Free, Family-Friendly, Fun: FAST
Online since 1997!

Advice and Support
E-mail FAST
FAST Handbook
FAST Journal
Friends of Food Allergics
Get Involved
Just for Fun
Kids and Teens
Mailing List
Parents' Corner
Personal Stories
Printable Resources
Search FAST
Site Information, etc.



Profile: J. Melissa Peeler and Melissa Taylor Photography: J. Melissa Peeler

Size and Appearance: Also called Siamese fighting fish, betta fish are well known by most people, since they are a commonly kept pet. They are about 2 1/2 inch fish with long, fancy fins. The most commonly available colors are red and blue.

General Requirements: Unlike goldfish, who get a bad rap as being bowl fish, bettas can be kept in bowls (the larger the better). An aquarium is better, though. A good-sized bowl runs about $20, and a suitable all-in-one betta aquarium is usually around the same price (filters help make fish environments less work than cleaning something out manually). Highly territorial, you should never have more than one male betta in a bowl. Also, forget about that craft store betta/plant combination where you're told the betta will eat the plant and the plant will keep the water clean. That type of housing is not suitable for these fish, because they're carnivores. "Trend" housing of any sort for bettas is not recommended--there are a lot out there.

Lifespan: Unfortunately, bettas are not generally long-lived fish; two years is about the longest.

Responsiveness to Caretaker: Responsiveness of individuals varies greatly, depending on the unique personality of the fish. While some bettas are not very responsive, Buddy (pictured) comes to the corner where usually fed when his keeper approaches and will make small bobbing jumps asking for food. He will also do such things as follow a finger moved slowly outside his tank and flair his fins when sung to.

Quantity: Only one male per habitat (most people keep males, because the females are not as fancy or colorful).

Notes of Interest:
* Bettas get oxygen in the traditional way (gills), but can also go to the surface for air.
* Aside from the typical betta type, there are fancy varieties of bettas (the tail fin's appearance is usually the main difference).
* Male fish may create "bubble nests."


Profile/Photography: Melissa Taylor

Size and Appearance: Goldfish can really range in size and appearance, from about four inches full-grown (such as fantails) to over a foot (such as shubunkins and comets)! Goldfish come in more than just the dime "feeder" variety. One, called the pearlscale, looks somewhat like a golf ball! At right is a calico fantail.

General Requirements: Sadly, many people think goldfish belong in a bowl. Goldfish in pet stores are young, and small compared to what they should be when healthy and full-grown. An aquarium is a much better home. You should try to provide, at the very least, one to two gallons per inch of adult goldfish, strong filtration (goldfish can be more messy than other fish), and a hood over the tank. Ponds are an even better home in good weather.

Lifespan: Dozens of years, when properly housed.

Responsiveness to Caretaker: Goldfish learn to come to the surface of the water at feeding time.

Quantity: Goldfish are peaceful fish and can be kept in multiples.

Notes of Interest:
* My first pet was a goldfish. S/he lived to be 12, and even survived a serious car accident (no, s/he wasn't driving!).
* Goldfish are a type of carp.

Links: Robyn's Goldfish Page ( has a lot of helpful information. There's also a great article about goldfish on (


Profile/Photography: Melissa Taylor

Size and Appearance: Like betta fish, male guppies are far more colorful than females, although they are usually smaller (males are about 1 - 1 1/2 inches). Unlike bettas, though, they can potentially be kept in groups where there is more than one male per tank, and require a more "high tech" set-up. The fish tend to be speedy and dart about a lot, so that they're difficult to photograph!

General Requirements: A fish tank (allow around two-and-a-half gallons per guppy), hood/cover (with lighting), filter, and substrate (optional). Though they're cold water fish, many owners opt for a heater as well.

Lifespan: About one to three years, if purchased healthy. Guppies can be especially prone to overcrowding (by breeders and pet stores) and may contract diseases from other fish. Be extremely observant and picky when purchasing, watching out for white "spots" or missing parts on the tails or fins. All my guppies died within days by catching tail rot and ich infections from one infected guppy.

Responsiveness to Caretaker: Guppies may learn to come to the side of the tank at feeding time.

Quantity: Guppies can be kept in groups. However, avoid a group where there are more males than females. Also, be careful if housing only male guppies together, because some males do get aggressive. If doing so, provide plenty of hiding places and relocate a problem guppy to his own tank if he gets aggressive. Guppies are prolific and give birth to live babies. If you keep a mixed gender group, you will be inundated with guppies, and the adults will eat their own fry.

Notes of Interest:
* Guppies come in literally any color of the rainbow.
* They might "school," which many people find charming and/or relaxing.
* Beverly Cleary, inventor of Ramona Quimby, wrote a cute story ("Gallons of Guppies," in Henry Huggins) about a boy who obtained two guppies and soon had a room full!
* Getting guppies can be a bit of a competition--everyone wants the pretty ones, and those no one wants are often the ones left! If you have a reliable pet store that sells guppies, try asking what day their fish are delivered, or find a local guppy breeder.

* Only your allergist can determine what is truly allergen-free for you and/or your child. The animals in the above profiles are fur- and feather-free, but that doesn't mean they will necessarily be allergen-free for all individuals. This website and participants in this article are not responsible for reactions that take place as a result of owning any pet.

Would you like to help by providing a profile of your favorite pet(s)? Only profiles including a personally-taken photo(s) will be accepted. Send an e-mail from this webpage, including all of the following information: your name as you would like to be credited, size and appearance of the animal, general housing requirements, lifespan, responsiveness to humans, quantity, and any fun notes. Thank you for taking the time to share about your pet(s)! E-mails about broken links are also appreciated--just use the link above.

Allergen-Free* Pets Database


This website is for personal support information only. Nothing should be construed as medical advice.