Are Fish Tanks Cruel or Ethical? In-Depth Research.

Pets have become an important part of our lives. But before deciding to get a pet you must think of all the things you will be responsible for.

Today we will talk about fish and whether it is humane to keep fish as pets.

Are Fish Tanks Cruel?

Fish tanks are cruel and ethical at the same time. If you take proper care of your aquarium and feed your fish with good-quality food, then there is nothing wrong with keeping fish in the aquarium. But if you want to save money on your fish as much as possible, then you must not even get a pet because such treatment can make their life miserable.

A fish tank is only cruel when you do not change the water regularly or when it is so small that you can barely pour a cup of water there.

Is Having a Fish Tank/Aquarium Ethical?

We recommend reading the Animal Welfare Institute’s research on Ethical and Ecological Implications of Keeping Fish in Captivity

But let’s dive into this a bit deeper. Today we have prepared the answers to the most common questions people ask about fish. By the way, if you now have decided to finally get a fish tank, read my article on where you should place your fishtank. 

Do Fish Get Bored Living in a Tank?

Fish, unlike people, do not have emotions, so fish a priori cannot get bored in a fish tank. But it is also not very reasonable to keep just one fish in the tank. You should buy at least two so that they could communicate. But do not buy too many fish as they can start “fighting” for their territory.

Do Fish Like Being in Tanks?

Again, fish cannot like or dislike being in tanks because they do not have these complex emotions. But from the point of ethics fish will only be comfortable in such a tank that fully is appropriate to them.

  • The fish tank must be of the proper size, first of all. Secondly, you need to make sure the fish tank has all the necessary parameters for a particular type of fish. Some fish need more light, some less, some fish require more space, some less.
  • Fish will like their life in the aquarium when they have as many plants as they need.
    Remember, that some fish, like Betta (Siamese fighting fish) prefers the environment that has a lot of plants, so depriving the poor fish of plants is cruel and will make their life miserable.
  • Another important aspect of keeping your fish happy in a fish tank is knowing whether your fish need some additional equipment.

    Kuhli loach fish, for example, is very shy and it will not be humane to keep them in a tank where they cannot hide.

So, we agreed that to make sure your fish is not “sad” in the fish tank we must take proper care of this aquarium. Let’s dive into some basic, but very important tips on how to maintain the fish tank.

How Hard Is It to Maintain a Fish Tank?

It is not very hard to maintain a fish tank if you do this on a regular basis. You must realize that you are responsible for your pets — whether it is a cat, a dog, a hamster or a fish!

You cannot decide to get fish today and immediately run to the shop and buy everything they have there. You must devote your precious time to doing thorough research on what types of fish can coexist together, how much space they need and what food and plants they require. This is crucial to think whether you are ready to have fish as pets because once you’ve got them, there is no turning back.

We advise you to watch YouTube videos on what to know before buying fish, aquariums and all these fish tanks’ accessories. The world makes you want to buy things, but you need to find this happy medium when deciding what to buy. You do not need to pay thousands to keep your fish healthy and happy.

Things To Know Before Buying Your First Fish Tank

How Do I Make My Fish Tank Water Crystal Clear?

  • Wash your fish tank properly. The aquarium should be washed in three stages.

First, just rinse it with running water until it is crystal clear;
Then rinse it again, but not with water, but with a solution of potassium permanganate or salt;
And then rinse it again with clean running water for the final time.

How To Clean A Fish Tank

  • Pay special attention to the fish tank’s bottom. To design the bottom of the aquarium, it is best to purchase a special aquarium primer which sold in pet stores.

Inexperienced fish owners often put ordinary pebbles or stones in the aquarium, which can subsequently release harmful substances, which is very dangerous for fish.

If you still want to decorate the aquarium with collected pebbles (shells or other elements), rinse them thoroughly, and even better boil, but do not forget that shells can increase water hardness and not all types of fish like this.

If you want to use sand for your fish tank’s bottom, be sure to examine the sand thoroughly, removing all dirt, pebbles, etc. (you should get clean, uniform sand), rinse it in running water until the water becomes completely clear, then boil and again rinse with running water.

  • Choosing the right lighting. Fish and plants love light, and there must be eternal summer in your aquarium. However, you should avoid direct sunlight in the aquarium as this can cause water to bloom.

When choosing lamps for your fish tank, you should always opt for fluorescent and LED lamps. They are usually placed above the aquarium must be covered with reflectors.

As for the lamp power, the calculation is as follows: 10-15 watts/per 10 litres of water with a lateral arrangement of the lamp. If the lamp is located above the aquarium, add another 20% of the power.

Some aquarists use special underwater lights as decorative lighting.

How I Light My Aquariums — Cheap and Easy Way

  • Should I heat the fish tank? Yes, you have to heat the fish tank because you should always control the temperature in the aquarium, as temperature fluctuations negatively affect the fish. If you notice that the water in your aquarium is getting colder than 18 °C, use additional heating.

The optimum temperature for most tropical aquarium fish is 25C, for goldfish 21 degrees are enough, and the discus needs a temperature closer to 30C.

Special aquarium heaters will help you maintain an optimal temperature in the aquarium, most of them are equipped with a special temperature regulator that turns off the heating when it reaches the set temperature.

  • Put different plants in your aquarium. Plants saturate the water with oxygen and can be a good meal for your fish, also plants help keep the water clean.

In the beginning, it is better to use standard, “undemanding” plants such as Ceratopteris Fern, Vallisneria, Hygrophila, Cabomba, Sagittarii.

Then as you become more experienced, you can buy other plants as well.

Beginners Guide to Aquatic Plants: How to Keep Plants in Your Fish Tank

  • Cover the aquarium with a special lid. After you fill the aquarium with water, cover it with a lid. This will not allow dust to get to the surface of the water and will prevent the appearance of the muddy layer above the water. Also, it is very useful in case the fish try to jump out of the aquarium.

In the past, the aquarium was covered with ordinary glass, which was not entirely safe. When feeding fish and replacing water, the loose glass could easily break.

With the help of special covers for the aquarium, these problems can be easily solved — they have holes for air, feeding, wires of the aquarium equipment. When replacing water, the cover can be folded up which is quite convenient.

  • Water purity. After you have poured water into the aquarium, it must be there for a couple of days before you can invite your fish in there. If you want to speed up the process, it is necessary to use special conditioners for water. You can buy them at any pet store, in the aquarium department.

When you have just poured fresh water into the aquarium, the aquarium seems crystal clear and very beautiful. However, after a couple of days, you will notice that the water becomes a bit muddy. Do not worry, this is normal, as the water changes due to bacteria multiplying.

After a few more days, the water will again become almost transparent and take on a slightly yellowish tint. In the future, when the aquarium is already inhabited by fish, you will have to renew the water about once every 10 days. You must NEVER renew all the water in the aquarium; only 1/3 of all the water in the aquarium should be changed.

  • Proper feeding. Proper feeding is an essential part of your aquarium’s cleanliness.
    Many beginners, unfortunately, overfeed their fish, believing that it is better to overfeed than to leave pets hungry. In fact, everything is quite the opposite.

In nature, fish are often malnourished, so mild malnutrition is normal for them. But uneaten food, which will swim in the water or lie at the bottom of the aquarium, contributes to water pollution and poor fish health.

What To Feed Your Fish, The Ultimate Guide To Your First Aquarium

As a rule, we recommend feeding the fish once a day with such an amount of food that the fish will eat in the next 5 minutes. If you see that the food has remained uneaten, remove it from the aquarium if possible.

In the future, you will better understand the needs of your fish and develop an optimal feeding schedule.

  • Does aquarium need a filter? Yes, you need to get a fish tank filter. Pet shops offer a huge selection of filters for aquariums. If you have a small tank,  an internal filter will be enough for you.

For aquariums larger than 60 litres it is advisable to purchase an external filter since the volume of filter materials in it is much larger, it is more powerful and can pump a larger volume of water.


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