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How to Know if You're Cut Out for Fish Keeping

Bright orange tropical fish with cute face

Photo by Hung Diesel

Are you on the fence about whether or not to get a fish? Worried that you may not want to put in the effort?

No worries. There’s an easy way to find out before getting stuck with a bunch of fish you need someone to take off your hands.

This article covers the most common reasons why fish keepers quit the aquarium hobby. After reading through these, you should have a better idea of whether you’re cut out for fish keeping.

Here’s why people give up on keeping tropical fish…


Purchasing some of the more common tropical fish typically isn’t that expensive. But as with any newly acquired pet, it’s not only the price of the animal that you have to consider.

To make it easier for new fish keepers to understand the level of investment, here’s a list of upfront and ongoing expenses you may or may not have considered:


Aquarium filters

Filter replacements

Tank heaters

Water chemicals

Fish food

Jumping into multiple tanks too quickly

There are a lot of different types of fish to keep. And all of them are really neat and have their own cool features. So it’s understandable that you may want to have several different kinds.

But as you may already know, not all fish can live together in the same environment. Because of that, it’s necessary to have multiple tanks for certain groupings of fish.

Tank of large goldfish

Unfortunately, if you set up multiple tanks as a newbie, you’re also multiplying the expenses listed above. And that means you may find the hobby simply becoming too expensive to maintain.

Keep in mind, however, getting in deep and investing a lot of money is a risk with pretty much any hobby.

It’s a lot of work

Yes, fish keeping is therapeutic and relaxing. So is gardening. So is gaming. But none of these hobbies require zero effort.

That being said, it’s good to have an idea of what kind of work you are going to be getting into before making the investment in the hobby.

Tank of cute, bright parrot fish

Keeping tropical fish requires regular aquarium cleaning, water changes, and pH level testing and adjustments. So ask yourself, after cleaning an aquarium, which feeling will you have—will you feel proud of your pristine tank, or will you feel annoyed that you had to spend time on cleaning it?

A hobby requiring work does not mean it won’t be fun. You just have to ask yourself whether the specific type of work required for your intended hobby will be fun for you. If you only want to sit back and watch fish swim and won’t enjoy actually maintaining those fish, you may just want to go visit an aquarium instead.

You’ve killed a fish before

This one can be tough. It’s hard knowing that if you brought home a fish and it didn’t survive to its full lifespan, it was likely your fault. It’s stressful. If you’re not able to get past this feeling, you may find it difficult to stick with the aquarium hobby.

A white betta fish

If you are able to get past this, though, you can use it as a learning experience rather than giving up on the hobby.

All the options can be confusing

There are a lot of different options for tank accessories, lighting, and filters, not to mention types of fish and fish foods. The best thing to do is just keep it simple. If you start out with a simple, inexpensive option, and your fish seem to be doing well, there’s no need to change or add on unless you want to.

Remember, you can always come into The Tye-Dyed Iguana in Fairview Heights and ask one of our team members what they suggest for a basic aquarium setup that fits your budget.