Note that all of the information on this web site is my opinion. You are entitled to your own views. I have kept many different species of fish and I have been envolved with all aspects of the aquarium hobby. I have only kept fish for about fourteen yeas so I am by no means an expert. There is much I do not know. One thing I do know: AquaBabies are cruel. I urge you to visit the official AquaBabies Boycott site below as well as the AquaBabies site. At their site, you will find photos of their death traps as well as lots of false or misleading information. Any intermediate or advanced aquarist with half a brain will verify this. The Boycott site is set up with a petition for you to sign to voice your opinion.
AquaBabies Web Site
AquaBabies Boycott Web Site
What are AquaBabies?
1. 4 inch acrylic "tank"
2. to 4 fish fry picked from the following species (may change): zebra danios, albino zebra danios, white cloud mountain minnows, common guppies, swordtails, rosy barbs, maybe other barbs, rosy red minnows (I also saw bloodfin tetras inside some of them)
0 to 1 Dwarf African clawed frog
0 to 1 snail (looked like Black Japanese Trapdoor snails in the ones that I saw)
1 small live plant
1 handful of small rocks
2 cups or so of water of unknown origin
Cost: The ones that I saw were $19.95! Total worth of the above is $2.00 to $5.00 (if there is a frog).
What is Wrong with AquaBabies?
1. Here are some maximum lengths of the above animals reached within one to two years in most cases. These are NOT based on literature or word of mouth. These are based on MY animals (except for bloodfin tetras and dwarf frogs which I have never had).
Zebra danio: 1 to 1.5 inches, may live 5-10 years at least
White cloud mountain minnows: 1 to 1.5 inches, may live 5-10 years at least
Guppies: 1 (male) to 2.5 inches (female), live up to about 5 years old
Rosy red minnows: 2 (female) to 4 inches (male), live 2 to 4 years
Bloodfin tetra: 1 to 1.5 inches
Rosy barb: 2 to 4 inches, 7 years (one aquarist had one 7 years old anyway)
Japanese trapdoor snails: 1 to 2 inches circumference
African clawed frogs: 5 inches (according to the HerpIndex and Frogland)
Dwarf African frogs: 1.5 inches (according to Frogland)
Size of box: 4 inches
Sounds like a tight fit!! Does not sound like they will do doing much swimming if they live to adulthood.
2. There is no aeration in the AquaBabies cell. With the possible exception of labyrinth fish and some catfish that can gasp gaseous air, all fish need decent levels of dissolved oxygen and other essential gases in their water. Aeration via air pumps and air stones or splashing (from filters, waterfalls, etc.) creates the necessary balance of gases in water. Water with large surface areas also are aerated by wind and rain. In 16 square inches of surface water, there really is no opportunity for proper air exchange, especially with most of the top covered. The fish and plants (at night) use oxygen in the water and the fish and plants (at night) give off carbon dioxide. For a balance to be achieved, aeration is necessary. During the day, the plant spring (if it survives) will use carbon dioxide and give off some oxygen which alleviates this stress during the day.
3. There is no filtration in the AquaBabies cube. There are three types of filtration: biological, mechanical, and chemical. While mechanical filtration is nice because it removes unsightly debris and allows the removal of such debris before it contributes to the nitrogen cycle, a tank can survive without it. Chemical filtration also allows the water to be more clear and with fewer pollutants but again is not absolutely needed. The only one that fish MUST have unless you change half of the water daily, is biological filtration. This is also called the nitrogen cycle. This is where the animals' wastes are converted from toxic ammonia or less toxic ammonium to less toxic nitrite and even less toxic nitrate. Nitrate can be further converted to nitrogen gas and driven off my aeration or utilized by plants as food. A host of bacteria perform these duties. Besides needing the ammonia (from fish poop and leftover fish food and dead animals and plant material), these nitrifying bacteria also must have high levels of dissolved oxygen and a place to grow. This goes back to Number 2 above. There is no aeration or filtration in AquaBabies so that animals cannot survive for long in them. While rocks are included in the cells for bacteria to grow on, without adequate levels of oxygen, the bacteria will not grow. To learn all about the nitrogen cycle, go to my water chemistry page. To learn more about the types of filtration and filters, go to my fish care page.
4. Temperature fluctuations can cause a problem in so little water. Since there is less than half a gallon of water, no heater, and no chiller, the AquaBabies are subject to whatever the ambient temperature might be. The animals (with the exception of the frog which is tropical) in these cubes are able to survive between about 60 and 80 degrees F. Some, like the rosy red minnows, can survive down to freezing, but others, like the rosy barb, will start to die in the 50's. Above 80 degrees, these cooler water animals will also start to die from heat stress and reduced dissolved oxygen levels. So little water will change temperature in just a few minutes. If the cup were moved from say a 90 degree F room to a 50 degree F room (or outside to inside, etc.), the water would change from 90 to 50 degrees in just a few minutes. Animals can die from temperature change shock.
5. This lack of stability also holds for water chemistry. Since there is so little water, pH and other chemical fluctuations are much more likely. Again, this stress can kill.
6. All of the fish that may be found in AquBabies are schooling or shoaling fish. A solitary schooling fish will be too scared to exhibit normal behavior. Solitary shoaling fish are known to sulk and refuse to eat. They starve to death. Most schooling fish kept as individuals will just "lay there" and exhibit moments of panic behavior where they will dash all through the water trying to escape. Adult females kept in solitary may become egg-bound and die from this condition.
7. Other miscellaneous problems with AquaBabies include difficulty in cleaning and changing such a small system, fish not having room to exercise, stunted or deformed fish and frogs, inability of the fish to experience their normal breeding behaviors if they reach adulthood, high propensity for owners to neglect or even forget about them (due to their inconspicuousness and supposed low need for maintenance), and more.
8. All of this can only serve to teach children and novice aquarists that this treatment of fish, snails, and frogs is acceptable, and that these animals only live a very short time. "Look, ma! Another dead fish! He lived a whole month this time! He must have died of old age!"
My conclusion: They should be called AquaVictims and after a few days or weeks, AquaCorpses.
False and Misleading Statements on the AquaBaby Web Site
1. Water changes are seldom necessary. (3-4 times a year)
2. Use only bottled water.
3. The tank only needs to be cleaned when the water becomes cloudy and/or there is debris covering the rocks, plants or tank.
4. Use only bottled spring water at room temperature for your aquarium.
5. Feed the fish only a small pinch of food once daily or every other day through the hole in the top using the tip of a toothpick.
6. Your fish need very little food to sustain them.
7. They can be fed daily or every other day and can easily be left for a weekend without food."
8. "Most of the fish we use have a one to two-year life span and will not get any larger than 1-4" long."
9. "Your fish will probably live longer under your care than in the wild where there are diseases and predators."
10. "Fish do not get lonely and one or two fish are fine in your little tank."
11. "Frogs need more feed than fish, if your frog seems to be getting smaller, increase the number of pellets.
Sentence by sentence, here are the reasons that this is dead wrong:
1. Water changes are very important and should be done every 1-4 weeks depending on tank size. With less than a gallon of water, water changes should be done at 30-50% every 1 to 3 DAYS.
2. Using bottled water to replace aquarium water is a pretty good idea, but, first, it is very expensive (I guess not if you only change some water 3 to 4 times a year!). Next most bottled water comes from some cities water supply which means there will still be a lot of impurities in it. This translates into still needing to use some type of dechlorinator or stress relief medication.
3. The water does not only need to be cleaned when the water is cloudy or there is debris. That means the system is crashing with high bacterial and fungal loads. It is usually too late by then. Such a small system as AquaBabies would most likely be covered in debris in a week or two, certainly not every 4 months! A well-maintained aquarium should NEVER go cloudy and will always have some debris on the rocks and other surfaces but not in excess.
4. In case you forgot, they remind you to use bottled water and say it should be room temperature. Really, I was going to boil it first!
5. What is a pinch? Why use a toothpick? Fish food sticks to a toothpick. I guess the lid is hard to get off. After all, if you are only changing the water every 3 to 4 months, why would you need to open it up. Fish should be fed as much as they will eat in a few minutes. That varies depending on the species and sizes of the fish being kept..
6. Huh? The fish need what they need. It may not be much but it is all relative to how big they are, how many there are, and what species they are.
7. Adult fish of these species could probably do fine being fed every day or two and skipping weekends (I guess so you can have them on your desk at work). But, these are babies, aren't they? The AquaBabies that I saw contained fry of about 2 to 4 months of age. At that age, they should be receiving mostly live foods like newborn brine shrimp and shredded black worms as well as being started on fish food flakes and freeze dried crustaceans and insects. Plus, they should be eating as much as they need (but no more) two to four times per day. Fry have high metabolisms and must eat a little bit of food often. They may survive being fed every two days by eating the rotten, excess food off of the bottom of the prison cell. It is precisely this rotting food that has killed off many of my fry (fungi and/or bacteria grow in it) and others as well which is why it is hard to raise fry without multiple feedings and daily vacuuming of the bottom of the tank. The AquaBabies with snails at least should not have this problem since the snail should eat the extra food and grow (too big that is).
8. Hey, they got something right! Most of these fish will stay under 4 inches. Huh? The chamber is only 4 inches! How will they ever fit? Alas, the rest of the sentence is ridiculous. While guppies and rosy red minnows only live about two years (I have had older ones though), all the rest of the fish contained in AquaBabies live at least 5 to 10 years. My oldest zebra danio is about five years old, and my oldest white cloud mountain minnow is near seven years old. I guess if you believe that the fish only is supposed to live a year, then you are not as disappointed when it dies too soon and can go buy another AquaBaby.
9. What care? You said not to do hardly anything! There are few water changes, no filtration, no cleaning the substrate, etc. Most fry in the wild are eaten so they do not live as long as AquaBabies; that is true. Nonetheless, these fish typically live at least two years in the wild if they escape predation. But, percentage-wise, many more fish in captivity die from diseases than in the wild. In the wild, natural processes keep diseases under control in large bodies of water in most cases. In less than a gallon of water, if a disease is present, it will wipe out all the fish shortly. Guess what? Some of the most disease-prone fish (due to mass production in overcrowded conditions, not due to any fault of the fish) are those being sold in AquaBabies. They chose those fish pure and simply because they are mass-produced, relatively small, and very cheap.
10. Who says fish do not get lonely? Did your fish tell you that? There is no proof that they do not get lonely. I have seen fish kept in solitary rejoin their own species. The increase in the fish's activity, feeding habits, and general mood is almost instant. Goldfish, for example, kept alone are known to sulk from lack of stimulation. Another big issue with this statement is that every single one of the fish sold with AquaBabies are schooling or shoaling fish. That means that they need each other's company to thrive. A solitary schooling fish will be too scared to exhibit normal behavior. Solitary white cloud mountain minnows are known to sulk and refuse to eat. They starve to death. Most schooling fish kept as individuals will sulk and exhibit moments of panic behavior where they will dash all through the water trying to escape. This flight behavior has led to many fish jumping to their death in tanks without lids. Adult females kept in solitary may become egg-bound and die from this condition. But, credit to the author in saying that it is a "little tank." It could not be much more little!
11. The bad grammar aside, this is stupid. Most small animals eat the same amount of food PER weight. Since the frog will probably be larger than the fish, naturally it will eat more. If your frog is getting smaller, I would not feed it more; I would remove it since it would either be dead or dying. Animals only get smaller if they are metamorphosing (like tadpole to frog, they can shrink), not eating enough, and/or are dying.
What to Do to Stop AquaBabies Visit the AquaBabies Boycott Web Site and sign their petition.
Visit the AquaBabies Web Site and let them know what you think.
Urge any store or chain of stores that carries them to stop selling them.
Do no buy AquaBabies, even to free the prisoners (I was VERY tempted) as this money just lines their pockets.
If you own an AquaBaby or know someone who does, remove the surviving animals and plants to a suitable aquarium setup. The animals will be elated.
Poll of AquaBaby Owners
The creator of AquaBabies claims that those of us who oppose their "product" only do so because we have never owned it. Everyone would like to hear from people who have bought and cared for AquaBabies. Please e-mail me with the answers to the following questions, and I will post them here (about 1-2 weeks turn around). My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org Do not be afraid to reply at either extreme. If you have had a good experience, we would like to hear that too. I will put the answers into a standard format and use your first name only. I will not reply to your response unless you ask me a relevant question. Thanks!
1. When did you purchase your first AquaBaby?
2. Which species were in your AquaBaby (if you know)?
3. Where did you buy your AquaBaby?
4. At the time of purchasing your AquaBaby, would you consider yourself a novice, intermediate, or advanced aquarist?
5. Why did you decide to buy the AquaBaby?
6. Did any of them die? If so, how long after purchase?
7. Did you upgrade to larger aquariums after this experience or give up fish-keeping all together?
8. Would you buy another AquaBaby?
9. In general, would you say that you were satisfied or dissatisfied with your purchase?