The age-old goldfish bowl is getting competition from tiny aquariums in a variety of interesting shapes and sizes. Even the smallest apartment or college dorm room can now be graced with live fish. But are they a healthy habitat for the fish? If properly set up and well cared for, yes they can be. If haphazardly put together and marginally cared for, the fish will be doomed to a very short and unpleasant life.
The Good Side
The good side of mini aquariums is that anyone can have one. The monetary investment is small, and the space requirements so minimal that virtually everyone can find a place for one. College students in dorms, nursing home patients, apartment dwellers, even the most crowded of school classrooms all have space for a mini aquarium. Often apartment building ‘no pet’ rules don’t apply to fish. Fish are very relaxing to watch, and can provide an opportunity for children to care for a pet in situations where larger pets are not allowed.
The Bad Side
Mini aquariums do require maintenance, and should not be purchased with the notion they can be ignored for long periods of time. However, the biggest down side of small aquariums is that problems can occur swiftly, and are often fatal before they can be rectified. This is due to the small volume of water in which the fish live. Changes in water chemistry and temperature can happen in a matter of a few hours – or even minutes. Therefore it is critical to monitor the water conditions closely, and perform water changes faithfully.
First time fish owners should be particularly careful during the initial break-in stage of the mini fish tank. Toxins in the water will rise sharply as the biological system is first being established. If water changes are not performed, the levels will become lethal very quickly. Testing is a must, so have water-testing kits on hand or make arrangements with a local pet shop to do the tests for you.