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Original photo by Samantha Dietel

Emotional Support Fish: The Support It Needs From You

Going away to college means not only saying goodbye to your family and friends, but also to your pets too. For most college kids, your dog, cat, etc. stays home once you move into college. Many miss having a pet around, and being on-campus really narrows down your options for what kind of pet you can have.

One pet that everyone living on campus is allowed to have is a fish. Not only are they low cost, but they are not too difficult to take care of. You never need to worry about not being home enough to look after it or losing it (hopefully). Plus, you still get that feeling of having a pet that relies on you. However, your fish has needs, just like you.

If you’re going to take on the responsibility of a fish, you should know that they aren’t exactly low cost. Sure, they’re less expensive than caring for most other pets, but there’s still a lot that they need to survive before they can help you thrive. For starters, they need a tank—a decent sized one so they can swim freely—with a filter, water test strips, and food. Some fish, like bettas, also need a heater. You also need to be cognizant about the chemicals in the water you’re using. If your water has too much chlorine (like dorms tend to), your fish will not survive. Another thing to think about is how often you are going to change the water in the tank and how you’ll clean the uneaten food. This is just a few of the factors to consider before getting a fish.

Although there are numerous opportunities to get a fish on campus, you should go directly to the pet store. Several events throughout the year provide fish for free, but don’t include many of the materials you typically need. Additionally, these fish often do not live long. If you want your emotional support fish to love and support you, then you need to return the favor. The bowl that they come in from school events is not big enough for them to live a comfortable life. You may be thinking that it’s the perfect size to keep in the corner of your desk, but these containers do not provide a humane environment for your fish. In addition to the other materials I mentioned, you should also get your fish some decorations. You don’t need to spend top dollar on your fish, if you buy the right materials at the start, they will last you years. If you’re going to get a fish, you need to make a commitment to care for this living organism. It’s not an object or a toy. Keep that in mind.

Always remember, if your fish doesn’t feel emotionally supported, how can you?

Samantha Dietel

Providence '23

Samantha Dietel is a senior Psychology and Elementary/Special Ed double major and is co-president of the Providence chapter of HC. She loves to stay involved on campus and is a choreographer for Dance Club, participates in Active Minds, PAWS, and is a member of the Psi Chi honor society. As a local near Providence, she enjoys guiding her friends around the city and showing them what it has to offer. Samantha also enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and a good binge-watch.