Student-friendly pets, in a fishbowl

Requiring much less time, attention and effort than, say, a dog or a cat, keeping a fish is a low-maintenance option for a pet while in post-secondary education.

Though students in residence are not permitted to keep pets of any sort in their dorms, there are some who believe that low-maintenance, low-risk aquariums should be allowed.

“They could let us have something that doesn’t make a mess or destroy stuff, like fish or geckos,” said Mitchell Johnson, who lives in SAIT residence.

“I think as long as it can be monitored and checked on, that would be fine.”

Hope Lewis, who is from a farm in British Columbia, agreed that students should be allowed small, low-maintenance animals in residence.

“I think they should absolutely allow fish if anything,” said Lewis.

“There’s not many things that could go wrong with a fish, and maybe certain people could be allowed a cat, but I think anything else could be worrisome in case they got out and such.”

Most aquariums need little more than feeding once per day and weekly water change. This makes fish an ideal choice for students with busy lifestyles who still want to come home to a pet at the end of the day.

“If you’re just starting out, get as large a tank as you can, especially if you’re looking into saltwater,” said Benjamin Lucas, owner of Benjamin’s Aquarium Services, a local aquarium construction and maintenance company.

“It gives you so many more options as to what you can put in a tank, as well as it makes maintenance a lot easier, believe it or not,” said Lucas.

Saltwater aquariums tend to require a significant investment right off the bat, which may not be feasible for many students. Starting up a freshwater tank tends to be a much more affordable option.

Freshwater fish range greatly in size and care requirements, from two-inch-long guppies in a simple desktop tank, to arowanas between three and five feet, requiring several hundred gallons of water to house properly.

Lucas said some of the most interesting builds he has set up for clients include a seven-foot tank built into a wall that is only eight inches wide for micro-fish, and a massive paludarium, a tank combining terrestrial and aquatic elements, to house monster fish such as gar, bichirs, eels and arowanas.

“There are so many crazy things in the hobby, and nothing like unwinding and watching a little piece of the world that you’ve put together,” said Lucas.

For students living in the city, be it on their own or at home, often times their options are much more liberal than of those in residence.

Some other easily housed animals for those who have the option may include toads, frogs, lizards, snakes and the odd furry things, such as hamsters.

For more information on Benjamin’s Aquarium Services, go tot

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