Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Living

January 19, 2009

This is the dawning of the age of aquariums

Fish surpass dogs, cats in popularity

Every dog may get his day, but these days America’s favorite pet is finned, not furred.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, there are twice as many pet fish in the U.S. as there are dogs. Local a- “fish” -ianados say they’re not surprised at all that keeping fish has grown in popularity.

“Fish have always been popular, and I’ve definitely seen an increase in that popularity lately,” said Sandy Catlett, owner of The Pet Store in Jacksonville. “I think the gain in popularity stems from the quality of equipment. The equipment is just so much better now. It makes it really easy for anyone to set up and successfully maintain an aquarium.”

Freshwater tanks seem to be the most preferred with fish-keepers, Catlett said.

“There is just such a variety of freshwater fish out there, and all of them are really pretty,” she said. “They run from the betta, which can live in a little cup, to oscars, which require huge tanks, sometimes. It seems there’s a freshwater fish for everyone out there.

“A lot of what I see is people who are successful in keeping their freshwater tanks for a long time graduate to saltwater tanks. They’re a little more time-intensive.”

Of the schools of different species of freshwater fish available for the home aquarium, bettas, or Siamese fighting fish, reign supreme as the favored fishy pet.

“Bettas are so easy to take care of,” Catlett said. “They really are very hardy, and (the males) come in several bright colors. The only drawback to them is you can only keep one in a tank at a time.”

As the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia.org explains, “contrary to popular belief, male betta do not fight to the death in the wild; when one fish has won the fight, the loser retreats to safety. In an aquarium, however, there is no retreat, so the victor fish continues attacking the loser, often resulting in the loser’s death, therefore, hobbyists rarely house two male bettas in the same tank unless they are (a) separated by a partition, or (b) they are from the same batch of eggs and are immature.”

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