I blame Topsy and Tim. I blame them and their insufferable Mummy. With their chirpy, we can do anything mantra, they have every blooming pet under the sun. The book even insists that you count them. Katie has them memorised. Her resulting demands for a pet are entirely their fault.
The thing is – I wouldn’t mind a pet. I liked having cats growing up and I love dogs. But the reasons we don’t have pets like these are countless.
There are loads of cats in our local area. They populate our garden and are constantly fighting with each other. They hunt the birds in the fields behind our house to extinction. Adding another into the mix just seems to be asking for vet’s bills.
I also think that getting a dog would just be cruel. We work long hours and don’t have time to go for long walks when we get home. We would really have to hire a dog walker or pay for some kind of doggy daycare. Which to me, just seems to defy the whole point of having a dog to begin with!
As for hamsters/gerbils/rabbits/guinea pigs – I just don’t get the appeal. Rodents are something I want to keep away from my house. And I have a whole family of foxes in the garden who would be overjoyed at the sight of rabbit. It would just be a nightmare waiting to happen.
However – thanks to Topsy and Tim the demand for pets has been unremitting. Ben also joined in with this request by asking if we could get a snake – why?!
Things were getting desperate, but remarkably – they’ve been placated with fish! It may be a temporary fix but I’m taking it.
Fish have featured on ‘my pet and me’, are bought at a pet shop, and need looking after. They fulfil all the pet descriptors imaginable. And I love them. They require little to no attention, cleaning them is a doddle, and they’re actually quite fun to look at.
Admittedly, we did make an initial mistake by purchasing a small circular tank. I figured that we only needed a little tank for a couple of fish but this became a little problematic. It got dirty fairly quickly and was a pain to clean. The curved sides were tricky to get at with a scrubbing brush and the live plant soon took over.
Thanks to the January sales, we were able to get a much bigger tank. This one has square sides and more room for the fish. To Katie’s delight, it also meant more room for tank decorations. We call the resulting design the Copacabana.
To heat or not to heat?
Admittedly, tropical fish are pretty. You can get them in all kinds of colours but I was really worried about tank malfunction. My Mom has this horror story of her friend’s tank that overheated. I also know that it can be really tricky to get the water quality correct and this was a hassle I wasn’t looking for.
That said, I’m not a fan of goldfish. I just don’t think they’re that interesting to look at.
The problem was entirely solved by a quick visit to Pets at Home. I found that guppies can easily survive in cold water and are perfect for beginners.
We started out with three in our small tank and have six now we have a bigger tank. They come in different colour combination so each is identifiable. However you can easily get the same combination again. (This is important when Princess Tiana dies and you don’t want your four year-old to notice.)
Choice of fish
On the whole, the fish have been a success. (Except for the untimely demise of Princess T.)
They’ve proved themselves hardy enough to survive a switch from one tank to another. They occasionally buddy up. Sometime they seem to fall out and try to nip each other. But they always provide something to look at and the kids seem to really be entranced by them.
Thomas loves to climb on a chair for a closer look – it’s remarkable that the fish actually seem to come out for a look at him too!
Princess Tiana genuinely likes to stay in her rainbow castle. Whilst Fishy McFishface resides under the bridge like a grumpy troll. I would never have thought fish could present typical behaviours akin to personality.
They’ve also had babies recently – although admittedly seem to have eaten all bar one. We’re prepared for next time with a separate net thing but given the tank isn’t big enough for lots more fish – I’m not that fussed!
So I may be a far cry from Topsy and Tim’s smug mummy. But I have come to genuinely like our pets.