67% of American households have pets. To many Americans, their pets are considered members of the family and are integral for people’s emotional and mental health. This trend remains true for college students. In fact, a study by Ohio State University showed that college students are better equipped to handle stressful situations if they have a pet. While I think pets are a great emotional outlet for college students in any circumstance, pets may be especially helpful for students in this turbulent and unpredictable year. Here are a couple reasons why I think all Notre Dame students should get a pet fish this year:
- CDC studies have shown that bonds between people and pets can improve your health.
CDC studies have linked emotional connections between people and their pets with many health benefits. These include decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, decreased triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness and increased opportunities for socialization.
- The HuffPost gives various reasons why fish make great pets
Fish have a tranquil, calming effect on their owners. They are very quiet and clean pets. Also, fish can be playful with their owners and may even be trained to do tricks! They are perfect for college pets because they don’t develop separation anxiety when you leave them home alone.
- Betta fish are ideal college pets
Betta fish have been shown to be able to recognize their human guardians. They swim about excitedly when they see their owner and will curiously inspect their tank when new items are added. This is something that I have seen in my own betta fish, Princess! Princess’s tank sits on the kitchen island in my apartment, and she swims up to get a look at anyone who enters the kitchen. It is so hilarious watching her check out new people, nose dive into her plants and explore her algae balls.
- Getting a new pet can be a learning experience
-Decorations should be kept at the periphery of the tank for the fish to explore. There should be enough for mental stimulation for the fish, but not too much for overcrowding of the tank.
-Betta fish have very sensitive fins, so it is important to buy only soft decorations, and no hard/sharp plastic ones.
-Betta fish prefer low flow filtration systems.
-Betta fish are also carnivorous, so they must eat fish food made of insects or insect larvae. Also, it is easy to overfeed betta fish, and they can only be fed 3-4 times a week!
Also, I learned that fish bowls are bad! Fish bowls are hard to maintain, unstable environments, restrict oxygen levels, lack proper filtration, and are ultimately not ideal environments. Most importantly, they are too small! Fish outgrow them, and will die prematurely when living in fish bowls. Goldfish can live 10 to 15 years and betta fish can live up to 10 years in a properly sized tank.
- Having a pet forces you to be more responsible
Having something to take care of other than yourself innately forces structure and responsibility into your life. For my fish, my roommates and I must split chores such as cleaning the tank every 2-3 weeks and maintaining Princess’ feeding schedule. Although having a fish is definitely very low maintenance, I definitely feel slight parenting responsibilities.
- Sharing a pet with your roommates is so fun!
In case you guys didn’t already feel like a family, adopting a pet baby really solidifies the family unit of your apartment or dorm room. Not only does sharing a fish with your roommates lessen your individual financial and chore burdens, it also gives you something else to bond over and spend time together on!
Especially this year in these times of uncertainty, it is important to hold mental health, along with physical health, at utmost importance. Having a pet, even if it is a fish, is such an easy way to add companionship and happiness into your daily life. Having a pet is a big responsibility, and it is important that people do their research beforehand in order to fully commit and provide the best quality of care to their pet. Nonetheless, it is absolutely wild to me how a single betta fish can bring me and my roommates so much joy every day! I would definitely highly recommend a pet fish for anyone looking to expand their college family!