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Do Apartments Allow Fish Tanks?

Here’s What You Need to Know

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Apartment living comes with a lot of rules. It’s understandable. You’ve got a lot of people living in close quarters and people want to retain the value of the property by keeping it in good shape. Owners and management get together to set rules and regulations everyone must follow.

Many of the rules in apartments revolve around what can go inside your unit and what needs approval. For a lot of people, finding an apartment that will allow dogs and other pets can be a challenge. Most of the time when you can find them, having a pet usually comes with a surcharge on your rent every month.

But what about fish? Do those count as pets? They certainly shouldn’t be in the same category as dogs, where you have to worry about irresponsible owners leaving messes or, heaven forbid, biting someone.

Do apartments allow fish? Most do. Complexes and buildings that don’t are the exception, not the rule.

However, you shouldn’t take this for granted. There have been people who have signed leases only to find out on the move-in day that fish aren’t permitted. Play it safe and follow these rules to make sure.

small fish tank aquarium inside an apartment

Consult the Rules Before You Sign

If you’re doing an apartment search and you already own fish, just tick the box and ask the manager or read the rules. Unfortunately, a lot of apartment buildings have a ‘no pets’ policy without going into detail about what constitutes a pet. No pet rocks?

When in doubt, call up the management and ask them about whether they restrict. Usually, they’ll want to know how big of a tank we’re talking about and how many fish. There’s a difference between a few goldfish and a large tank that fills a room.

Are Fish Considered Pets in a No Pet Apartment?

Sorry to say, but it depends.

You may be surprised, but apartment buildings with “hard” no pet policies allow fish all of the time.

The blanket policy is typically in place to prevent a ton of inquiries about cats, dogs, birds, and other larger pets that require more time and energy in terms of upkeep, need to use the restroom outside or will leave dander behind in the apartment after you’re gone.

Since fish don’t stink and they don’t make noise, these places will give you a pass. It’s the same thinking as something like an ant farm or pet worms for a kid’s school project. They won’t make a fuss as long as the pets don’t disturb other tenants or potentially cause property damage.

Stricter Apartment Complexes Will Restrict the Size of Your Aquarium

If apartments restrict fish tanks, they probably only do so for tanks that are a certain size. The landlord may ask you how many feet it measures or how many gallons it holds.

How big of a fish tank can be in an apartment? For larger apartment complexes, there may even be a limit on how big the tank can be, say 20 gallons, etc.

In many cases, you can get a larger tank into a no-pet apartment, but the management or the landlord may require you to have a renter’s insurance in place before you move in to protect them in the event it breaks and causes significant property damage.

Again, the best thing to do is just ask whoever you’re leasing with so both of you are clear on what should happen.

a toddler standing on a stool chair to look at the fish tank in their apartment

Can an Apartment Manager Evict You Because of Fish?

In reality, a landlord or an apartment manager can evict you if you don’t follow any of the rules outlined in the lease terms. That includes having fish in your apartment.

If the lease says “no pets” and the landlord/manager agrees to let you have a small fish tank, we advise that you get that exception in writing. Although it’s unlikely, not doing so could end up haunting you.

Think about a situation in which a landlord wants to sell and the buyer demands that no tenants are living in the apartment?

They want the deal, so will be looking for ways to get you out. If you don’t want to move, they could try to find a loophole like saying you’re breaking your lease by having fish in the apartment.

Be on the safe side and just ask them to write it into the lease before you sign. If you’re getting the fish in the middle of a lease, you should think about whether it’s too much trouble to get the lease reworded or if you just want to go with the flow.

Most issues with small fish tanks come up when the landlord discovers that there are fish in the house and asks you to remove them. If you refuse, then they could move to evict you.

The bottom line is, if the lease says “no pets”, they can evict you if you have animals in the house.

Play It Safe So You Can Enjoy Your Fish

A mother and daughter feeding fish in the fish tank

Fish are great apartment pets. They don’t need a lot of maintenance, and you don’t need to take them out to use the bathroom every day. Most people love the white noise from the tanks, and staring at your fish can be very zen.

Clear buying a fish tank with your landlord before you spend the money. No one wants to spend money on fish and all of the accessories only to hear that they’re not allowed in the unit. Most landlords won’t make a fuss about a small fish tank, but why take the chance?

Write your apartment manager or give them a quick call and ask about whether fish fall under the strict no pets policy. If they approve, you’re good to go and can start thinking about which types of fish you want to bring home!