Dear Mr. Myers,
My family and I have been customers of Petco for many years now, and have always been happy with the service provided by the employees and the products we have purchased. However, some months ago I started keeping Betta fish, and what I have found in Petco stores is nothing short of appalling. The tiny cups they are kept in are filled with excrement, moldy food, and undoubtedly enormous quantities of ammonia. Unfortunately, the water is not the only issue with the condition of these animals; the fish themselves are sick and dying.
I see diseases of all kinds afflicting the Betta fish, from Swim Bladder Disease to a Body Slime Infection, and I see them every single time I enter a Petco store. Aside from the gravely ill Betta fish, without fail I have to point out at least one Betta that is already deceased, lying completely unnoticed in his dirty little cup. I have photos of multiple Bettas I have purchased that depict the poor quality of life I have just described, which will be included on the last two pages of this letter. These conditions are disturbing and completely unacceptable for a company who sells and claims to care about their animals. Another serious concern is the care sheet for these fish that contain numerous incorrect facts and requirements for proper care.
The first and one of the most important pieces of misinformation listed on the Petco Betta care sheet is the minimum size for the tank. The care sheet states: “Male Bettas… do best in containers of one liter (approximately a quarter of a gallon) or larger.” This is very far from the truth. Most Betta enthusiasts will agree that the absolute minimum size for a Betta is one gallon, and that is only if complete water changes are done every other day, and other care requirements are also met. Also, stating that Bettas need temperatures of “72-82 F” (which should actually be 76-84 F) would mean that for the majority of household to achieve that temperature a heater would be required. Safely heating a tank as small as one quarter of a gallon is not possible, and will also not fit in a container of that size. Maintaining a safe aquarium to keep fish healthy is extremely important, and that is also an area where the care sheet is lacking.
“Do a complete change for small bowls (less than 2 gallons) once a week.” Following this guideline will cause the tank to be overloaded with ammonia, and ultimately make the Betta sick and die. As stated above, small one gallon tanks should be changed completely every other day to keep the environment safe for the Betta. Also, larger aquariums need a 25% change every week, not ever 2-4 weeks, and that is if they are cycled (which they should be). They are like any other tropical fish and need to have clean water in order to be healthy and live a full life.
Finally, the diet and feeding sections are not accurate and do not reflect the nutritional needs of these fish. Flaked foods should not be part of a Bettas’ diet, and instead should be fed pellets made especially for them. Frozen treats such as bloodworms should be just that, treats, and only given once a week to prevent over feeding. As for feeding directions, “Feed sparingly 3 times per week and no more than fish can eat in 3-5 minutes”, that is a recipe for a dirty tank and an over fed Betta. Betta fish should be fed about four individual pellets every day, and fasted once a week to prevent bloating. As you can see, the care sheet provided by Petco does not accurately list the proper care requirements for these fish, and misleads many customers which eventually will result in a sickly and poorly cared for Betta.
Something else I would like to bring to your attention that I know is very important to Petco; profits. Promoting incorrect care to make small (but very numerous) sales is a very disappointing practice, and it’s unfortunate that things have gone so far as to cause the deaths of countless animals who don’t deserve the treatment they receive. However, I believe that if Petco were to promote proper Betta care, profits would increase as the customers would be spending much more on the necessary supplies. Buying a more acceptable tank, such as a 2 gallon or more, is going to cost more money than a small, quarter of a gallon container. Plus, if the customer buys a heater, thermometer, proper food, gravel, and plants, they will be spending even more. Therefore, properly caring for these animals benefits the Bettas themselves, your customers, and your company. On the other hand, if Petco continues this pattern of neglect, it will cause customers (like myself) to look elsewhere for healthy Bettas, and a decline in profits will soon follow.
Whether thinking of trying to provide better conditions for your Bettas for their sake, a combination of reasons, or simply just to increase profits, there is nothing to lose by allowing these animals to live better lives. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and I hope that it will encourage you to make changes regarding the care of these wonderful little fish.
Cristina (Last name is included, but I'm leaving it out online)
Kindness and respect should be shown to all animals, no matter if they are furry, scaly, big, or small. Be a hero to the animals and GO VEGAN!