Yesterday you shared an article about cube-friendly plants. Any tips on cube-friendly fish? I've heard everything from Bettas to Goldfish to no fish at all. What would you suggest?
Fishless in Cubeville
Asking about fish is a great followup to the cubicle plant curiosity of your fellow Lifehacker reader. Fish are enjoyable and low-maintenance companions, but they certainly require more work than plants. Let's review some of the important things to consider when deciding if keeping a fish in your office is for you.
Workplace Rules: What workplace regulations, if any, apply to keeping pets of any sort in your cube or office? Most workplaces are fairly lenient when it comes to plants, but might not be so lenient when it comes to fish. Before you buy anything, especially a living sentient thing whose care you're responsible for, you'll need to check and see what the official or unofficial policies are. You'll also want to read the full guide before checking in with the boss so you know what you're getting into, and can answer questions he or she might have about your little fishkeeping operation.
Supplies: People keep fish in all sorts of terrible conditions that are harmful to the fish. Just because a fish can survive in conditions without immediately keeling over doesn't mean we should force them to do so. Proper fishkeeping that provides the fish with adequate room to move and grow, and clean water that won't burn it—poorly filtered and infrequently changed water causes a buildup of waste in the water that actually burns the fish's gills—requires more than a little bowl next to your monitor.
Plan on having, at minimum, at least five gallons of water for even a few small fish. Keep in mind that a little 5.5 gallon tank weighs around 70lbs when full and a more fish-friendly 10 gallon tank weighs around 115lbs when full. If having a tank with that volume and weight of water in your cubicle is going to pose a problem, you'll need to get your fishkeeping fix at home.
You'll need a tank, filter, heater, and some basic supplies like a small bucket and a siphon hose for performing water changes, a water test kit, and a bottle of dechlorinator if your office has city water treated with chlorine—highly probable, since they don't often build cube farms out by the real farms.
For small setups in the 5-10 gallon range you might consider looking into the Eclipse brand of self-contained fish tanks. You pay a small premium for them, but they're self contained—the heater, light, and filter are built into the hood—and the entire unit only has a single cord. Your boss might be less freaked out by your fish tank if it looks more like a lava lamp and less like a science experiment that's sucking down lots of electricity. One of the 5 gallon Eclipse tanks is seen at left—ignore the fact that they put three goldfish in that tiny tank for marketing purposes, that's like keeping three golden retrievers in a walk-in closet.