When Love Gets Fishy

Gotcha! This is no love advice article, at least not in the traditional sense. Buckle your seatbelts and get pumped because I’m about to give you the lowdown on fish care in college.  If your fish is just not a fan of staying alive in your care, is a little unhealthy, or you’re gonna get your first fish (wow! super exciting, I’m looking forward to your big day), then you are in the right place.


So I’m going to start this shindig off casual and introduce myself. I’m a new face here at HerCampus and consider myself to be fairly well versed when it comes to fish. I have a fish here at school with me, his name is Reginald (yes, I know perfect name for a perfect fish) and he is a beautiful deep blue Veiltail Betta fish. Don’t tell him I said that, it will go straight to his over inflated ego. I have had Reginald for two or so years now. He is a crotchety old man at this point and is not as spry as he used to be, but he still has plenty of fight left in him. I’m really hoping I can get people as amped and informed about fish as I am because it is a fun life and a worthwhile relationship.


Choosing Your Fish

         Today we’re just focusing on the most magical first step in you and your aquatic companion’s journey together. Obviously, those of you with fish have hit this stage, but it’s an important benchmark and the starting point of a beautiful, blossoming relationship between you and your fish, so I can’t just not talk about it. 

         In college, it's important to make sure your fish is a freshwater fish and doesn’t need saltwater. Saltwater tanks are incredibly difficult to take care of and need a lot of maintenance and supplies there just isn’t time or room for on campus. You also want to make sure the fish you get doesn’t need high oxygen levels in the water because unless you plan on changing the water a lot (and I mean a lot) or getting a larger tank with a filter, things are gonna get real sticky for you and your fish real fast. For these reasons, people generally get either a goldfish or a beta fish. 



*Please note I have little experience with goldfish, but did complete research before getting Reginald. I personally decided it would be best for me to have a beta fish.



  • Super cute
  • A goldfish does hold the world record for best trained fish, so if you’re into that, there you go
  • They are not aggressive, aka you can have multiple goldfish in the same tank and they won’t kill each other (yay!).
  • They are curious and like to eat, they will eat literally anything and they do a pretty good job of cleaning the bottom of the tank.



  • They will literally eat anything and have big mouths. DO NOT put pea gravel in your goldfish tank. They will eat it and choke.
  • They do actually need a filter contrary to popular belief you cannot put them in a bowl and expect them to live a long happy life.
  • The species matters a lot. The slim goldfish just keep growing forever— they will be very unhappy in your tiny space efficient tank. They need a pond. Fancier goldfish are fine though, look for rounder bodies and double tails.


Betta Fish



  • Super cute and graceful I guess (rolls eyes at Reginald)
  • Super hardy fish. In the wild they live in rice paddy fields which are super low on oxygen and water movement.
  • Curious and active, they can learn to recognize their owner’s voice
  • They will interact with you, sometimes because they want to fight, sometimes they’re just curious.
  • Very small stomachs, so they don’t need a lot of food.



  • Very small stomachs. They don’t eat a lot, so extra food can cause water problems. In cases where they eat too much they can become constipated or contract a fatal disease called dropsy (we’ll get more into common diseases in a later article).
  • Aggressive with a capital Anger. It is super rare to put two males in the same tank and not have them be dead very quickly. 
  • Weak swimmers— if your filter is too strong, they just chill at the bottom. Very low motivation to improve physical condition (looking at you Reginald).


So overall, the choice is up to you, but care-wise there’s not a lot of difference. It just depends on what you’re looking for in a fish. Also, keep in mind that every fish has its own personality. Your fish’s personality may not become obvious until you’ve had it for a while, but each fish needs and gives a little something different.

Anyways, that’s the starter. I’ll be back with tank setup and more in my next edition. Stay posted, my scale loving swimmer friends! I hope this first article was helpful or at least entertaining.