Owning A Dog Pet VS. Keep Fish Tank at Home


Ah, the age-old question of which is more affordable, fish or a dog? I am the proud owner of a beautiful cappuccino colored retriever as well as a fishkeeper enthusiast, so I feel I can safely answer this burning debate for you.

Own A Dog Pet or Keep Fish Tank at Home: Keeping fish tank is more affordable, easier to care for, and less troublesome in the long run. Dogs are more costly money vice and also a huge time investment. Fish, on the other hand, don’t need to go for walks (in fact, I strongly urge you not to walk your fish), don’t require shots, and don’t really eat very much at all. They do not need vet care, do not mess up your furniture, and do not shed at all.

Financial Benefits of Having a Freshwater Aquarium

Let’s take a look at the cost benefits of fish as compared to owning a dog. These can include:

1. A 50-gallon freshwater tank costs between $200 to about $400 to set up:

Add a few extra dollars for fish, and you are ready to go. Saltwater aquariums may cost a bit more to start up and maintain, but will still have the financial edge over Fido – your dog. Smaller aquariums will cost even less to set up and maintain at home. Price can also vary depending on a preferred choice between Saltwater or Freshwater fish tank read the whole article about.

Dogs can require over $2000 in the first year alone, and that isn’t including the actual price of the dog itself. This is broken down as follows:

  • Medical exam: between $150-200 for a new puppy evaluation, flea, tick, and other pest management
  • Spay or neuter: upwards of $200-300
  • Crates, toys, leashes, collars and other supplies: $200 to $300
  • Treats and food: $1400, assuming $20 a bag weekly and treats regularly
  • License for your four-legged furry friend: $15-20
  • Training and obedience school: $100-150 (in the best scenario, one-time investment)

2. The freshwater aquarium costs a lot less in annual upkeep:

It’s true; once the initial investment is made, keeping your freshwater fish tank well maintained can cost under $200 per year for miscellaneous things like filter cartridges and food.

Saltwater tanks, of course, will be a bit more costly to maintain per year, but they will still be well under the annual cost of keeping a dog.

Dogs enjoy the food. A lot. Dogs also tend to shred toys on a regular basis and get hurt for no apparent reason. Your yearly maintenance on a dog could look something like this:

  • Treats and food: $1400, assuming $20 a bag weekly and treats regularly
  • License renewals: Between $10 and $20 annually
  • Vet visits for routine shots: $150 for booster vaccines and annual shots
  • Vet visits for emergencies: $500 to $1000 and above, depending on the nature of the emergency
  • Other miscellaneous supplies: $200-300

3. Fish in the tank do not require grooming:

In fact, I highly advise that you do not take your fish to your local groomer; living in water, they bathe regularly. Dogs, however, need routine:

  • Bathing
  • Clipping and grooming
  • Ear cleanings
  • Toenail trims
  • Dental Exams

Prices for grooming will vary widely depending on the breed of dog, the type of grooming needed, the size of the dog, and your choice of grooming facility. You can look at between $100 to $150 for professional grooming services at a pet salon.

4. Fish do not have smelly breath:

Not only do fish not have bad breath, but they also do not drool on you, no matter how happy they are to see you.

5. Fish do not shed at all:

Never, in all of history, has anyone ever shown up to work for an important meeting covered in fish scales from hobby fish keeping. Dog owners show up daily covered in hair, frantically trying to remove it with wadded-up tape or a wet paper towel before meeting with the boss. For dog owners, hair covered clothing is as much a part of life as having to carefully remove dog hair from dinner plates before serving guests.

6. The inevitable sad moment:

The bond you share with your dog is a deep one, and one of the hardest decisions an owner has to make is knowing when the time is right to let their beloved furry family member crossover. Afterward is the heart-wrenching decision on what to do with your dog’s earthly remains.

Cremation or burial? Both options can be very costly, and the emotional devastation is ongoing for days, months and even years after the loss.

A fish is a lot easier to deal with at the end of life. There are several humane ways to end a fish’s suffering quickly at home, and if you find him floating, a simple flush “burial at sea” takes care of it.

7. Fish tanks are very versatile:

Dogs are not easily changed to suit your mood. While you can put a sweater on a dog, or give him little booties in the winter, the appearance of your aquarium is limited only by your own imagination.

Try these fun themes:

  • Beach: Shells, sandcastles and a beach-themed backdrop can turn your aquarium into a fun oasis right in your own home.
  • Movies: With a little imagination, your aquarium can be themed after your favorite movie. Aquarium décor can be found to match any genre of movie, from Star Wars to Halloween, and everything in between
  • Seasonal: If you want to keep your aquarium fresh for holidays and seasons, you can easily switch the décor of your tank to match.
  • Hobbies: Décor can be found to match nearly any hobby you can think of and can be decorated in fun ways to show off your passions.

The Time Investment Required in Fishkeeping

Fishkeepers know that fish need a lot less of a time investment than dogs, as well. For instance:

Fish do not need to be walked several times a day

Fish get all the exercise they ever need by swimming in their tanks. I have never had a vet tell me that my fish has gained too much weight and must be exercised more.

Fish don’t require the one-on-one time that a dog does

Dogs thrive on being pampered and cuddled. Fish, however, do not appreciate being held for long periods of time.

Dogs need to be trained, fish not.

From house training to obedience training, dogs require a lot of teaching. I’ve never had a fish yet that ate my sneakers when I wasn’t home.

Dog sitting arrangements for vacations vs. fish sitting

Your dog doesn’t stop needing to be cared for just because you are going away. You can hire a pet sitter, board him at a kennel, ask a family member or friend to come over several times a day to care for your furry friend, or for an additional cost, you can find a hotel that allows your dog to stay with you. Fish can be left alone for a day or two, thanks to affordable fish vacation feeders that you can drop right into the tank as you leave. If you will be away for an extended period of time, it’s easy to find a friend who can come feed your fish every other day; unlike dogs, fish don’t require constant feeding and attention.

Hazards of Pet Ownership

Dog owners know all too well the hazards of ownership associated with having their fluffy family members.

Keeping a freshwater or saltwater aquarium doesn’t have any of the risks that owning a dog may have. Your fluffy canine companion has unlimited potential for destruction and heartache, such as:

Dogs bite, fish do not

Even the sweetest dog can become afraid or feel threatened and bite someone, resulting in legal fees and doctor bills. Unless you have piranha, your fish will most likely not jump from the aquarium and deliver a nasty bite to anyone.

Dogs pee and poo, fish just poo

Yes, fish do this as well, but they don’t do it on your favorite carpet or hardwood floors.

Bored dogs will amuse themselves

From chewing your shoes to scratching your doors, bored dogs will find ways to pass the time when you are not around. Fish never seem to be bored, and I have never owned a fish yet who had separation anxiety. Fish do not dig holes in your yard, chew your favorite chair, or eat your sneakers when you are not looking. Bored fish may pull up or even eat your plants in a tank. This is not caused by boredom but some other issue. When did you feed your fish pet last time?

Fish will never run away, a dog does.

Fish do not, as a rule, chase squirrels or deer. In all of my years keeping fish, I have never seen a Lost/Missing sign for a single fish.

There are no roving bands of stray fish in any neighborhood I have ever visited, and to my knowledge, no fish has ever jumped from his tank and had his way with the neighbor’s ladyfish, resulting in unwanted fry.

Dogs can not understand a word you say, neither fish

To be fair, neither can fish, but the difference is that fish don’t really care what you’re saying anyway.

Dogs love to bring the great outdoors inside with them

Any dog owner can tell you that dogs love to bring dirt and mud inside with them to share with their less than thrilled owners. If you are lucky, you can vacuum up the mess but if you are not, you will have to rent a steamer for about $40 a day or hire someone to come in and clean your carpets. While the prices for this can vary depending on the size of your room, you can generally expect to pay upwards of $100 a room for this service. Fish, on the other hand, are content to confine their messes to their aquariums, resulting only in a partial water change every week at no additional cost to their keepers.

Dogs can stink, literally

Every dog owner knows the various smells associated with their furry friends. Wet dog smell is the easiest to recognize, and the hardest to get rid of from the dog, your furniture, your clothing, and even your car. Fish kept as a hobby do not have a wet fish smell that needs to be sprayed away with a deodorizer.

Fish are welcomed in nearly any rental home or flat

Because of the potential for property damages, many rental properties do not welcome dogs. Those that do require a large security deposit on top of the monthly rental agreement. Small and medium-size Aquariums are welcomed in any property because fish are quiet, clean, and not destructive in any way. There is only one question if your tank crack there might be some damage.

Benefits of Dog Ownership

I do love dogs, however, and I can see where a dog may have advantages over fish in a few ways, such as:

Fish are a little lacking as guard animals:

No matter how big your fish is, his bark will not scare away intruders.

When you call a fish, he isn’t going to come to you:

You can coax him to the top of the tank with a nibble of food, but your fish isn’t going to win any obedience contests.

You can’t train a fish to get your newspaper, pipe, and slippers:

Fish tend to have a hard time navigating stairs.

Fish generally don’t want to be petted, even when you’ve had a bad day and want some companionship:

After a long, tiring day, you are better off cuddling a throw pillow than hugging a fish.

Fish aren’t very happy to see you when you come home:

Dogs will greet you with wagging tails at the door when you come home, even if you’ve just been taking out the trash and have only been gone for five minutes. Fish don’t share this enthusiasm no matter how long you’ve been away.

The Verdict – and the winner is …

While everyone loves a cold, wet nose and wagging tail, dogs are generally more expensive and more time consuming than a freshwater or saltwater aquarium full of well behaved, brightly colored fish. All benefits of keeping the fish tank at home are listed here, check the link.

The upkeep of an aquarium is not as difficult as with dogs, and there are many rewards to having aquariums.

One of the biggest benefits of owning fish is to your health, where research has proven that fish are a valuable asset to a home, facility or office. Now known as “aquarium pet therapy,” scientists and doctors believe that:

1. Fish are a calm and soothing presence that creates peace and reduces stress:

Studies show that watching fish can reduce anxiety and promote emotional wellness.

2. Fish can lower blood pressure:

Researchers have proven that an aquarium full of fish can actually lower blood pressure by reducing stress. These same studies show that even after a heart attack, owning fish can promote a longer and healthier life.

3. Fish can help people with Alzheimer’s:

In 1999, Purdue University released a study showing that Alzheimer’s patients had an increase in appetite and connection with their surroundings along with a decrease in violent or disruptive behavior when they have access to fish in an aquarium. The patients who were able to watch fish in aquariums were overall more alert and content than patients who did not have aquariums around them.

While I love all dogs, I have to say the final verdict is for a freshwater or saltwater aquarium full of fish, hands down.

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