Why Fish Make Better Pets Than Dogs

Throwback to when we were just kids: many of us had that moment when we begged our parents for a puppy only to face repeated rejections and disappointment. Perhaps some of you might have a kid and are now faced with that same question.

Well, if you are this person, this article is perfect for you to absolve all your disappointment as a kid or guilt as a parent once and for all: Keeping fishes might just be that much better as a pet for yourself and your kids.

There are so many reasons to not keep a dog that it has become a gut instinct for your parents\u2019 outright rejection, whereas a plea for a fish might have been met with more receptiveness. Here\u2019s a practical and fact-based analysis on why Fish make the superior pet.

Fish is Cheaper than having a Dog

Keeping a fish is roughly three to five times cheaper than keeping a dog. To understand the costs associated with keeping these two pets, we will need to examine two kinds of costs - initial costs and maintenance costs.

For initial costs associated with a fish, you may need to buy a tank, multiple accessories like filters, pumps and lights, softscape like plants, soil and sand and most importantly the fishes. While these might seem a lot of possible expenses to new pet owners, the bulk of the costs usually comes from the tank, which is the biggest component of an aquarium. A huge tank can cost up to 3000 SGD. However, the good news is that you might consider a much smaller tank instead, which can cost less than 20 SGD. Hence, the price range is huge, depending on your needs.

Similarly for the accessory components such as the filters, pumps and lights, the most expensive brands can cost up to a few hundred dollars. For the softscape and livestock components including plants, substrate and fishes, these are relatively inexpensive, starting from under a dollar. Of course, if we consider luxury fishes such as arowana or koi or exotic plants, that would be a different story altogether as they can even cost more than several thousand dollars. On average, most fishkeepers spend less than 500 SGD in initial costs.

For initial costs associated with a dog, the most expensive component might be adopting and licensing the animal itself, which can cost from 500 SGD to more than 1000 SGD depending on dog breeds. Initial medical expenses including spaying or neutering your dog, vaccinations and any preventative medical care can cost up to 700 SGD according to an article on moneyunder30.com. Additionally, startup supplies of a dog that include food, bowls, bed, leashes, tags, toys can cost from 100 SGD to 300 SGD or even more, depending on how much you want to spoil your pet.

An overall initial cost comparison between keeping fishes and keeping a dog will yield the following for most pet owners - fish: 100 SGD to 500 SGD and dog: 300 SGD to 2000 SGD.

In terms of annual running costs of keeping a fish, it costs between 100 SGD and 200 SGD a year which includes tank maintenance (water and electricity), fish food, the occasional refresh of your aquatic plants. Unless there is a severe breakdown of your aquarium, the costs are minimal for running a fish tank. In terms of annual running costs of keeping a dog, it can cost between 400 SGD and 1000 SGD a year which includes food, annual medical examinations, vaccinations and preventative medical care and licensing fees.

Hence, it seems conclusive that keeping a fish is always much cheaper than keeping a dog, making it a more attractive and affordable option, especially as an entry-level pet.

Keeping Fish are A Walk in the Park, Dogs take much more Effort.

Apart from huge money savings in keeping a fish, it also consumes less time and effort to keep and maintain an aquarium versus keeping a dog. An aquarium is intrinsically cleaner than a dog. And, you\u2019d have to do actual walking in the park!

First, an aquarium is constrained to a predetermined boundary of the space that the tank occupies, so any damage is confined to a spot. On the other hand, a dog is free to roam about in the house, unless you were to keep it in a cage, which is not recommended. This means that a lot of effort is required to clean up after your dog.

Second, to address the elephant (or poop) in the room, a fish excretes much less than a dog, and with less odor. The convenience to remove this excrement from your fish tank is also much easier than picking up the dog\u2019s fecal matter with your hands. Furthermore, a dog might be picky to choose the best spot for its excrement but not a fish.

Third, the maintenance of an aquarium is less frequent and simpler than that of a dog. You only need to do regular water changes and minimal feeding to maintain a healthy and thriving aquarium. In fact, most fishes are overfed to death due to overzealous feeding by the owner. For dogs, you will probably have to walk your dog outdoors every day to match its bowel movement cycle and also to provide it with sufficient exercise. In addition to feeding your dog food, you will need to replenish its drinking water supply every day. Moreover, you will need to bring your dog for regular medical checkups which not only burns a hole in your wallet, but also takes up your time to bring it to the veterinarian.

Finally, keeping a dog does not only take a toll on you mentally and physically, it is definitely much more emotionally taxing than a fish. You could say the joys and delights from having a dog outweigh all its costs and downsides, but having a dog is akin to having a child: are you ready to take on that massive responsibility and make that huge emotional investment? Having a child comes with its own sets of stresses and pains, this is the same for dogs. For fish, on the other hand, you could just ignore your fish in your tank for a day and their life would go on swimmingly. Fish aren\u2019t just as loyal as dogs, their loyalty is much easier to be earned as well.

There are more practical uses to fishkeeping than keeping a dog

Keeping a fish is more than about companionship, a huge part of having aquatic pets is about functionality as well! Any pet can sit still and look pretty, but how many have practical benefits that you can experience on a daily basis?

First, an aquarium is not just a home for your pet fishes but also your own home decor piece. It beautifies your home with a slice of nature while having a dog might add extra clutter to your home, especially with all their equipment. A dog might be part of your family, but an aquarium is part of your home.

Second, an aquarium provides stress relief with less emotional ties. Based on a scientific report, longer viewing times at an aquarium leads to reduction in blood pressure and lowers your heart rate, especially with many fishes in the tank. While you might argue that you can similarly reduce your stress by playing with your pet dog, you will find that you are just introducing a random variable in your life that might go in the opposite direction that might give you more stress.

Third, building an aquarium is a great way for family members to bond. Most families undertake this activity as a safe family project that requires team-work and responsibility.

Fishes are more beautiful than dogs

While beauty definitely lies in the eye of the beholder, we will try our best to justify why fishes are better looking than dogs.

There is a larger variety of fishes versus breeds of dogs. Besides the general categorization of freshwater and marine species, within the freshwater category, there are already 32,500 species based on IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, not including non fish species such as shrimps, snails, crayfishes etc. If we value diversity as a component of beauty, fish wins the round. In terms of size, color and behaviors, fishes also cover a larger spectrum of variation than dogs.

Moreover, there is a sense of mystery in these aquatic pets as they live quite independently of man. While we keep aquariums in our homes, we have to respect their habitat and it is not often for us to intrude into their space unless we are hand feeding them or petting them. For dogs, dogs have already been domesticated so much that their living boundaries overlap with us all the time.

You probably can keep several fishes but not several dogs

Due to its size, you probably can keep several fishes in one tank, depending on your tank capacity. The number of fishes you can keep depends on the fish species. If you keep small community fishes, you can probably keep several schools. If you keep larger monster fishes like arowanas, bichirs or oscars, then you probably have to determine the compatibility of their tank mates and the size of your tank.

On the other hand, unless you have a huge home, it will be hard to keep several dogs, as they do need sufficient space to live and run around. Hence, if you prefer to keep several pets, fish will be the best choice for you.

To make the problem bigger, there could be higher restrictions in terms of residence for dogs versus fishes. For example, dogs might be disallowed for many high rise apartments but not for aquariums. This is due to the damage, odor, noise and liability risks associated with dogs but not fishes.


In conclusion, we do not dispute that keeping a dog has benefits that fish cannot aspire to provide. For example, a dog can be very loyal to its owner and can act as a guardian, especially when they are service dogs for therapy, accessibility and even drug detection. Dogs can also be more interactive and responsive to you which makes for a very good companion. However, apart from great companionship and specific job roles, which can be replaced by human friends, workers or family members, it seems that there are many more additional benefits for keeping a fish, or several fishes, for the cost and effort that you have to put in.