A little (ok, not so little) while ago I was asked by a responder to share how to have a fish tank on a very tight budget.
My first tip regarding frugal fish tanks is- don't have a fish tank! Fish are a very expensive hobby. In addition to the cost of buying the tank, filters, air pumps, heaters, and other equipment, you also have the cost of buying the fish (this could be quite costly), and the electricity to run the whole thing. Not to forget, there is also the cost of water and food. Getting and running a fish tank is not a frugal decision, which is why we are passing our fish tank along to a friend, as soon as we can figure out transportation there.
If, however, you've set your mind to having fish (or a well meaning "friend" promised your child that "Mommy will get you a fish, right?" and you hadn't the heart to say no), I'll give you some tips on how you can make this costly endeavor be as cheap as possible.
(These tips come from my husband. Mike used to work in a pet fish store and was shocked at what he considered to be highway robbery and lots of cash down the train, especially by people who've been overtaken by the fish craze and become addicted to buying more and more equipment and fish. He figured out how to have fish while spending the least amount of money possible, and now it's my turn to share his tips with you.)
Get a Siamese Fighting Fish. These fish, also known as Bettas, are a truly beautiful species. Or at least the males are. (They're the fish version of peacocks, with beautiful males and blah females.) Siamese fighting fish take virtually no care. Most fish require heaters, filters, air pumps, spacious tanks, and lots of food to stay strong. Siamese fighting fish require none of this. They need minimal oxygen and can survive in conditions that would kill many other types of fish.
Siamese fighting fish can be kept in small area with no equipment. A little glass vase (with or without the plants shown, as shown above), or even a glass bottle- or a glass cut even- can make a perfect home for your little critter.
To start off with Siamese fighting fish, you can buy the fish cheaply, a glass container from a dollar store (or use what you have lying around your home), and perhaps decorate it with some colored marbles or Mancala pieces, both of which can be found in a dollar store. You'll need a bit of food (these fish don't need to eat frequently), and you're all set.
Just remember- these fish are called fighting fish for a reason. If you put two together in one container, they'll duel each other to the death. So one only!
Goldfish are usually given as prizes in carnivals, and while they can last a short length of time in a fish bowl, in order for them to really live long, they need filters. However, goldfish are the next hardiest fish after Betta fish, so if you don't want the fighting fish for whatever reason (like, if you want more than 2), get a goldfish, but put it in a fish tank and not a glass bowl. Goldfish don't need any special equipment aside for a filter, a tank, and food.
How to get your equipment cheaply? That's for next time.
Do you have any fish? Do you find you end up spending too much money on your fish? What type of fish do you have?