Many people who meet me – without knowing I own a small aquatics business – always ask the same thing: “Why do you keep fish?” How many of you shortly after meeting somebody with ‘normal’ pets immediately ask “Why do you keep dogs?”, or “Why do you keep cats?”. What’s even more annoying is I get asked why do I keep fish more than my friends who keep snakes, or bearded dragons – and although one in ten households in the UK keep fish, it still comes as a surprise and fills people with amazement when you say you’ve got a tropical fish tank. – Even more so when you say you’ve got three, “one in the lounge, one on the kitchen side, and one in the bedroom”. I daren’t mention that I want one in the bathroom for fear ridicule and being called weird.
Having taken a couple of days continuously thinking about this question it seems it simply just raises more questions for me.
I guess there’s lots of reasons why one might keep fish. They’re fun. They’re quiet. You don’t have to walk them. You don’t have to play fetch. You don’t have to remember to feed them every day (no, seriously – there are numerous reasons why you shouldn’t feed them every day). They also don’t bark and annoy the neighbors every time you go out, sh!t on the floor whenever you turn your back, or jump up and piss on every visitor you welcome through your front door out of sheer excitement. Well I guess that’s just a few reasons.
Personally I don’t know why I keep fish. I always used to love going to garden centers when I was younger and I’d disappear within a minute of walking through the door and my mother would always collect me from the tropical fish displays on her way out. They fascinated me. We had a large coldwater tank in my primary school which I found amazing, and I used to love going to the doctors when I was younger where I’d sit on the floor in front of the fish tank while waiting to be called into my appointment.
Like many children, my first fish came from the fair. I named him Fishy. He was lonely, so we took the next inevitable step of buying him some friends. Now I sit here writing this while gazing at my 6 foot tank and wondering where I’m going to put it when I get my 9 foot one.
I think the real reasons I keep fish is just as a dog brings joy to the dog owner, and a cat brings joy to a cat owner, my fish do indeed bring joy to me. I can sit for ages gazing into the tank and watching each fish interact with the other fish in the tank, and I love watching them forage for food along the bottom and in the plants, and the excitement at feeding time (and damn, why are they always hungry?!). They are incredibly relaxing to watch, and they do wonders in reducing my stress levels (just like every pet should).
I couldn’t imagine my life without my fish now (or ever).
So I guess that’s my story. Why do you keep fish? How long have you kept fish? What do your fish mean to you?