How Old Do You Have To Be To Buy A Pet Fish? (+4 Reasons For The Age Limit)

Pet fish are certainly the best. They don’t make noise; they don’t demand much, and watching them swim in the tank gives a deep sense of relaxation. However, they do need proper care, and it costs a lot of bucks.

Have you ever been to a store and needed an ID to buy a pet fish? You must’ve been really sad. I know I was. My first thought was “Why? I’m not asking for alcohol”. I just want to take care of this little thing.

Unfortunately, this is standard store procedure. There is an age limit for buying pet fish in the United States.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Buy A Pet Fish?

Generally, in the United States, you have to be at least 18 years old to buy a pet fish.

The age limit to buy a pet fish may be different for different stores. Here’s a table for quick reference:

Store NameMinimum Age
WalmartIt doesn’t sell pet fish anymore
Pet Supplies Plus18

Minimum Age for Buying a Pet Fish in the United States

how old do you have to be to buy a fish

The minimum age to buy a pet fish in the United States is 18. I’ve done a lot of research, and this is what I’ve found. Many stores also allow 16-year olds to buy a fish but as a general rule of thumb, keep in mind that you have to be at least 18.

Stores do not allow customers below 18 to purchase a live companion animal or aquatic pets, unless they are accompanied by parents. 

It’s a normal thing to encounter incidents like this. Rules are there for a reason and you have to abide by them.

So if you’ve ever wondered “do you have to be 18 to buy a fish”, well, for the folks in the US, the answer is yes.

Why is There an Age Limit for Buying a Fish In The First Place?

As weird as it may sound, it is logical for stores to set an age limit for buying pet fish. You must be wondering why.

There are so many folks that buy fishes that they can’t take care of, and later get rid of it in inhumane ways – like flushing them down the toilet.

Here are some of the reasons that will help you in getting a clear picture:

1. Taking Care Of Fishes is a Responsibility

Any pet you take to your home is a live animal, a breathing creature. You will have to take care of it the way you take care of newborn kids.

Fish are quiet creatures. They can barely express anything. Unlike dogs and cats, they cannot come to you and tell you that they are hungry or feeling unwell. You have to be responsible enough to take care of a pet fish, and in general, minors are not always accountable.

2. Taking Care Of Fishes is Expensive

It is a well-known fact that keeping an aquarium is an expensive hobby. Having a fish tank is expensive. Buying the tank, maintaining it, and buying food/accessories for the fish is not cheap at all.

If you are under 18, it means you are not earning a full-time income at the moment. You might not be able to afford the expenses. This ends up in people cutting corners in necessary equipment, and that is certainly not the ideal environment to the fish.

3. You Need to be Careful

After buying a fish tank and the fish, there’s still plenty more to do. You have to be careful and vigilant if you want to become a fish parent.

Fish live in water (duh), and they require proper care and maintenance. You need to perform frequent water changes, maintain core water parameters, and clean the tank of algae and fish poop.

You will have to get back home on time and feed them. You have to watch out for parasites.

4. Keeping Pet Fishes Requires Knowledge

If only we could just plop a fish into a water container and call it a day, that would’ve been amazing.

But all amazing things require knowledge. You have to make sure that the fish is properly acclimated to the water temperature. If you don’t know what acclimation is (or how to help your fish adjust), you might cause them to get sick.

Moreover, you have to take care of the nitrates and pH levels of the water. You should know how and when to do that.

But I’m already qualified to keep fishes!

My parents have been maintaining an aquarium for as long as I can remember. They taught me the basics of how to take care of fish. I learned that you need to clean the tank and feed the fish. They were always proud of me for helping out and taking care of the fish. One day, I got to take care of a fish that had just hatched from an egg. It was so cool to watch it grow and live its life!

I’m sure a lot of people reading this post are already successful fish parents. So why can’t we buy a pet fish?

Well, rules are rules. The best way to purchase a fish in this case is to have your parents or siblings accompany you.

The age limit is in place for a reason; now you know why. You very well may be responsible, earn, and be independent, but you must observe the animal welfare law.