Tap Fish is developed by Gameview Studios, the people behind Tap Ranch. This simple Android game lets you care for a range of fish and marine life, from neon tetras and goldfish to basking sharks, sea turtles and mermaids, from birth until they reach maturity. You then sell them for a profit, giving you extra cash to spend on more exotic species.
Gameplay is straightforward. You select eggs from the Store, then click within the tank to buy the fish. You can have up to 25 different species in one tank, with a maximum of 50 fish. It's free to add a second tank, 2,000 coins for a third, 4,000 for a fourth, 6,000 for a fifth, and so on. You can move fish between tanks using the Inventory.
Each fish can take between 4 hours and 20 days to reach maturity, within which time you must keep them well-fed and loved, and purchase decorations from the Store (up to 12 different types are allowed in each tank) to increase their Happiness level. You also need to keep their tank free from algae. The more satisifed and sophonsified they are in adulthood, the more coins you'll get for selling them.
Note that using the Sell command in My Aquarium incurs a 15 percent commission, and you'll lose any bonuses earned for each fish. To maximise your profits you should individually select fish for sale.
The real profits lie in breeding, however. There are 40 possible combinations for each breedable species, with trophies awarded for a successful pairing. We made most of our money breeding the White Grunt (4,200 coins) with the Boxfish (26,000 coins), resulting in a Box Grunt that sells for 35,211 coins before bonuses.
These are, in effect, free fish, since you've already paid for the fish you bred to produce them. The problem is the amount of time it takes to do so: you must breed two fish in a special tank, then wait three days before you can transfer the egg to your main tank. In the case of the Box Grunt, it then takes another one day 12 hours for the fish to reach maturity and become saleable. You also get only one tank; a second costs 30,000 coins, but thereafter you'll need 30 Fish bucks (more on this later).
Gameview Studios regularly updates Tap Fish, adding new species, decorations and backgrounds; it also added a couple of quests in the few weeks we spent playing the game. The first gave you a female crab, then encouraged you to catch a male partner; the second did the same with seahorses. The fish themselves have no value, and to our disappointment we found that breeding them resulted in a lot of wasted time and an offspring worth only 10 coins. However, you can then enter various breeding competitions, where coupling a given number of event fish wins you a prize, from plants and decorations to wallpapers.
A small 'Win daily' icon at the bottom right of the screen gives you another chance to win prizes. Click this icon once a day for a free bonus, usually a Fish buck or a couple of hundred coins; on the fifth day you get a jackpot spin. Our first three jackpot spins won us a mug, a lunchbox and a school bus – somewhat random, but worth in the region of 3,000 to 4,000 coins each – while the fourth scored us a Red Starfish, which should help keep algae under control in one of our tanks.
See also: Tap Ranch for Android review
As with Tap Ranch, Experience (Xp) points are awarded every time you feed your fish, plant some eggs, sell an adult, and so on. You need 2,000 Xps to level-up, and you get bonus coins and a Fish buck as a reward. This also unlocks new fish, plants and decorations.
The difference in Tap Fish, however, is that it takes an awfully long time to gain the Xps necessary to move on to the next level. We were so fed up with waiting to reach the next level that we purchased four new tanks and grew a series of Green Snappers (which reach adulthood in 4 hours) to increase the game's pace. Unfortunately, this also meant we had to put in more time and effort to keep the extra 200 fish content. Even so, we still spent significantly less time playing this game than Tap Ranch.
You must feed your fish every 48 hours to prevent them starving. Alternatively, you can buy a food brick that'll last between three and 60 days. Forget to do so, and you'll either have to write off the fish or use a Fish buck to revive them. Fish bucks follow the same principle as Ranch bucks in Tap Ranch: you earn one every time you level-up, or you buy them with real cash. And they are similarly expensive: 20 Fish bucks cost $1.99 (£1.29), while 1,300 cost $99.99 (£64.89). Likewise, you can also earn them for free by installing apps suggested by the developer, rating the game in the Android Market and allowing automatic updates.
We can almost understand why some people might be prepared to part with their real-life money in Tap Ranch, given the amount of time and effort they've invested in the game, but the same can't be said for Tap Fish. Many of the breedable fish must be bought with Fish bucks, but a good number is available using coins. In Tap Ranch, you can't wait to get the coins together to afford your sheep, whether or not you have the Ranch bucks to afford the premium version; here, it matters not whether you're using coins or Fish bucks and whether you're purchasing a Piranha or a Lollipop fish. They reach adulthood, and you sell them… for coins. And you're back to square one, with more coins than you can spend and no Fish bucks.
Tap Fish is a popular Android app, with more than 5 million users. But we just didn't get it. We didn't know what to do next, or what our ultimate goal was. Yes, we could decorate a tank with special wallpaper, plants and accessories, then fill it with Deep Sea fish or sharks, but then what? We could even set one of our fish tanks as a live wallpaper, but we didn't want to.
Gameview Studios has added many themed decorations to add enjoyment to the game, but we found them ridiculous. We've certainly never heard of terradactyls, pandas, parrots, tigers, cavemen, elephants and monkeys living at the bottom of the sea, neither have we seen any slot machines, ferris wheels, balloon rides or clapper boards.
Annoyingly, your Android tablet or smartphone must be connected to the internet to play Tap Fish. However, likeTap Ranch, this lets you add friends or random neighbours, whose tanks you can visit and fish you can feed.