Giving Animals as Presents

Use Extreme caution in giving pets as presents

Giving and received presents is very nice.  Generosity is an important virtue, but it can sometimes be difficult to choose a suitable present.

Nearly everyone likes animals, but not everyone is willing to give them the care they need, and an animal suitable for one person may not be a good pet for someone else.

In our shop, we sell fish and occasionally other aquarium animals like Axolotls and turtles.  If someone has an aquarium, you might consider buying them a fish for their tank.  We often have people wanting to do this, but sometimes, the person buying does not even have a good idea what sorts of fish are already in the tank, and certainly does not know the plans the owner of the aquarium has for the future of their collection.

I have known several cases where a well-meaning friend or relation has bought a fish that has wreaked havoc in a previously balanced collection of fish.  The new fish might be a very pretty cichlid that is put into a community tank of small fish.  The new fish has a feast and their poor owner is as devastated as the poor fish.

Unsuitable types of fish are not the only possible problem.  For example, the aquarium might already have all the fish it can safely hold, and one more could cause the whole fragile artificial ecosystem to crash, and all the fish to die.  This is a likely outcome of overcrowding; you do not just lose the extra fish, but the whole lot.

I advise against buying a fish as a present in nearly all situations.


Buying a Kitten or Puppy as a present is often even worse.  The person you are giving it to may not want the long-term commitment, both financially and emotionally, that the pet requires.  They should make that decision themselves.  Even if they have already decided, you are better to let them choose their own pet.

Replacing a Pet

Apart from occasions like Christmas and birthdays, another situation where people will often buy an animal for the friend or relative is when a well-loved pet has passed on.  Again, I advise against this.  The bereaved person should be allowed to make up their own mind about replacing the pet.

After each Christmas, there is a rise in the number of abandoned pets being received at animal shelters.  Many of these are the result of a well meant presents.

Although I recommend against buying an animal for a present, perhaps a book about the care of the animal your friend or loved one is interesting in might be a better idea. After doing research on the animal, they can make up their own mind.