Just because you have an aquarium doesn't mean your pet options are limited to fish. There are plenty of interesting aquatic and semi-aquatic critters you can keep in your tank that are a little off the beaten path. If you're looking for some alternative aquarium pets, we have 10 non-fish suggestions for you.
RED-EARED SLIDER TURTLE
Turtles are among the most popular pets, but there are many different kinds, and they require different habitats. The most popular aquatic/semi-aquatic pet turtle is the red-eared slider, which also has the distinction of being the turtle species whose name sounds the most like a skateboarding trick. They’re not overly difficult to care for, but their aquarium will require vigilant maintenance. Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic, so while most of the tank should contain frequently changed, fresh, clean water, you will also need to provide a “basking” area for the turtle to warm itself under a heat lamp. (Petco)
Crayfish aren’t meant for community aquariums, but when kept in tanks on their own, these crustaceans make wonderful and interesting aquarium pets. There are more than 100 species of freshwater crayfish, and the different varieties requires different habitats and care, so do your research before you set up an aquarium and bring your crayfish home. Generally, any crayfish will do well in a relatively small five-gallon or 10-gallon tank. Larger tank will be necessary if you plan to house multiple crayfish, and frequent water changes will be required in any case because crayfish are messy eaters who also tend to hoard and hide food. (Seymour Fish)
It’s obvious where these unique-looking amphibians got their name: They’re typical toady green on top, but have super-cool orange-red tummies underneath. As amphibians, they require aquariums that offer both water and land. A 50-50 ratio works well, and the tank should definitely not contain less than 25 percent water. As you might expect, the fire-bellied toad’s bright coloring indicates that it secretes toxins from its skin. While this should pose no severe danger to you, the toxins will contaminate the aquarium’s water, which can harm the toad, so you will need to change the water frequently. (Backwater Reptiles)
Several species of crab may be kept as aquarium pets, with red-clawed crabs being a popular choice. They possess a bold look and personality, although they are aggressive pinchers, so handling should be kept to a minimum. As far as aquarium setup is concerned, red-clawed clabs can survive for some time in fresh water, but brackish (somewhat salty) water is best. Fill your aquarium with water up to a few inches below the top of the tank, and provide a few perches above the water line. Make sure to keep a tight lid on the tank, because these feisty critters are definitely escape artists! (Critter Hub)
Snails are frequently kept as aquarium pets, whether as cohabitants with fish or other creatures, or as attractive pets in their own right. Apple snails are a popular choice, as are as are mystery, inca, nerite and rabbit snails. Snails are fairly low-maintenance; their tanks require 10-25 percent water replacement every two to four weeks. A tight-fitting cover is essential, because snails can climb the walls of their aquariums and escape if given the chance. (Petco)
The name “sea monkeys” is a marketing term that was used to sell brine shrimp to kids from ads in comic books. The gap between the colorful cartoon drawings of sea monkeys in the ads and the reality of the brine shrimps appearance infamously caused a lot of kids to feel ripped off, but over the years, the retro kitsch aspect of sea monkeys has given them a continued cult following. And what makes brine shrimp legitimately cool is the very trait that allowed them to be sold through the mail. Brine shrimp lay eggs that, when dried, can remain viable for years. All you need to do is “just add water,” and the baby brine shrimp take just a week to grow into maturity. (Animal Planet)
Ghost shrimp are among the most popular freshwater shrimp kept as pets. Their name comes from their unique, near-transparent bodies, which makes them cool and fun to watch. But the truth is, ghost shrimp as usually purchased as food for fish and other aquarium inhabitants. But there are plenty of people who enjoy keeping ghost shrimp as pets for their own sake. They are small and easy to care for. All you need in your tank to keep your shrimp happy are plenty of appropriate plants. Be prepared to watch your ghost shrimp family grow, because these suckers spawn easily in an aquarium environment. (FishChannel.com)
So you want a fire-bellied aquarium pet, but a toad isn’t for you? A fire-bellied newt may be just the ticket. About 70 percent of your newts aquarium should be water, while the remainder should include a sloping land area for the newt to bask. It is possible, if desired, to provide a full aquarium with floating cork bark on which your newt can rest when necessary. A newt’s aquarium should also have plenty of aquatic plants, stones, logs and the like for climbing and hiding purposes. Also note that, like their fire-bellied toad cousins, fire-bellied newts secrete a toxin that can irritate your skin, so you may wish to wear gloves if you have to handle your newt. (The Amphibian.co.uk)
Axolotls are unusual-looking but actually quite adorable aquatic salamanders from Mexico. Perhaps the most unique trait of these wonderful creatures is their ability to heal and regenerate. They’ve even been observed to regenerate parts of their brains when damaged. And in some cases, a damaged limb may heal, yet generate an additional appendage as well, resulting in a rare extra limb. If you’re going to keep a pet axolotl, though, be sure to provide an aquarium that’s around 20 gallons — about twice as big as a typical aquarium. Axolotls are messy, and soil their tank water quickly. Be prepared for frequent cleaning and maintenance. (ReptileChannel.com)
Next: 12 Alternative Pets
Though not exactly common as pets, octopuses are becoming increasingly popular with experienced aquarium enthusiasts. There are different species of octopus available as pets, and the species that you choose will dictate much of its care, so do a lot of thorough research before you buy. An octopus should not be kept in an aquarium with other fish, or even with other octopuses. One octopus per tank. Tank preparation and maintenance should be discussed with an experienced pet-store owner. Again, these are pets for experienced aquarium owners, but if you can handle the work involved, these highly intelligent creatures can prove to be very interesting and unique pets. (Buzzle)
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