Finding Nemo a Space on Campus

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Published October 8, 2019
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The Montclarion
Alexis Kitchmire | The Montclarion

My roommate and I own a betta fish. His name is Impeach. I’ve only known Impeach (or Peach, Peaches, Peachy) for about a week, but it’s not hard to dislike the tiny-finned friend. He attacks his food pellets before he eats them and hides under his fake plant. He then explores the confines of his tiny one gallon tank in my dorm room.

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Impeach floats in its one-gallon tank and eats food. Carley Campbell | The Montclarion

The Montclair State University housing agreement outlines many necessary things: visiting policies, what you can and can’t bring and how to contact staff on important issues. It also outlines how many gallons you can let your aquatic roommate live in.

When I was searching through Amazon to find a suitable tank for the little fellow, I realized that there was one specific stipulation for residential students on campus. All tanks must be a gallon or under, which led me to believe that Montclair State might be the only college campus in New Jersey with such restrictive rules for pets.

The College of New Jersey, for example, allows pet lizards, turtles, hamsters and fish as long as they are in a tank no larger than 10 gallons.

Rutgers University and Rider University only allow fish in tanks no larger than 10 gallons.

Owning fish is uncommon in residential areas. Not everyone wants to clean the tank, feed the fish and decorate the aquarium, but for those who do, it should be far more humane.

Obviously dorms shouldn’t have 100 gallon aquariums with lionfish and real coral reefs that block the desks and the windows, but should allow something that can hold a fish and its decor, that is larger than a Poland Spring carton.

Each fish is different. A goldfish, including the carnival goldfish you win, can grow to 14 inches and needs at least 30 gallons of space to live up to 10 years.

A betta fish, like my boy Impeach, needs a minimum of two and a half gallons of space and can live up to five years. In smaller spaces, fish can have serious claustrophobia and die suddenly.

One of the school slogans is “It’s All Here.” Montclair State offers many unique opportunities and life experiences for its students in the dorms, including the ability to own a fish. As a proud fish mom of four, including my three goldfish back at home named Ophelia, Hopper and Sunshine, I would want my fish to live long, happy lives.

Although Montclair State may not opt for a liberal pet policy like The College of New Jersey’s, it still can improve. Let the pet fish of Montclair State have a bit more elbow room, give them a chance to explore a larger space.

Impeach is a small betta who deserves a chance to swim in a bigger space. He should have more room to hide and swim and move his fins. A gallon or less is far too small for a living creature, and it’s important that he lives a long life in a much more suitable space.

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