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Recent study says fish can feel pain

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MOORHEAD—Fish are alike to humans in one way, they can feel pain according to a recent study in the Smithsonian magazine.

This has aquatic store managers feeling especially fishy about newcomers.

Meet Starfire, a betta fish adopted by MSUM freshman Breck Stutz back in October.

"I wanted a blue betta particularly because blue is, if you hadn't noticed, my favorite color," said Breck.

He picked up Starfire at the local Petco, saying this is his way of keeping his wallet under control.

"My money would primarily go to caring for and feeding the fish so that I would restrain my budget," said Breck.

While fish may not 'feel' in the same way, a Smithsonian study confirms all fish like Starfire can feel pain.

Like a faithful owner Breck did loads of research before adopting, cleaning the tank once a week as instructed, but other freshman were the subject of Jayce Harmanson's work nightmares.

"When I worked over at Petco, I did see a lot of people who just really wanted something in their dorm room to take care of," said Jayce.

Fish are one of the few pets allowed on metro campuses, she says this causes many students to spontaneously dive into the hobby without first doing their homework.

"They try goldfish which is kind of hilarious because goldfish can get over a foot," said Jayce.

Most fish require at least ten gallons of water, filters, and lots of maintenance, like their Black Tang, who's worth about $2,000.

"He is the most expensive fish in the store," said Jayce.

It's why she says Bettas are a great place to start.

"They're very personable. They'll come and greet you. They really love being fed. They'll kind of like wiggle their tails at you," said Jayce.

While five gallons is the recommended minimum she says they can live comfortably in smaller tanks as long the water is properly cleaned every week.

"Bettas are fairly easy to take care of," said Breck.

Since getting Starfire, Breck says he's had no problems keeping up with proper care techniques, he even gave him a roommate.

Joyce says the typical volume limit for fish tanks on a college campus is ten gallons.