Thanks to PetSmart for sponsoring today’s post! All opinions are my own.
Parents! Here’s Why Fish Make Great First Pets!
“Mom? Dad? Can we get a pet? Please, please, please?”
Chances are if you have a young child, you have heard these words many times now. And why not? A pet is a fabulous, hands-on way for children to interact with nature as well as learn many important life skills and lessons that they will take with them throughout their entire life.
If you are not quite ready to entrust the care of a cat or dog to your child, consider the fact that a friend with fins is a great way to introduce your kid to the world of pets. As a mom and teacher, I know this firsthand!
Our son was a mere five years old when he began asking for a pet. Since we didn’t feel he was ready for a dog or cat of his own, we compromised with a fish. It turned out to be a wonderful learning experience, not only providing a unique way to inspire him to learn about the world around him but also teaching him many valuable lessons.
Below are just a few of the lessons he learned, and your child can learn too!
Onoe of the best reasons why fish make great first pets is responsibility. Having a fish comes with responsibility. Like all pets, fish require food, a clean living environment and attention. Having a child feed his fish daily, changing out the water when needed, and keeping the tank clean helps to instill a sense of responsibility and ownership.
Likewise, those daily feeding and regular water changes and tank cleanings will quickly teach a child about routine. They also learn that although less demanding than cats or dogs, fish still need regular care. To help them follow these routines, keep a simple calendar on which you mark feeding times and the times to rotate the tank water and clean the tank.
3. Math Skills
From the initial set up of the aquarium to the daily care of the fish, the opportunity is there to help teach some valuable math skills. When you first add water to the tank, start a discussion about counting and basic measurements. For example, we had our son count how many cups of water it took to fill a gallon pitcher and how many full pitchers it took to fill the tank. In addition, the daily measuring of the correct amount of food is another good math lesson.
4. Science Skills
As a child cares for a fish, they are constantly observing how that fish lives in its own unique, underwater world. They learn to appreciate an animal they can’t easily interact with in nature. We would read books about different types of fish (especially the one we had), as well as discuss the differences in our environment compared to the environment the fish lived in. The chemicals used to condition the water before adding the fish also provide a chance to teach some important science information.
5. Social and Behavioral Skills
Another reason fish make great first pets is that by watching how fish react to different stimuli children begin to see how their behavior and actions directly affects others. For example, many fish will dart away and hide if there is a lot of movement in front of their tank. Another example: multiple fish in a tank provide opportunities for a child to learn about social behavior in animals like how the fish get along and interact with each other.
6. Love and Compassion
Caring for their own pet provides an invaluable lesson about love, caring, and compassion and what it means to take care of another living creature. Even fish can get sick, and if that happens, your child can learn how to nurse it back to health.
Tips for Choosing a First Fish
When ready, allow your child to select the fish, the fish food, the aquarium, the aquarium décor, and where to put the aquarium. This will help them realize that this is their pet and largely their responsibility. Be there to guide them through the process but let them learn through the selection and buying process as well.
PetSmart carries a great selection of fish, fish accessories and aquarium kits that include everything you need to get started! Beautiful, colored fish like Bettas and GloFish provide hours of fascination and entertainment for kids and families alike.
In choosing the type of fish, keep in mind that kids can be forgetful, irresponsible and even a bit overzealous at times. So even with them overseeing the care of their little creature, be sure to check in here and there to make sure there hasn’t been too much overfeeding or underfeeding, infrequent water changes, and so on.
Overall, remember that although this is your child’s pet and they hold a large part of the responsibility, be there when your child looks to you to provide guidance and advice on the proper way to care for their new friend.
If your child is begging for a pet of their own, give them a glimpse into the beautiful world of fish!
What kind of fish would you like to get for your child’s first?