Finances & Money

Populating Your [Fish] Tank

By J. Savings

The following is a guest post from “J” from Budgets are Sexy. J definitely puts personality into his financial articles, which makes his site a great read. Head over and consider subscribing to his RSS feed!

Oh yeah, that’s right! The thought came to me on a whim yesterday, as I rounded the aisles of Petco looking for a new goldfish.

You know how they sell all sorts of exotic fish in the back? Well, instead of picking up those fancier ones for $3-$7 a piece, save some from the “feeder tank”! Every store’s a bit different, but if they’re selling fish, they’re selling “feeder fish”.

What are “feeder fish”, exactly? They are usually smaller, not as sell-able fish used to feed the hungry fish-eating fish (think piranhas), and are usually found in a huge long tank w/ literally HUNDREDS of others…all swimming around w/ nothing to do except wait to be eaten…or be saved 😉 They’re still fish-fish, just not the crazy exotic type (although sometimes you can get lucky!) that can bring the store real money.

And the best part – they only cost 2¢ – 26¢ each! Now THAT’s the kind of money i like spending. And, as you can see from the picture above, that i did. I picked up two of the biggest & prettiest ones I could find, handed over my 55¢ (52¢ + tax), and filled up my 10 gallon tank!

What about this “FREE” talk? Oh yes, you have two ways of making this happen:
1) When you go in to look for the fish, find a manager and explain that you just wanna try 1 or 2 to start your tank. Then, when you locate the feeders, explain you’d just like two of them to “test it out”. Usually, and esp. if you’re a young lady and he’s a guy, he’ll end up scooping up more than 2 AND hand them over for free! i mean, they’re only a few pennies, right?

2) If this doesn’t work (aka you’re a guy), ring out your purchase as usual, and then check the end of the receipt you get. More often than not, it’ll have a “survey request” attached to the end of it, esp. if you’re a savings card holder. Take the 5 minute over the phone survey, and you’ll be rewarded with a nifty little coupon for $2.00 off your next purchase! Even BETTER than free.

And that’s all there is to it. Of course, you may need a little luck on your side for one of the above to happen smoothly, but I find that a nice smile and plenty of compliments help bring more of this “luck” your way.

Worst case? You’ll walk away w/ a handful a fish for under a $1.00! it’s win-win, especially for your brand new non-eaten pets 😉

ps: If you’re looking to fill up a larger aquarium with fish, grab a dozen or two of the little babies you’ll usually find in the feeder tank. More often than not, they are assorted breeds of tropical fish, and they will procreate like none other! I kid you not, the last time i did this was a year and a half ago….and my original 14 babies turned into 100+ breeds of all kind!

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Clever Dude


  • Goldfish are extremely messy and produce lots of waste. As a general rule of thumb, keep 1 goldfish per 10 gallons.

    You can find smaller tropical fish for cheap, too, like guppies (but not my kind of guppie!) or platies. They pollute the water less, so you can keep more in a smaller tank.

    Also, goldfish are coldwater fish, so they can’t be kept with a lot of the prettier tropical fish.

  • We used to pick these up also. I later had a small turtle, we could get a dozen of these and put them in there. They survived quite a while, I think the turtle made friends with some of them.

    So much better than having a lonely tank for the turtle to be in, or for our 55 gallon tank to be nearly empty because they cost so stinking much.

  • AJ – oh yeah, they def. are messy! if you grab a good pump though, you won’t have to worry about it – but then the amount you spend on the pump would greatly outweigh the savings in any other area 😉 I actually have 2 separate tanks – one for the goldfish, and 1 for the tropical ones cuz i love both types. just annoying feeding all the tanks each morning, as i also have a beta tank! haha…

    Philip – Oh man, i SO wanna pick up a turtle. I was over at Petco the other day and saw a tank full of them….but it’s def. the buying of a 55 gallon setup that’s currently forcing me to hold of for sure. That is, unless i find one at a yard sale this summer!

  • Jerry – Giving away the fish was def. the best option 🙂 To be honest, even if there WAS a good way to transport it safely (i don’t know of one either… at least a CHEAP way), i’m 99% sure Customs wouldn’t allow it in, or out, of either country. They get pretty picky when it comes to bringing in fruit, animals, etc.

    If you ever gave it a shot though, i’d be interested to see what happens!

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