My 4-year-old wants a fish for Christmas, so I was just thinking "ok, so I get a bowl and a fish and some rocks, right?" But then my neighbor told me they need a filter to really thrive, or they just die in the bowl. I am scared to go into the pet store with this question as I feel like they will sell me the moon. But is that the consensus? A tank with a filter, and also use only distilled water and a special sponge to clean? I have never had a fish before.
Dear Carolyn,

Not being the editor of this section ,I beleive you should contact.Do you know how it works? Contact MARY_BETTA_FISH.

I never give my opinion before the Editor,out of respect for hierarchy.

Equally you could find the address and meeting times of the local fish fanciers group and go along. Not only will they be able to help, but you will be in contact with an excellent resource and source of advice to have happy healthy fish. smile
Sorry - I have seen Mary-betta-fish's postings, I never thought to contact her directly! But thanks for the advice - I never knew there would be a fish-fanciers group, but I bet there is - we have a lot of fish specialty shops in our area, so there must be a big interest. I am about to enter a new world I know nothing about, and I will really be the one getting the fish, not my 4-yr-old!!!
Hi, Carolyn, What kind of fish? - Mary
Fish in general need filters because one of the most important things in keeping fish healthy is clean water.
I saw an ad for a petstore that I thought was so true. It said "What do you need to know about taking care of your new pet? Everything." If you get a betta fish, he will need a water filter, but many betta parents start with a betta marina. It has a lid that snaps on. They don't always start with a filter, but you will need to do water changes often. This will keep the water clean until you get a little larger tank for your betta fish and with a small water filter - the kind that doesn't create too much of a water flow. This is because betta fish have long, flowing fins that they need for swimming well and the water current can hinder this and even cause damage to the fins. Betta fish are actually one of the easiest fish to keep. Very beautiful and fun and personable. You can only have one normally because they are territorial with other male bettas and cannot be in the same tank together because they will fight to the death for their territory. You can see these little fish in cups at Pet stores and aquairium stores. The lid on the betta marina is because betta fish (also known as Siamese fighting fish - please do not let them fight - this is inhumane of course.)are also jumpers. They can jump right out of a fish bowl. This has to do with the history of their origins and how their ancestors survived by jumping from mud puddle to puddle of water in rice fields in Thailand to survive. This instinct is still hard-wired into their brains. They are fascinating wonderful fish to have as a pet. I highly recommend them.
Of course, the key word is "4-year-old". So, you will really be the person in charge of taking care of your little fish who is the newest member of your family. Your little child can learn to love and take care of a pet through your example.
I know what you mean about the pet store. The best first thing you can buy at the petstore is a book on fish care. Read up. You'll understand more and get confidence. Ask me as you read. I have a little book on the importance of clean water for Betta fish. You can see it in the e-books here at This principle applies to all fish - the importance of clean water. It's just that, as you can begin to see from these posts to you about the betta fish, there are a few specific fun facts to know about betta fish first before you become a new betta fish pet parent. fish
fish You could give your child a fish for Valentine's DAy. You still have time to read up on Betta fish care and fish care in general and care of the specific type of fish you decide to adopt. fish
Also, there are wonderful aquarium magazines that quite often have articles about Betta fish care because Betta fish are a very popular fish to have as a wet pet. fish You can find them in PetSmart, Petco, Barnes and Noble and other petstores, aquariums, bookstores and online. cool
Carolyn, In fact, the Betta fish is such a popular fish as a pet, that many readers have emailed me questions about their pet betta fish family members. In response to their questions and also because of my great love for my own betta fish kids, I wrote a lot of articles about Betta fish care and you are welcome to read them here at Just look in the Fish section and look up the ones on Betta fish care. Many, many topics in detail are discussed about Betta fish care - including type of aquarium and filter and food and so much more. fish lovers king
I also wanted to mention to you that, although we don't keep 2 male bettas together in the same tank because of their naturally territorialness, it is an excellent idea to have 2 bettas but in separate tanks and set the 2 tanks right next to each other so the betta boys can see each other. They respond to one another and keep each other company. It's amazing. If you only have one betta fish they seem to get lonely. But if you have 2 each in his own separate tank but they can be next to each other - if you observe them over time they become friends and watch each other and develop a routine together of swimming around and around and although at first they flare at each other many times - it is surprising and wonderful and touching how they come to depend on each other being there and they apparently know each other. Of course, don't be fooled into thinking you can ever put them together in the same tank. They still have their instincts. But, you will see them blowing bubble nests more often (this means they are happy) when they have a little betta friend next door. It's really something nice to experience. You should really get a couple of Betta fish. You'll love them and they'll love you and your child. You just have to read and be prepared for them and keep them healthy by taking good care of them and keeping their water clean and at the right temperature and correct pH and feed them betta food and a variety of betta food in the correct amounts every day - and well, it seems like a lot at first - but it really is not - once you read and prepare and understand and start doing it. It is a wonderful, amazing, fulfilling journey to have fish as pets. It is definitely a labor of love that needs a whole family to take care of them. You know, sometimes, you need a family member to take care of your fish when you go on vacation, for example, you know? So, if you raise your 4-year-old to love to take care of fish as pets, you give your child a lovely gift that keeps on giving to him his or her whole life. Like with everything with children, you have to make it fun, though, right? So, for a 4-year-old you have to make the decision of how much responsibility to give - but my guess is that you must take care of the fish completely and have the child there with you when you do it. In order to teach your child you have to learn about it first, right? Reading is one of the best ways to start - this is also a good example to your child. First books and magazines for children encourage early love of books and reading good things which is another invaluable gift t give our children that serves them well for the rest of their lives in so many different applications. There are also many wonderful childrens' books and picture books for little kids about fish. You can see some of them in some of my articles about fish care here on They are in ads from at the bottom of the fish care articles. fish
It's fine to start with that. Then, in a few weeks, get a little larger Betta tank with the filter that comes with it. Distilled water is o.k. to clean with, but paper towels are more sanitary, so as not to spread bacteria - that way, after using one, you can toss the paper towel and dry with a clean paper towel. fish lovers
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