water chemistry problems that plague small tanks and kill fish.  Do NOT get anything smaller than 10 gallons at the absolute minimum, and that won't be big enough for a single goldfish once it grows up.  Those little 1 or 3 gallon kits are cheap, but very hard to maintain.

3.  You could just swap out half the water every week and not use a filter, but putting a filter on the tank will greatly decrease the frequency at which you have to clean the tank.  Hang-on filters are the easiest to clean and maintain.  Do NOT get a filter that requires you to periodically replace their brand-specific filter inserts.  They're like printer ink cartridges but worse.

4.  You will still have to clean the tank sometimes.  The more fish you have in a given space, the more often you need to clean it.  So fewer fish in a bigger tank is easier.

5.  Setting up a new tank means creating a new ecosystem.  The tank needs the right balance of the right kinds of bacteria to turn the ammonia in the fish poop into nitrate.  If you just put a PetCo goldfish in a tank full of tapwater, I'd expect it to die.  If you know someone with an existing healthy tank, you can take some of their water and mulm (gross organic stuff from bottom of the tank) and put it in your tank, top off with treated tapwater, run the filter for a few days to clear the water up, and then try adding your goldfish.  Still might die the first few times.

6.  You can put special live aquarium plants in your tank to soak up the nitrate and then almost never have to clean your tank, but plants need special lights and they are expensive to operate and the lights will grow algae if you don't balance them just right, which means more cleaning.  You also need timers and power strips and things to go with them, so I'd suggest just skipping the plants.

7.  For about $15 you can buy a battery powered fish feeder that sits on top of your tank and feeds them twice per day.  These work great, as long as you remember to keep them full.  They're easy to forget about until they get empty or the battery dies and your fish start turning up dead of starvation.  Basically, all of the food you put in the tank will eventually turn into filth you have to remove from the tank, so feed the fish enough to keep them happy without making them fat.

« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 09:25:45 PM by sol »

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2014, 10:21:23 PM »
Ex pet store employee specializing in aquariums here!

10 gallons is a good size.  However, I would NOT recommend setting up a tank with goldfish and no filter, particularly if you aren't committed to the frequent, large water changes.  Goldfish are the little piggies of the fish world.  Filtration biologically converts the ammonia that they excrete into less harmful nitrates.  This can be accomplished with many types of filters, like an under gravel, hang-on, or internal filter.  It is also nice to have a light so you can, y'know, see the fish.  By the time you buy the accessories for the 10-gal, you could probably purchase a 3-5 gallon kit.  I'd recommend one with a power filter if you don't like the sound of the air pump required for an under gravel filter.  Guppies and white cloud minnows are two good choices for small, unheated aquariums.  Male fancy guppies will of course not procreate, and they are colorful, and your kid can pick out different colors, so they're a little more fun than the minnows.

Goldfish get pretty big, so it's good to have an exit strategy, such as a friend with a pond, if you go the goldfish route and don't want to buy a 55 gallon tank eventually.

Play sand from the hardware store is a cheap option instead of gravel if you're not using an under gravel filter.  You only need about a 1/2" for decor purposes, so this mostly makes sense if you're going with a larger aquarium.  Things like little broken terra cotta pots are fine for decor; the fish don't know the difference, but they do appreciate a place to hide.

Don't buy live plants and expect them to live unless you have good flourescent lighting.

Fish don't need to be fed every day, and overfeeding is usually more of a problem than under feeding.  I feed mine about 2x per week.

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2014, 07:30:12 AM »
RE water changes - if you have houseplants this is great for them, full of nutrients - but don't over-fertilize.

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2014, 10:09:14 AM »
I had a free goldfish who lived in a basic fishbowl. No filtration, me and my mom cleaned the bowl when it looked dirty. I don't think you could leave it for a week, it will need food, but there might be some mechanism or feeder that would work. its name was Goldie of course. Easiest to care for pet I ever had.

Johnez

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2014, 01:56:00 PM »
Research the nitrogen cycle. I've never had fish, but am actually researching currently for my tank. Gold fish seem to be the hardiest and longest lasting (reports of 25 year old gold fish!), and do not require as much temperature maintenance. They do require cleaned tanks and water changes, these are notorious mess makers and plant killers.

Many people around me have bragged about keeping a fish 1 or 2 years in a tiny tank with little cleaning. With basic research tho you will read why gold fish need larger tanks (20 first fish, add 10 gallons for each). A goldfish can live much longer than a year or 2 with proper care. With a kid, I'd involve them as much as possible, this is a great way to encourage their curiosity and foster responsible attitudes toward life. Life ain't a simple, and neither is caring for a living creature.

Also it is highly inadvisable to "clean" an aquarium unless there is some circumstance. A tank needs its bacteria to break down the harmful waste a fish will produce, they need to be fostered. To avoid those dead first few fish Sol mentioned, go through the nitrogen cycle with your tank completely before adding your fish.

Also, there are fish keeping forums with people as fanatical about fish as we are about mustachianism.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2014, 02:13:13 PM by Johnez »

cdttmm

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2014, 04:30:48 PM »
Another recommendation for goldfish. They will live a long time if properly cared for -- my current goldfish are 10 years old.

As other posters have said: get a filter, don't overfeed them, don't worry about getting fancy with plants and other accoutrements.

Best part about goldfish -- they don't mind Mustachian temperatures in the winter. My tank is in a part of my house that is often only 58-60 degrees F in the winter. The fish don't seem to mind.

MayDay

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2014, 07:41:19 PM »
We checked things out at a pet store and talked to the fish dude. He said if we don't heat, our choice is goldfish or Betts (so same thing you guys are saying). Filters are about 14$ for what they had in the store, and they all use special cartridges that require monthly cartridge changes at 3$ each.

We ended up deciding that maybe a little Betta fish in a little tank with no filter was the way to go.  Still pondering that.


horsepoor

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2014, 10:07:03 PM »
We checked things out at a pet store and talked to the fish dude. He said if we don't heat, our choice is goldfish or Betts (so same thing you guys are saying). Filters are about 14$ for what they had in the store, and they all use special cartridges that require monthly cartridge changes at 3$ each.

We ended up deciding that maybe a little Betta fish in a little tank with no filter was the way to go.  Still pondering that.

That is bullshit.  Like the previous poster said, the biological cycle is what you need to worry about - not carbon or whatever other majickal filtration medium they'd like you to buy each month.  You just need something that lots of beneficial bacteria can set up camp in, where the water runs through and is adequately aerated so that they can do their work.  When the filter floss or whatever you're using gets too full of gunk, gently swish it in some of the old aquarium water when doing a water change, and place it back in the filter and it will work indefinitely.  All carbon does is remove coloration from the water, and maybe bind up some chemicals, but it does not process the fish waste, the biofilter does that.

Also, like I said before, guppies do fine at regular room temps.  If your house stays above 65 or so, fancy guppies should be fine too.

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2014, 07:58:26 AM »
Yes, guppies are great - they don't get big like goldfish do, they can take cooler water than Bettas, and they are interesting.  However, if you don't want babies, make sure you only get one sex!  Females are bigger, males are showier, and they look different so you can tell them apart before they are adults.  What about swordfish?  They are also neat.  So are angelfish - I have had all of these at one point or another.

neophyte

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2014, 10:07:02 AM »
I second research the nitrogen cycle and a filter will be your friend. Fish tanks can be a little pricier than you would expect to set up, but after the initial cost, fish food costs close to nothing in the amount that a few small fish will eat and other than that it's just electricity.   

My tanks have the hang on back filters. I like then cause they aren't as noisy. They are 'supposed' to get fancy filter inserts that you switch out.  But mine are full of aquarium safe foam.  When it gets gunky I just dip some water out of the aquarium and squeeze the sponge in that to get the gunk out. It's gross, but easy. Gunk-y water goes down the toilet, sponge goes back into the filter.  You don't want to clean the sponge in tap water because it could kill all the good bacteria in the sponge. Likewise, if you replace the filter cartridge every month like they say to, you are throwing out most of the good ammonia converting bacteria in your tank. You could probably use filter floss instead of foam, but it would be a bit messier.

I've got guppies. I started with 2 and now have....somewhere between 20 and 50.

Other than goldfish or white cloud minnows, an option that wouldn't need a heater would be red cherry shrimp. They are also pretty hardy but will reproduce.  With either guppies or shrimp, you could give them away on craigslist. People will take them to feed to bigger fish.

MayDay

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2014, 12:00:06 PM »
Do you guys have any specific filter brands to recommend?

To clarify, you are saying I buy the filter, but instead of getting a new one every month (and yes these were carbon filters) I just wash it out in old tank water when I put in fresh water.

I don't mind if they breed, if I can get people to take them to feed other pets.  As long as things don't get too out of hand! But we could get one guppy, one goldfish, and one red cherry shrimp. No babies, a little variety.

neophyte

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2014, 12:10:51 PM »
Do you guys have any specific filter brands to recommend?
Not really. Whatever I got off craigslist works for my tank at least.

Quote
To clarify, you are saying I buy the filter, but instead of getting a new one every month (and yes these were carbon filters) I just wash it out in old tank water when I put in fresh water.
Yep. I think that would be fine

Quote
I don't mind if they breed, if I can get people to take them to feed other pets.  As long as things don't get too out of hand! But we could get one guppy, one goldfish, and one red cherry shrimp. No babies, a little variety.
My female guppies are big enough to eat cherry shrimp, a goldfish would certainly get big enough. But you could mix guppies and goldfish.

MrsPete

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2014, 03:45:16 PM »
Goldfish and Beta fish don't require filtration, heating, etc.  They can live in a simple glass bowl. 

Goldfish die more easily, and they need their water changed more often . . . which gives a definite edge to the Beta fish. 

Johnez

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2014, 05:26:30 PM »
Goldfish and Beta fish don't require filtration, heating, etc.  They can live in a simple glass bowl. 

Goldfish die more easily, and they need their water changed more often . . . which gives a definite edge to the Beta fish.

Goldfish in a bowl is a bad idea.

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OP, this is a mustache forum-I would seriously consider reading blogs and joining a fish keeper forum before getting the fish, or any equipment. There's a lot to read, more than people can advise you in a few days here.  Some advise here is good, but you need the whole picture.

MGeegs

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2014, 06:07:32 PM »
Woah slow it down, I hate to be "that guy" but this thread is terrifying.

No goldfish in 10-gallon tanks, OK? They are messy fish that will eventually get very big. They will poison the water and die a slow painful death, which is seen as normal, so if you wanted to go that route then go for it but at least know what you are doing to the animal.

You know that myth that fish grow to the size of their tank? That happens because they get too big for their living space, crash the water quality, stunt their own growth and die. Therefore, they never get very big.

Betta fish do not live 1-2 years; they live 5-6. If your betta lived one year and then died, it's because you didn't take proper care of it. Sorry. They do need filters and heaters (bettas are a tropical fish). They need more than a bowl. 3 gallons minimum please.

You'll need to test your water quality, or have the pet shop do it for you. You do need to use water conditioner. Yes I know people are saying they didn't use it and their fish were fine, but I'm not sure they understood what it was for, and I am sure they were causing their animals pain.

Honestly, I recently set up a fish tank (29 litres, 1 betta, heavily planted, heater, filter, ferts and water changes 2x per week with feedings 2x per day) and I think they are messy, difficult pets that require basic chemistry knowledge and are not that great for young children to manage by themselves. The reason they are seen as 'basic', 'hardy', 'low maintenance' is because people buy them expecting them to die. Pet fish are almost disposable.

/end rant

sol

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2014, 06:59:28 PM »
Woah slow it down, I hate to be "that guy" but this thread is terrifying.

While all of this rant is technically correct, I think it sort of overlooks the primary point.  That being that yes, pet fish are often disposable.

There is much information on the internet about "causing your fish pain" if you don't care for them properly or give them enough space, but I suspect much of that information comes from pet stores that really want to sell you $200 worth of equipment to keep a 25 cent fish alive.  From a purely economical perspective, it makes more sense to put the 25 cent fish in a bowl and then buy a new fish every two weeks when it dies.  And the animal cruelty angle doesn't really carry much weight with me unless you are a strict vegetarian.  Every piece of bacon you've ever eaten caused more pain and suffering than shortening a goldfish's lifespan.

Do I advocate torturing fish?  No, of course not.  But nothing you do to your home aquarium will be as cruel as skewering the fish's face with a barbed metal hook and then whacking it on a rock so you can cut up its body for dinner.  And lots of folks here do that for fun.

This is a fish, not a puppy.

My fish have a fancy canister filter and two heaters and fancy grow lights and a tank heavily planted with plants from their native habitat, in 55 gallons for 15 total inches of fish.  But this setup is expensive and requires regular maintenance and is not the "cheapest, easiest way to have" a disposable pet.

MgoSam

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2014, 07:20:37 PM »
I don't know about it living on a week without food, but betta's in a 1 gallon bowl are cheap and easy. Can't keep more than one male in a tank (super aggressive), and just gotta feed them occassionally and clean the tank once in a while.

MGeegs

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2014, 09:05:49 PM »
@sol

Sure, I get your points too. I guess the question should have warned me off the thread - I don't take on an animals life thinking about the "cheapest, easiest" way to look after it; If I'm choosing that responsibility, I want to look after it the BEST way (or at least in a way that's not cruel i.e. betta bowls).

But I should remember that not everyone thinks like that.

OP: The cheapest and easiest way would be to fill the tank with water and put a fish in it and never do anything again

sol

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2014, 10:41:48 PM »
@sol

Sure, I get your points too. I guess the question should have warned me off the thread

No worries, I had much the same reaction you did at first but was trying to be helpful to the OP rather than inflicting personal values.  If you don't mind regularly killing fish, then suddenly they get much easier to keep as pets.

Quote
OP: The cheapest and easiest way would be to fill the tank with water and put a fish in it and never do anything again

That fish is guaranteed to die in short order, but maybe that's the point.  If we're talking about creating a learning experience for a 7 year old, then maybe killing a fish when the kid isn't responsible enough to keep it alive is the desired outcome.  Goldfish death may be the first time a kid ever really faces death, and it provides an opportunity to introduce larger concepts in a very relatable context.

At the very least, it doesn't seem any more senselessly cruel than serving the kid a bacon cheeseburger without even bothering to explain what had to happen to what kinds of animals to make that tasty treat.

Johnez

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2014, 05:58:48 AM »
Woah slow it down, I hate to be "that guy" but this thread is terrifying.

No goldfish in 10-gallon tanks, OK? They are messy fish that will eventually get very big. They will poison the water and die a slow painful death, which is seen as normal, so if you wanted to go that route then go for it but at least know what you are doing to the animal.

You know that myth that fish grow to the size of their tank? That happens because they get too big for their living space, crash the water quality, stunt their own growth and die. Therefore, they never get very big.

Betta fish do not live 1-2 years; they live 5-6. If your betta lived one year and then died, it's because you didn't take proper care of it. Sorry. They do need filters and heaters (bettas are a tropical fish). They need more than a bowl. 3 gallons minimum please.

You'll need to test your water quality, or have the pet shop do it for you. You do need to use water conditioner. Yes I know people are saying they didn't use it and their fish were fine, but I'm not sure they understood what it was for, and I am sure they were causing their animals pain.

Honestly, I recently set up a fish tank (29 litres, 1 betta, heavily planted, heater, filter, ferts and water changes 2x per week with feedings 2x per day) and I think they are messy, difficult pets that require basic chemistry knowledge and are not that great for young children to manage by themselves. The reason they are seen as 'basic', 'hardy', 'low maintenance' is because people buy them expecting them to die. Pet fish are almost disposable.

/end rant

Applause.  Where is the hand clap smilie for this guy?

I've been researching for literally YEARS and haven't gotten the tank yet.  Mostly because of money and stability issues, but still I decided to do research before herp derping and dropping a fish in a bowl.  I didn't really dig the flippant attitude that people have regarding fish, glad someone else was "that guy."  Right the fuck on man.

RetiredAt63

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #30 on: September 15, 2014, 07:48:37 AM »
+1

The common rationale for having pets where children are involved is to teach them responsibility.  Thinking of fish as disposable is certainly not teaching that!

I personally have never seen the appeal of fish as children's pets.  They are not cuddly.  Some of the small rodents are nice pets if well socialized, the cage is not more expensive, the food and bedding cost a bit, and they can be played with (carefully).  And they do not live a long time even while well cared for.

Just to note, the Canadian Council on Animal Care requires the same level of care for all vertebrates.  Including fish.  And also squid and octopus, because of their well developed nervous systems.  Just saying.

Woah slow it down, I hate to be "that guy" but this thread is terrifying.

No goldfish in 10-gallon tanks, OK? They are messy fish that will eventually get very big. They will poison the water and die a slow painful death, which is seen as normal, so if you wanted to go that route then go for it but at least know what you are doing to the animal.

You know that myth that fish grow to the size of their tank? That happens because they get too big for their living space, crash the water quality, stunt their own growth and die. Therefore, they never get very big.

Betta fish do not live 1-2 years; they live 5-6. If your betta lived one year and then died, it's because you didn't take proper care of it. Sorry. They do need filters and heaters (bettas are a tropical fish). They need more than a bowl. 3 gallons minimum please.

You'll need to test your water quality, or have the pet shop do it for you. You do need to use water conditioner. Yes I know people are saying they didn't use it and their fish were fine, but I'm not sure they understood what it was for, and I am sure they were causing their animals pain.

Honestly, I recently set up a fish tank (29 litres, 1 betta, heavily planted, heater, filter, ferts and water changes 2x per week with feedings 2x per day) and I think they are messy, difficult pets that require basic chemistry knowledge and are not that great for young children to manage by themselves. The reason they are seen as 'basic', 'hardy', 'low maintenance' is because people buy them expecting them to die. Pet fish are almost disposable.

/end rant

Applause.  Where is the hand clap smilie for this guy?

I've been researching for literally YEARS and haven't gotten the tank yet.  Mostly because of money and stability issues, but still I decided to do research before herp derping and dropping a fish in a bowl.  I didn't really dig the flippant attitude that people have regarding fish, glad someone else was "that guy."  Right the fuck on man.

chemgeek

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2014, 08:38:34 AM »
I'm on Board with MGeegs.  I have one betta in a 10 gallon tank with a heater and filter (though it has a large fake rock wall so the actual volume is less). When we moved I bought a small 1 gallon "betta bowl" to make moving easier. There is a noticeable difference in the behavior of the fish when it's in crammed quarters vs. when it has room to move. Betta fish are actually pretty curious and active. They'll swim about and fluff their fins (males especially), and interact with people that approach the tank, which is great for kids.

The initial cost to set up the tank seemed steep to me ( I probably spent $100-120 on the 10 gallon tank kit with heater, filter, light, gravel, and lots of plants) but after that the costs have been nil. I periodically scrape algae off the sides of the tank and maybe once every couple months do a full aquarium cleaning if things look too grimey. Very low maintenance as far as pets go. I have no idea how old the fish was when we got him, but we just passed the 2 year mark of having him.

Tl;DR: you can technically keep bettas in tiny bowls, but the fish will be stressed and not as active, and it seems kind of mean personally. 

MayDay

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2014, 10:02:56 AM »
We have abandoned the idea of a beta because my googling told me we would need a heater for them to be healthy.  I don't want to be cruel, but I also don't care all that much about making the environment perfect for maximum longevity.  I am going for good enough.

So if a goldfish will get too big and thus it will be cruel, can I get a fancy guppy, or will it get too big?

I was planning on getting the water conditioner.  The pet store had fish feeding contraptions, so that will work for vacations (I would rather avoid the bother of having someone coming in and out of our house, and the tank will be too heavy to move). 

Back to the goldfish, my dad has an outdoor ornamental pond with goldfish, what if we got a goldfish and sent it to live in the pond when it gets bigger? 

I am shying away from furry rodents because I had one as a kid, and I remember how much the little boogers bit, and how nasty it was to clean their cages.  But the fish are sounding more and more complicated, so I am getting close to abandoning the whole idea of a pet at all. 

sol

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2014, 10:32:32 AM »
A single goldfish won't get too big for a 20 gallon tank.  At least not for many years.

Yes, you could get two or three male guppies in a 10 gallon tank. 

horsepoor

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #34 on: September 15, 2014, 11:32:08 AM »
Male guppies stay small.  You could easily do a nice school of several guppies in a 10 gallon tank.  Just start out with a couple to get the biological filter cycle going, and then add later.  Once the nitrogen cycle is in place, the bacteria can respond quickly to the added bioload of additional fish.  This is a good learning opportunity for kids too, along with learning that different fish have different requirements.  You could do like 5 guppies, then if your child is enjoying it, and would like more variety later, you could add a heater and that opens up the possibilities for a variety of small tropical fish. 

Louisville

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2014, 11:41:01 AM »
Free admission day at an aquarium?

neophyte

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #36 on: September 15, 2014, 12:02:31 PM »
FWIW, an aquarium heater isn't a very big deal. They cost about $20 for a small tank and you pretty much set it and forget it.  I only run mine in the winter.   

MayDay

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #37 on: September 30, 2014, 03:20:45 PM »
Update:

Ten gallon aquarium with some rocks, a fake plant, and a starfish statue was purchased as a birthday gift. DS (7) loved it.  We picked out one male guppy, orange in color, named Clementine.  Clementine hardly ate (didn't make a dent in a flake of food, then it would sink to the bottom, ick).

My dad got a few bubblers and a filter for DS, we run them a few hours a day but not constantly. 

We threw in some colored rocks for more decoration, and clementine started acting odd, laying on the bottom a lot of the time.  Tested water, all seemed fine.  Nitrates and nitrites were zero.

A week later we got a second male guppy, Polka Dot.  This one spends the entire day looking at his reflection in the glass.  Not a very smart fish.  Also does not seem to eat.  Maybe they are eating the sunken flakes later when we aren't watching?

Now the big update, today Clementine went missing.  I don't see him on the floor around the tank (and tank has a lid anyway).  I looked everywhere, picking up and moving things.  I emptied out the filter, not stuck in there.  So where is the dang fish? 

sol

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #38 on: September 30, 2014, 05:05:34 PM »
I've lost fish before too.  It happens.  They find all kinds of places to hide, usually related to the filter or tubing.    Also possible somebody removed his lifeless corpse and isn't fessing up.

chemgeek

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #39 on: October 01, 2014, 08:29:57 AM »
I would check  around the floor again ( or in anything close to the tank). I've read of fish ( guppies especially) jumping out of tanks through holes in the back or getting into the filter and somehow getting externally airborne that way. You'd be surprised. If it jumped out and died, it probably dried up and would be easy to miss on a first pass. Alternatively (and grossly), is it possible Clementine died and the Polka Dot ate him?

MayDay

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #40 on: October 01, 2014, 04:17:37 PM »
Ok, you guys are making me feel better.  I kept asking myself "self, how can you lose a fish?  It can't run away out the door like a dog or cat, it has to be around here somewhere!!!!". 

I will more thoroughly check the floor and also look in tubing, etc (never thought of that one).

Polka Dot is slightly larger than Clementine.  I seriously doubt he could have eaten him.  But I guess all things are possible. 

clifp

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #41 on: October 01, 2014, 04:49:36 PM »
I got my first aquarium when I was about 9 or 10 so a couple of year older than your daughter.  Which turned into a hobby, and helped me get my favorite job as teenager working at a pet store. 
As an adult I went a bit nuts and ended up have 3 55+ gallon tanks and 3 20 gallons.  I gave up the hobby when I moved to Hawaii, the place is a big aquarium.

For me a kid more than 1/2 the fun of having fish was watching babies.  So I think you should consider getting another male and 2 females.  It is also the good basis for a sex ed talk etc.   But the biggest advantage was it makes the inevitable disappearance of Clementine, a lot easier for a kid, because little Susie, Joey, and Stripy are still in the tank.. 

It is possible to get over run by guppies, but there are easy ways of solving the problem. A single bigger fish like a swordtail or an Angel enjoy feasting on baby guppies.  You also maybe able to trade in excess guppies to the fish store for things like fish food, decorations or whatever.

Fish definitely eat dead fish so its like Clementine is just bones which is hard to spot in an aquarium.

genselecus

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Re: What is the cheapest, easiest way to have a pet fish?
« Reply #42 on: October 01, 2014, 04:54:22 PM »
I love your updates on the fish. I found the initial posts in this thread interesting enough to keep reading, and am so glad that I did!

I have nothing to add, never had a fish or anything. Just really enjoyed your updates. Hilarious! (not to sound cruel about fish dying/disappearing)