I reached out to several local pet smarts and PETCOs with concerns regarding the care of bettas in their stores... today I received this reply from one petsmart... SMH...
I am glad to hear your betta is thriving in its new environment and I appreciate your concern for the bettas in our care. The betta fish in our care are well cared for and the associates here are all lovers of animals of all types and only want the best for all of our pets here in the store. Bettas do not put off ammonia at a extreme level like goldfish so they don't require daily water changes which is why bettas are the only fish that can live without a filtered tank. Doing daily water changes is actually not good for bettas or any other fish, it is to disruptive to their ecosystem and actually does more harm to their wellbeing. We do water changes several times a week and inspect their wellbeing daily to ensure they are all healthy and happy. As for the fin rot you mentioned seeing, I believe you are mistaking the natural tail that the crowntail bettas have. They are stringy fins not the solid fins that regular male bettas have. I can see how you could think it was fin rot but I can assure you it is not and is their natural tail. I hope I addressed your concerns and feel free to reach out to me or my Petcare Manager Mellissa with any other concerns or questions
And here is my response!
Thank you for your response I appreciate you taking the time to address my concerns. I would just like to comment on a few of the things that were said in your email.
Firstly all fish produce waste and therefore produce ammonia, and in those tiny cups the ammonia builds up very very quickly. After reading your email I decided to get a betta from petsmart and test the water myself. Even though you claim that the water is changed frequently enough, and that the bettas don't produce much ammonia, the test of the water revealed an ammonia level of nearly 4ppm. Any ammonia is problematic for fish, and levels over .25ppm are potentially fatal, the fact that this betta is still alive is amazing.
Bettas do not require filters because of an organ they possess known as a labyrinth organ, which allows them to breathe from the surface. It has nothing to do with the amount of waste and ammonia that they produce. With that theory you could argue that small fish such as neon tetras, who produce less ammonia then bettas do, can live in tanks without filters, which simply isn't true.
As for the water change concern, daily water changes will do much less damage to the fish, and cause him much less stress, then allowing the ammonia levels to build up in the cups will. I change 100% of the water in my 1 gallon tanks every other day, it does not stress the fish out much at all, in fact they love the fresh water they get.
I do not want to come off as rude but, as a someone who has been keeping these fish for over 8 years, I assure you that I know the difference between a crowntail and a betta with fin rot.
Fin rot is a bacterial infection most often caused by poor water quality. Fin rot is easy to spot, the betta will display patches of missing fins, the infected area of the fins will have a black or brown outline, the fins will appear to be rotting off. Fin rot in itself is serious, and can lead to even more serious ailments such as body rot or blood poisoning (septecemia) both of which are potentially fatal. Fin rot is easy to prevent and relatively easy to cure. Clean, warm, ammonia free water is the key.
Both of those fish are now healthy and beginning to grow their tails back. I do hope that you will read this and really take into consideration all of the information that I am providing you. I would like to believe you when you say that the bettas at your store are well taken care of, but the finrot on the fish, the cloudy water, the dead bettas, and other problems that I witness with my own eyes when I go in your store speak louder then your words.
I hope to hear back from you after you read this, and I thank you for hearing me out.
I am just so aggravated!!! I hope they read the email and really listen to what I have to say!!
Wow I'm so gald that someone is actually talking to PetSmart people about this! I can't believe they thought we could mistake fin rot for a crowntail(....I laughed out loud when I read that) I hope they write back so we can see what they say. :)
Wow, just wow. If you went public with this it would wind up on some important news source. Maybe we should all join forces and write an investigative report on this. Then they would REALLY squirm. The bit about fin rot vs. crowntail was unbelievable. Even someone with no experience with fish would be able to see if an animal was sick or not.
Moon, what was the original message you sent to them? I'm wanting to make a similar email and send it to the managers of my local petco/smart. What a fantastic response, I would be HIGHLY surprised if you get a response back.
I walked into Petco today and was astonished to see that all the cups had clean water, there were no dead or diseased betta, and several actually had bubble nests with vibrant and interactive little males.
Moonshadow, you are awesome! How insulting that they would assume we don't know the difference between crowntails and finrot! I once tested the water that Freya came in and I believe it was also around 4ppm, perhaps a little higher. Hope they reply!