Pre-School and Daycare

Easy pet for a PS'er???

DS started asking for an aquarium a couple of years ago, and we told him that he had to wait until he was at least 4yo and big enough to help take care of it even if the "help" was minimal (ex. understanding how much/little to feed and helping feed the fish daily).  Well, he's 4yo and definitely remembers that this is the magic aquarium age, of course, so I started looking into it. 

I had remembered freshwater aquariums being fairly easy when I was a kid, but of course, now I'm realizing how much work they were for my mom.  Ugh!  I'm not that excited about this little endeavor.  Is there an easy to maintain pet that would be a good alternative?  Maybe a terrarium (frogs/crabs)?  Is a freshwater aquarium really as much work as it looks like?  Are cold water fish easier to care for?  We already have a dog (and don't want another one) and outdoor/barn cats (and don't want any indoor cats).


Re: Easy pet for a PS'er???

  • We got our four year old a guinea pig.  The girl's love him, and he is easy to take care of.

    I had to do the cage, but the girl's would feed him, and he is extremely gentle with him.  We have now gotten a puppy (Christmas).  He is a family puppy.  We ended up getting a rescue from the local shelter, he is just a mutt but is the love of our girl's lives.

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  • If you want a fish that is easier to take care of, a beta seems to be a good fish as long as it isn't mixed with other fish.  I'm not sure if you can do an algae eater with it.  We were disasters with fish and hamsters as kids.  The larger, furry animals fared better with us, but I see you don't want more cats or dogs.  A turtle may be a good pet, but I don't know how entertaining one would be for your 4yo.
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  • I think the part that freaked me out about the fish was all this stuff about filters, pH, etc.  It's kind of overwhelming.  I had considered a guinea pig.  Seems a little more manageable maybe.  We had those too growing up...actually, we had a whole zoo.  My mom was crazy.
  • We have a beta in a small tank.  It is super easy to take care of.  We don't worry about pH, filters, etc.  We just clean the tank out completely every other week, put in a little tablet to condition the water and then just feed him.

    We have also had a hermit crab.  It wasn't hard to care for the crab, but I prefer the fish. 

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  • I would probably talk him into 1 fish. We have pond fish outside but inside we have 1 betta fish in a medium to small sized fish bowl. They are beautiful fish and super easy to care for. I just clean the bowl when it needs it and put a capful of water conditioner in.  No filters, lights, etc to mess with. My girls take turns feeding her. It's a great fish too. Unlike a lot of other fish, bettas usually acknowledge you. Our fish follows us if we are walking around the room and if we point to an area in the bowl, she will go to it.

    I heard guinea pigs are good pets too but I never had one.

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  • Another vote for a beta.  I always had one as a classroom pet when I taught, as they were very hardy, easy to care for, no filters, etc.  DD has had one for over a year now and it has been a great first pet.

    I also had a hamster as a class pet that became a family pet when I began to SAH.  I think they are easier to care for than a full aquarium.  I also had an aquarium at home that I maintained for years before giving it up when I had kids.  I just no longer hand time for the cleaning, changing of filters, etc.  Once you get your tank established, it isn't hard to maintain, but I just lost the drive for it upon having more household things to manage.   

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  • Guinea pigs are more tough than a hamster or gerbil.  My girl's manhandle him all of the time.  He is truly a great pet for them.
  • I have a large aquarium (with 2 koi and a pleco) and the oldest fish we've had for about 7 years now.  Aquariums with lighted hoods and filters are fairly easy, you just need to remember to do the partial water changes when the water starts to get cloudy, and maintain good filtration.  If you purchase a gravel vacuum, then doing partial changes are really easy.  No need to mess with PH and stuff. 

    Betas are a simpler solution if you don't want a large bowl.  I had a beta for 4 years and he was as easy as it comes.  I had a fancy little bowl for him, and did partial water changes every week to keep it clean.  The key to keeping fish alive, is to never overfeed them.  Once I learned this.... keeping fish has been easy, and I've only lost one fish in the last 6 years (a koi with an untreatable tumor).

    We babysat a guinea pig in December and my 4.5 year old son LOVED him.  He was really cute, and they have little personalities... I found cleaning out that cage to be more demanding than cleaning my aquarium though, but that could be because I didn't do it enough to get a proper routine down.  

    Good luck in your decision!

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  • we have an aquarium with feeder guppies.  We remember to feed them maybe 2 times a week.  No heater, but a filter I change once a month.  They are fast and active.  The kids like them a lot. 
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  •    We got our four year old daughter a rat. I know, I know, you're asking, "Seriously? A rat?!" Honestly, she's a great pet! We named her Luna and got her at Pet Co. She is super friendly and smart! Cleaning her cage is a breeze as well. I clean out the cage and put fresh lining down, but our daughter refills her food, water and gives her daily treats.

       Super low maintence and our daughter is able to interact with her. Hold her, feed her, etc. We've had her for a little under a year now, and have had absolutely no problems at all - with daughter or rat. Rats aren't for everybody, but she's a great fit for us. :)

  • A leapard gecko!  It was the best bet I ever had.  very maintenance free.  Dump some crickets in his tank a few times a week and keep his water full and that is it!  They are fun to watch too.
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  • Thanks ladies!  This helped a lot.  Right now the contenders are the aquarium as planned (maybe just a beta to start?), guinea pig (which I had as a kid and already know how to care for) or some sort of frog/lizard/turtle in a terrarium.  We'll see.  DH and I need to discuss more. 

    I'm not as excited about a lizard b/c they freak me out a little (not nearly as much as their legless friends, but still...), but if I'm not having to reach down in there all the time, DH could probably help when necessary.  Frogs and turtles don't freak me out so much, so that may be a better option.

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