Once upon a time, an unusually witty and undeniably charismatic, man named Tristan found himself staring into the eccentric fishbowl of life. No, it’s a literal fishbowl. This dimpled glass sphere plastered with algae murals and flakes of past dinners became his unexpected emotional anchor. And thus begins Tristan’s tale of turmoil and triumph in the wet and wild world of pet fish care.

Like Scuba Steve from Big Daddy, diving into unfamiliar waters can be an uphill swim; the fins get picky, the scales get sketchy, and the bubbles get bubbly. It’s a weighty endeavor, but don’t worry about carp about it. You heard me right: you are about to embark on a journey into the gobsmacking, gill-slapping world of pet fish care.

Let’s start at the bottom, quite literally. You see, dear readers, life at the bottom of the fish tank is not so different from life on land. Fish, too, get tired of swimming sometimes, so providing a base is essential–unless you’re Aquaman, I don’t think that needs explanation. Bottom means substrate: sand, gravel, or pebbles; take your pick. However, some fish have inherent ‘pebbles,’ so go easy on them.

Then there’s temperature control. Balancing a fish tank’s temperature can make a nuclear physicist squeal for his mommy. Under normal circumstances, you’d target about 70-80°F but do read up on your fish type. Like some of us fancy a beach vacation over a ski trip, some fish prefer different temperatures. Tropical fish, for instance, won’t thrive in Alaskan waters unless they’re part Polar Bear. There are no global warming debates here, folks.

Next on the list, probably the most spectacular part–the decorations. The decorations in a fish tank serve as much more than Instagrammable corners for our marine counterparts. They act as hiding spots, breeding grounds, and many others. So choose wisely–a tacky mermaid statue might amuse you, but watch out for a revolt in the aquatic kingdom!

pet fish care and best tips

pet fish care and best tips

Let’s trim down to the topic of fish food. The underwater residents are not into haute cuisine or even the pioneer woman’s latest dish. Their culinary needs are simple–keep the scales tipped towards quality fish flakes and occasional treats like bloodworms. A fish might have a three-second memory, but you don’t want to be remembered as the mediocre meal supplier, do you?

A word on lighting: fish need sleep, too! Too much light and you run into algae blooms; too little, and your pets morph into nighttime dwellers, like aquatic vampires. A few plants can help maintain that balance; your fish will love them; it adds a little ‘Finding Nemo’ vibe.

Now, who’s going to talk about the elephant in the room? Or rather, the crap in the tank? Yes, people and fish deal their dirt like everyone else. Filters help, but nothing beats some good old-fashioned manual labor. It’s not enough to coax your fish to be potty trained; we’ve tried. It doesn’t work. Believe me.

Strolling through pet stores, you may goggle at a wall of fish medicines. Do you need all that for your fish? Probably not. Then again, you don’t want to play fast and loose with Ich or fin rot. Like Sheldon’s infamous “Soft Kitty” song, some preventative care can avoid mournful dirges later.

Despite these trials and tribulations, fish are fantastic pets. They might not fetch your slippers or curl on your lap (if they do, please get in touch with a vet immediately), but they have a peaceful charm that soothes and intrigues simultaneously.

As I wrap up this wild aquatic expedition, I bequeath you all the responsibility to care for your gilled pets in high spirits and perhaps even more increased hydration. Remember, while sharing sushi with your pet fish might sound like the punchline of the century, it’s good to remember that “fish are friends, not food.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, do your snorkeling masks, prime your fishnets (no, not the stockings), and get ready for this incredible adventure of pet fish care. Happy bubbling! Now, if you could find Nemo, that would be a bonus.