Q: SM wrote,
My 7 year old son has been asking for a pet and my husband and I have agreed to a small aquarium. After doing some research it seems like a betta might be the best way to go. They’re easy to care for and I like the way they look. Can you recommend a start up aquarium kit? I anticipate that I will care for the fish mainly but I’d like to use the betta as a way to teach responsibility to my son so that he can graduate to a larger, possibly furry creature.
A: An aquarium is wonderful teaching tool for both children and adults and I’m sure that you will be able to find one that suits your needs perfectly. Assuming this is your first betta tank I recommend the Eclipse 6 made by Marineland. It’s a 6 gallon acrylic tank that comes with a filter and light hood. They do come in a smaller 3 gallon size but smaller tanks do take more work to maintain. This is a very popular aquarium kit and can be found at just about any chain store that sells aquarium supplies including PetCo, PetSmart and Target. You may want to look online for a deal because the price can range from $59 – $100. The only extras that are needed for this kit are a tank heater, substrate, decorations, thermometer and a air stone if you want it. Of course there are other items needed for regular care including food, water conditioner, nets, siphon and water test kits.
There are lots of ways to involve your son. At seven years old you can teach him all about bettas including where they are found in nature and betta anatomy (ventral fins, pectoral fins, swim bladder, gills, etc). He can help you to read the temperature each day and of course feed the fish. It will still be up to you to clean the tank weekly and test the water but as your son grows older he can take on more responsibilities.
Here’s a link to The Parents Corner, an article I wrote to help parents involve their children in caring for their bettas. I also suggest reading over Tank Cycling: The Fishless Method before you buy your fish.