Nearly 12 percent of American households own at least one pet fish, making it the third most popular pet in the United States. Generally seen as affordable, easy to take care of, and lower maintenance than pets such as dogs, there are a number of reasons why fish can make a great addition to your home. However, despite their popularity, it’s true that having an aquarium in your house can be less than sustainable, depending on the choices you make. From reducing energy usage to getting the right fish, here are a few things you should know when planning on introducing a more eco-friendly set-up at home.
Is bigger really better?
One of the first things that many fish owners do (aside from getting the fish, of course) is picking their aquarium, with many sparing no expense when choosing the biggest tank they can find. However, it’s important to realize that size does matter when choosing an aquarium, as bigger tanks generally mean both more energy and money when it comes to running any necessary equipment, such as lights, pumps, aerators, or heaters.
However, this doesn’t mean you should rule out anything larger than a desktop tank – for reference, a 10 gallon freshwater aquarium might use as little as 90 to 120 kilowatt-hours each year, according to a 1997 report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s necessary to choose the proper tank size for the amount/type of fish you will have as well in order to prevent overcrowding and other issues, making doing your research on tank size a very important consideration for more reasons than one.
While it all generally starts with tank size, saving energy when it comes to your home aquarium can be done in a multitude of other additional ways as well. For instance, choosing freshwater fish over saltwater ones can help reduce the amount of equipment you’ll need to run in the first place, as saltwater fish usually require extra. And, while many may choose to add aquarium lights to their tank to easier view the fish, opting to use LED ones can help reduce energy waste in your aquarium, as can using energy-efficient pumps, etc.
Choosing the right fish for your home aquarium can be a stressful endeavor on it’s own, though it’s important to realize that you can make a more sustainable and environmentally friendly choice when it comes to the fish themselves. While freshwater fish generally require less energy where the tank is concerned, there are other reasons for choosing them over saltwater fish. This is largely because many saltwater fish that are captured in the United States are caught using harsh chemicals, like cyanide, in order to do so.
However, while cyanide is used to make catching the fish easier, it’s important to realize that the chemical can cause significant harm to the environment, including coral reefs. On the other hand, many freshwater fish are farm-raised, making them a much more sustainable option. If you already have your heart set on keeping a saltwater aquarium with tropical fish, there are ways you can do so in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way, such as by ensuring the fish you’re getting are certified by the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC), which makes sure that the fish are handled in a sustainable manner.
Mind your decorations
One of the most enjoyable aspects about adding an aquarium to your home is decorating it. After all, there are a plethora of decorations to choose from that can allow you to make your tank uniquely your own. However, when you’re trying to create an eco-friendly setup, it’s important to realize that a lot of typical and common aquarium decorations at your local pet store may already be out of the question.
For instance, plastic decorations often found at the pet store are definitely not the way to go where the environment is concerned. Instead, opting for more sustainable choices, such as real driftwood, can be a much better option. Luckily, driftwood can be easily found, and comes in different shapes and sizes so you can simply pick some to your liking that will be perfect for your tank — making it both a sustainable and versatile (and natural) decoration that can give your fish a great place to hide.
Maintaining an aquarium in your home can be a rewarding experience and even a hobby for many, though it’s necessary to realize that there are environmentally friendly ways to do so. By making the right choices when it comes to choosing your tank, fish, and decorations, you can ensure that every aspect of your home aquarium is as eco-friendly as possible.