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Old 06-06-2012, 08:13 PM   #1 
princesskale's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Illinois
Question Tank size - Is this a misconception?

Greetings! I am new to the forum and I am also a new Betta owner. However, I have raised other types of fish - goldfish, bala sharks, tetras, etc.

While walking through a local pet shop recently, I observed the fish they had up for sale. They really did seem to be in good shape with a satisfactory environment.

...Then, I saw the Bettas.
My heart sank. I've always hated seeing them kept in those tiny cups. In this case, half of them seemed no more than lifeless. I had a brief conversation with a woman who worked there about the Bettas. I asked her what parameters she knew of that were suitable for Bettas.

I've never heard of any kind of fish that would remain happy and healthy in a cup, or in one gallon of water for that matter. To me, that is just absurd. I understand that they actually breathe air from the surface. But they live in water. Just because I gather my resources from the outside doesn't mean I can happily live in a small, cramped space. She never mentioned a heater or anything. But these fish are tropical. I've continued to keep my little friend in a 10-gallon by himself, just to see how he reacts. I have a low-flow filter, a submersible heater kept on 82 degrees F., and plenty of ornaments he can use for cover. He seems to be very happy so far.

What is it that makes Bettas supposedly much more different than other fish? My little fellow seems much happier.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:32 AM   #2 
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Location: formerly SF, then Tucson AZ, now central New Jersey
Ok, I am a few months new to this BUT here's my take on it: Because they CAN breathe air too and maybe sort of survive in the worst conditions . . . the pet store industry finds it convenient to tell people it's totally cool to just buy this fish, throw it in a bowl, and neglect it.

Someone who worked in an aquarium store said that pet store people lie to make sales. If they told someone you need a filter, heater, a larger tank, plants, hiding places, for a betta, then that person is going to say "forget it" and not buy their bratty kid a cheap fish and plastic hell-hole cage. So Petco just lost a sale by saying "they need more than that tiny plastic betta keeper".

People make money selling those horrible peace lily vases with a betta in it, they make money telling people to buy bettas to put as table decor for their wedding in a 1/4 gallon bowl with some crappy marbles and telling their guests to take it home as a favor and they don't have to buy much more than betta food for it.

Here's what makes them different: If you did that with a fish that can't also breath air from the surface, it would die. Bettas mostly just suffer but stay alive for a while. So people can get away with the lie that they are just fine that way.

Just my theories . ..

BTW I bought my first one on a whim with a tiny glass 1/2 gallon bowl. But I did an amazing thing when I got home: I GOOGLED betta care. My betta had a new home the next day. I couldn't believe I was so dumb to think something was fine in a 1/2 gallon piece of crap bowl.

Last edited by dramaqueen; 06-07-2012 at 03:57 PM. Reason: profanity
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:38 AM   #3 
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Oh- by the way, if we want to stop this stuff there are a few things we can do. I am on Pinterest and I search "bettas" on there. I attach a link to this website or bettatalk or any article explaining what bettas really need to be happy under every photo people post of horribly small betta bowls. I try to do it in a nice way saying something like "Oh that is pretty but I have learned that it's actually not true that they can be ok in that set up- here is a link or please google it yourself". Once a girl wrote to me that my comment was appreciated and she had moved her bettas to a nicer set up.

I also signed a petition someone here had to ask Petco to stop selling bowl/tanks smaller than 1 gallon. I bet you could find that online too.

I added a comment on Petco's website that I, as a consumer/customer of Petco, would really appreciate it if they housed their bettas in bigger cups and took better care of them. I had reviewed their bookshelf aquarium kit and after they show you another box where they want your opinion on what could be better. So I told them.

I think if we all try to take opportunities to say something when we can about how the treatment of bettas displeases us, someone somewhere might change things.

I am thinking about whether I should boycott Petco and just get my next bettas at the local aquatic store which puts them up in much larger containers with a live plant and substrate for each one. I never saw healthier looking bettas in a store. It would be worth the extra few dollars.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:06 AM   #4 
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I tell people the truth when they look at our bettas, but we don't have a lot of choice with how we keep them. Half our tanks have semi aggressive fish or fin nippers, a small amount have cold water for goldfish, and all of them have powerful filters that are much too strong for bettas. When we can get away with it we put bettas in the community fish tanks. We have one two gallon set up as a betta kit we keep one betta in. But if we had that set up for every betta we got in, we would have no room for anything else. I do tell everyone that it is meant only as a temporary home, and describe ammonia as being the carbon monoxide of the fish world, that it can poison them just as CO can poison us.

So there is a reason for the cups, but they never have and never should be considered a permanent home, and I clean them every couple of days personally whenever I'm scheduled to work. I have a ten gallon and a 2.5 for my two boys and never recommend anything less to our customers, though some of my managers disagree with me because it sells less fish. My coworkers have started to refer those looking for betta help to me, calling me the 'betta expert', lol.

Also, just to set the scene, I'm a cashier in the local Pet Supplies Plus. We have to carry a LOT more than just fish stuff, so we don't have the extra space for tons of betta tanks when the bettas usually only stay in the store for a couple of weeks max. ((We sell a lot, I do my best to make sure they go in at least semi good conditions. Some people are stubborn about bettas not needing a heater, and there's nothing I can do about that, no one agrees with me that we shouldn't sell them to people based on whether or not they have a heater.))

Last edited by SweetNightmare; 06-07-2012 at 01:10 AM.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:20 AM   #5 
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Oh.. . when I rip on Petco or Petsmart, I mostly mean the people higher up who set the conditions. You sound like you are a friend to the fishies. :)

I totally get that you can't keep these guys in mansions because there is no room. I just don't get why my Petco always has SO MANY bettas when clearly they are NOT selling very fast. Since I am new in town and live 5 minutes from my Petco, I have free time enough that I am in my Petco a lot and notice the same fish there for a really long time, now it's been the same ones for something like a month.

There are blue and red veiltails in the front betta display, about 15 I would say.

Then there are the others, King, Crowntails, Doubletails, Halfmoons, females, Plakats, at a different display- about 20 to 30 more.

There are about 8 "Baby betta" on another shelf.

They aren't moving. They sit there week to week. Why is my Petco ordering SO MANY of them?

And my other complaint is them selling teeny tiny containers for them. I saw on a betta Flickr group that in other countries it is illegal to keep a fish in such a small container. It should be here too.

But it isn't your fault, SweetNightmare. It's whoever is higher up at the decision-making level of Petco or Petsmart. (My Petsmart keeps only about 20 or 30 bettas at a time, and sometimes they run out. I think that is more humane, however it's farther away from me.)
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:41 AM   #6 
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omg those king bettas are my biggest peeves... they are Twice the size of a normal betta and definitely CANNOT even turn around, why cant they get a cup thats atleast TWICE the size?
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:03 AM   #7 
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Mursey- Your Petco will probably stop carrying as many bettas soon if they aren't selling. They are remodeling and redoing a lot of the stores atm. My Petco had an isle of bettas, and dropped the number down to about maybe 20 total. (If that) One small shelf and side rack + a separate shelf for babies. Baby betta count is usually 4-8.

SweetNightmare: I got my first betta from Pet Supplies Plus. :D A doubletail. Since I got my guy, the bettas at the store by me went to just veiltails.

Welcome to the forum btw kelseyleah :) Good to see you have a happy betta in a mansion of a tank. :D Are you going to make it a community tank eventually?
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:22 AM   #8 
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Kelsy, to answer your question...bettas have PERSONALITY.

They're smart and can distinguish things. Have you see how a bettas 'dances' in front of their tank when it's feeding time? Or how they observe you or become curious about things? They're like a dog or cat you can't hug, but you can still love them like you can.

They can recognize you and certain objects/movements, and even learn a few tricks if you have the patience! :3
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:58 AM   #9 
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Originally Posted by kelseyleah343 View Post
I understand that they actually breathe air from the surface. But they live in water. Just because I gather my resources from the outside doesn't mean I can happily live in a small, cramped space.
Welcome to the forum, Kelsey! This is a beautiful analogy for why betta shouldn't be in tiny tanks. Very well-worded.

To answer your question, betta are very hardy fish. And it seems like the hardiest fish get the worst treatment simply because they can survive it (much like the ill-treated goldfish ). It's the mindset of "because I can, I will." Might doesn't make right.

There is also the problem of misinformation. People just don't know how to properly take care of these fish. They get their care information from pet store employees who don't know a betta from a tetra. Many users here work to spread proper care information.

Last edited by thekoimaiden; 06-07-2012 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 06-07-2012, 03:33 PM   #10 
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Twilight Storm - I hope to! I'm going to give him a few weeks to make sure that he is positively healthy, and hopefully move him in with my Tetras. I'm slowly becoming addicted to Bettas. Out of the fish I've had, I've never seen one with so much personality!
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