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6 low-maintenance pet fish that basically anyone can keep alive

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, pets...

These no-fuss types of pet fish are a snap to keep and maintain

You might know by now that the goldfish who ended up living a long, productive life after you won him at the state fair when you were a kid is the exception, rather than the rule.

Fish are sometimes mistaken as an awesome low-commitment pet and are often purchased by people who want something in their home to nurture — without the responsibility of, say, a puppy or kitten. But fish ownership can quickly disintegrate into a spiral of tears once you realize just how hard they can actually be to care for and keep alive.

If you're one of those people who is having a hard time keeping a precious pet from the big flush, it could all come down to the species you have in your fish tank. While some fish species require more care than others, there are several types that are remarkably low-maintenance. So what, exactly, are those species?

If you’re looking for a fish that’s easy to care for, we're here to help you narrow it down.

What makes a fish easy?

As a fish owner, I can tell you there’s a lot more that goes into the care of fish than you might think. Life happens, you get busy and those fun little fish tend to take the back burner. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance fish, choose one that’s hardy. Look for a fish that can handle a little overfeeding (because how much is a "pinch," really?) or a little underfeeding (oops). You’ll also want a fish that can stand less-than-frequent water changes, because who has time for that? Finally, you’re going to want a fish that’s peaceful. Take my word on that one — after spending all day keeping my children from killing each other, the last thing I want to do is break up a fish fight.

Not to worry — we won’t leave you high and dry in the fish aisle. We went straight to the experts to find out which fish are the most no-fuss.

The simplest fish to keep


These no-fuss types of pet fish are a snap to keep and maintain
Image: KidStock/Brand X Pictures/Getty images

According to Nick Saint-Erne, D.V.M., Certified Aquatic Veterinarian, resident PetSmart veterinarian, the easiest and most popular starter fish is the Betta. They’re the only fish that don’t require a filter or heater and can be kept in small bowls. The only real maintenance you’ll face with these guys is a 25 percent water change once a week.

More: How to grow a lily in your fish bowl

Bettas have gotten a bad rep, as their nickname, "the fighting fish" suggests. While it’s true you can’t house more than one male betta in the same tank, that doesn’t mean they have to live solitary lives. "They can be kept with other similar-sized fish of different species in a larger aquarium," says Saint-Erne.

Next Up: Tetras

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