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Ask The Toy Reporter – Do Fish Make Good Gifts?

We get a lot of questions here at The Toy Reporter, both directly from readers and friends and indirectly through the Search Engine report.  Just the other day the following search appeared near the bottom of the report:  “is a fish a good present for a 9 year old?”

We’ve consulted with a number of experts in the area (well, we talked with other parents) and the consensus is NO, fish do not make a good surprise gift.

If you know a child that has been asking for a fish and you’ve heard/consulted with their parents that they’re onboard with the idea and ready to accept the responsibility, then ok.  Generally though, giving any sort of living creature as a gift is a bad idea.

The main reasons:

  1. Pets such as fish, hamsters, and the like require a large amount of ancillary equipment and consumables.  Pet fish need tanks, rocks, food, cleaning systems, lights, heating, etc.  Unless you are willing to provide a full set of fish support gear, tank cleaning services, and a year’s worth of fish food, you’re giving an incomplete gift.
  2. Living creatures require a full time commitment that the child and parents may not be ready to accept.  Suddenly that 7 day family cruise next months becomes a hassle of getting someone to feed and take care of the fish/bird/hamster.  Nothing puts a dent in a good friendship like asking them to take care of your fish, then having it die of natural causes while you are away.   They feel horrible and you wonder if they’re really the responsible friend you thought they were.
  3. If you don’t take full care of a pet, it ends badly.  Fish tanks need to be cleaned on a regular basis even with filtration systems, and it’s a gross stinky job that it’s more likely their parents will be forced to do.  Miss a few weeks and it’s a quick trip to that great fish bowl in the sky.

If it wasn’t amazingly cheesey, you could always get a Fake Fish Tank instead…

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