I am not even sure if I am allowed to have a pet fish in my dorm room, but I do. He's a great conversation piece when people come in the room and he keeps me company as I stress at my desk doing work. However, there are some costs when it comes to keeping a pet in your dorm.
1. People act like they have never seen a fish before.
The number of people that have entered my room and asked ignorant questions about my fish is actually astounding. "Is that a fish!?!" No, it's a hamster. Of course it's a fish. "Is it alive?" No, I keep a dead fish on my desk because that's completely normal. Yes, he is alive, he's just not moving at the moment. Do people ask if you are dead if you're taking a nap during the day? Didn't think so.
2. People ask what your fish's name is and they offer their opinion.
I am not changing the name of my fish simply because you don't like the name of MY fish. His name is Phish, pronounced as 'fish' but with a 'ph' for sophistication (cheesy, I know). The kid who lives across the hall from me came in once and states, "I don't like the name Phish, it should be named Weed." Why would I ever think that it is a good idea to name my pet after cannabis?
3. Getting filtered water for the fish tank is a nightmare.
Fish are supposed to have filtered water in their tanks, not tap water, unless you have this special powder stuff to purify the tap water, which I do not. There is a purified drinking water fountain on the first floor of my building so I carry the tank all of the way down the stairs from the top floor to fill it up. The number of dirty/weird looks that I get along the way are amazing.
4. Cleaning a fish tank weekly in a communal bathroom is no walk in the park.
Carrying a fish tank down the hall with fishy-smelling water spilling all over you is not fun, and kind of gross. Mind you, you are also carrying a ton of supplies: the net to scoop out the fish from the tank, a sponge, a roll of paper towels, and a red Solo cup to put the fish in when you clean the tank (supplies are limited in a college kid's dorm).
The best is when people walk in and give you strange looks because you look like a frazzled mess slaving over the fish tank. The worst is when the bathroom is crowded because this process requires a significant amount of space but you don't want to annoy your floor-mates.
5. You live in constant fear that the fish is going to die.
Believe or not, a college dorm room is a ridiculously harsh environment. In college, everyone gets sick, so I am constantly spraying Lysol all over the place. Sometimes, the water in the fish tank traps the particles and a disgusting film of poisons and chemicals builds up on the top of the water. I also got lazy so I switched to using tap water in the tank. My roommate and I often host wild pregames in our dorm and I always fear that some idiot is going to pour alcohol in my innocent fish's tank because drunk people make dumb decisions. Well, I am a terrible fish owner, I know. However, I must be doing something right considering that he has been alive for almost six months!