Fish & Reptile Care

A reptitle and many fish

Caring for fish or reptiles is a little bit different than caring for dogs and cats, but follows a lot of the same principles. Many people prefer fish and reptiles as pets, as they can be easily contained, are often simply to care for, and have needs that are easily met.

Why is fish and reptile care important?

It is important to care for any fish or reptiles in your home properly, because they are living, breathing creatures — not just toys. When you bring a pet into your home, you are making a commitment to care for them and their needs, for their rest of their life.

Fish care basics

Generally speaking, freshwater fish will be easier to care for than saltwater fish, as you don’t have to worry too much about maintaining proper salt levels in the water.

Fish will require an aquarium in order to contain them. Speak with a fish specialist to help you find the right size tank for your fish. Too small of a tank can cause problems with fighting, low oxygen levels, and excess waste causing buildup or even illness

Like air is for humans, so too is water for fish. In order to condition tap water for your fish habitat, use a de-chlorinating and biological aquarium supplement, which you can find online or at your local pet store.

Be sure to float and acclimate any fish before adding them to your aquarium, as this helps to prevent shock by simply dumping them in. Float the bag you bring them home in in the aquarium for about 15 minutes, before adding about ¼ cup of water every 5 minutes until the bag is full. When the bag is nearly full, release your new fish into the tank.

Maintaining proper pH levels will ensure your fish are healthy and resist illness. A pH testing kit can help you monitor levels, and you can adjust acidity or alkalinity with supplements you can purchase online or at your local pet store. It’s recommended to replace about ¼ of the tank’s water each month to keep fish healthy.

Changes in temperature can be dangerous for fish, which is why it’s important to keep tanks away from drafty areas or windows. A temperature of about 72°F–82°F is suitable for most tropical fish, which often requires the addition of a water heater to the tank.

Finally, feed your fish a food formulated for their needs, once daily. Try not to overfeed your fish, or you’ll be cleaning the tank more frequently than you might like.

Reptile care basics

Different species of reptiles will have varying and specific care needs, but, generally speaking, they will all need some sort of enclosure to keep them safely contained. An aquarium with a mesh lid is often the preferred choice for reptile housing.

Reptiles will require substrate for their enclosure, which can include sand, gravel, and/or bark. Substrate, or bedding, helps with waste removal, maintaining humidity, and allowing the reptile to burrow.

Heating and lighting are very important factors for many reptiles. Be sure to research the needs of your specific pet to ensure proper health, as many require cooler temperatures at night versus during the day. You’ll want heating and lighting options that can easily meet their needs, and plenty of hiding spots for those who prefer to take cover during the day. Another important aspect of reptile care is humidity. You’ll want to regularly monitor levels with a hygrometer, and may benefit from using a mister.

Many reptiles enjoy a varied diet of insects, small rodents, fruit, and even commercially-prepared diets. Some will eat readily from dishes. Research your specific species to determine what, and how frequently to feed them. A shallow water dish is adequate for the hydration needs of most reptiles.

With a healthy and well-managed habitat, fish and reptiles can thrive for many years in the companionship of their humans.

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