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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I plan to start up a sorority in a couple weeks. After looking into options of where to buy the ladies and looking for breeders, I have come to an ethical dilemma.

I would love to rescue as many bettas as I can from terrible conditions and give them a good life, such as the sad sad ladies at places like petsmart. But by "rescuing" a bunch of females from petstores, am I really doing much good? I inevitably am supporting Petsmart and their betta sales. They will stock more to replace whatever I buy. On the other hand though, it is just so very hard to see bettas that are miserable or barely hanging on to life and not want to save them.

I am really torn by this, but I think for my sorority I would prefer to support a local breeder and buy them all from them. I feel like the fish are probably treated better and properly cared for. Is that true though?

What do you guys think?
 

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There are always two sides of the coin. On one hand, if you rescue from Petsmart, it might not make a dent on the amount of neglected fishes they have. But on the other hand, that's a whole world of difference for those babies you DID pick up. This is why I'm an animal welfare activist. Rescuing one animal doesn't change the number of animals in need out there. But that is still one soul rescued.

Another thing to consider: NOT all Petsmarts treat their fishes badly. It depends heavily on each store's management. If your store sucks, *complaint*! Ask for a manager and explain your concerns. Lots of people here do that and has seen results. About the breeder thing, trust me they don't need your help. They make their profit from selling well-structured fishes for those who seek for show quality and breeding-worthy Bettas. That being said, say you weren't asking about ethical issues here, I would recommend the local breeders. Not because I'm against capitalism or whatever but because they are the ones that will give you healthy, well-maintained animals.

So I suppose the question is: what's your aim? Do you want a fish with guaranteed health, or do you want to rescue?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You make some awesome points there!

I still feel very conflicted. I wonder if a local store would be a good middle ground. At the same time, they probably get their bettas from the same place the big chains do.

I don't usually think so much about other fish in this way which is weird. The fish industry is pretty brutal and there is a lot of loss of life. I do buy other fish from Petsmart so I am still supporting them, but I somehow feel different about bettas and how they are treated. I guess it's because they are generally solitary fish and are put in small individual containers rather than a filtered tank with others. Also because their appearance is such a huge part in whether or not someone buys them. Other fish, like neons, generally all look the same. Its not like an "ugly" one would be stuck in a cup for months and months (or even longer) like a betta would.
 

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I don't know what your local pet store does, but if you're anywhere near Lansing, MI you're welcome to visit mine. They will tell you which fish they bought from somebody else and which they bred themselves. The girls live in a massive 20-30 (can't tell, the tank is built into the wall) gal community tank. The boys still live in their own cups, but you can just see that they are well cared for. Clear water, active fishes, vibrant colors, all the signs are there. I also heard that once they refuse to sell a goldfish to somebody because they're apparently planning to keep it in a bowl! How awesome is that :D

... Either way. Just tour both Petsmart and your local shop. Find one that catches your eye.
 

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There's this story going around about a guy who walks the beach every day and picks up beached starfish and tosses them back into the ocean. Another guy comes up to him and asks why he's doing what he's doing. "There are hundreds of starfish here you can't possibly save all of them, it won't make a difference to all of them" the guy bends down, picks up a starfish and tosses it back in. "I made a difference to that one". (Not the story word for word but the general concept)

I see buying bettas from Petsmart/Petco the same way. You may not be able to make a difference for all of them but you can make a difference for the ones you purchase. It's ultimately up to you whether to go with a breeder vs chain pet store but either way you are making a world of difference to those females. Even more so if you go for some from petsmart/petco. Most of my fish are from Petsmart/Petco or a local pet store in a town nearby my school, with the exception of my 3 from the Betta Shop. A couple of them were sitting in those cups for a very long time. Braveheart is actually blind most likely due to the fact he sat in the same water for almost a month and a half (i'm pretty sure seeing how dirty the water was). My CT female Zeniba stunted her growth in the cup and probably won't get much bigger than she is now (She's only about a centimeter and a half long body to end of tail.). Yes, they'd be better quality fish if I got them from a breeder most likely, but I made a world of difference getting them vs more from the Betta Shop who all go to pretty good homes and are all very well taken care of at the store.

That's not saying I wouldn't go back to the Betta Shop. I love their fish selection and i will always support them. But, if I can make a difference in a petstore fish's life, even if it is for a short while, then at least I made their last few days/weeks/months/years happy and painfree.
 

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Personally, if you are doing a sorority, set it up with females purchased from a breeder that takes excellent care of their stock.

Sororities are high-stress environments. As stress can be a trigger for disease in fish, I always recommend choosing individuals that are in peak physical health. Sorority tanks are not the sort of environment you want to be attempting to rehabilitate fish in.

Often, bettas in stores are exposed to declining water quality, contagious disease, and fluctuating temperatures. All of this has a negative effect on their health. Their immune systems are usually weakened by the stress and poor conditions, and further stress can have catastrophic effects.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Everyone has valid points. I love this discussion of either side. It's very interesting to see people's opinions.

I do agree that helping improve lives where possible is very important and even if you can't help all the animals in the world, you can improve an animal's whole world. I'm a vegan, so my whole life is about animal welfare and well being. I really love the idea of being able to provide a good life for as many animals that have been wronged as I can.

However, when I think about this same scenario but in the world of dogs I have a more clear opinion.
- Priority #1 getting animals from shelters and from people who can no longer properly take care of them.
- Priority #2 Buying from a local breeder.

I do not agree with puppy mills and under no circumstances do I agree with buying dogs from a pet store because that only provides business for the puppy mills.

I understand that raising and living conditions of puppy mills and mass produced betta farms are different and that the degree of suffering the organisms experience is different, however, I think that provides a decent comparison.

I agree too LittleBettaFish that if I was just going to have a betta on its own a rescue would be fine, but for this sort of situation it might be too stressful. Also, with a breeder I can get bettas that are already used to being together (possibly sisters). Adding in some pet store bettas makes me worried about disease and unforeseen issues that might arise. I lost my male betta of 3 years very suddenly and I don't know what went wrong so I am very worried about loosing more fish.

I feel like a breeder is the safest option with highest success rate, but I feel selfish not helping out the sad fishies.

I feel like buying rescues is a bit more risky, and I feel guilty supporting the stores that would condone those conditions for their bettas.

Maybe I should get half from a breeder and half from a local store that treats them well but to compromise I will take the ladies that have been there the longest. :p I know a local store that has ladies in a tank together rather than the little cups.

I might never make a decision at this rate.
 

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Uh oh, no. I'm afraid in a sorority setting if you do "half and half" the healthier girls will beat up the rescued girls. Don't worry about the Petsmart fishes. You're not the only person that is interested in buying them. And like I said if you're worried, complaint to the manager. That helps a lot more than buying all the cupped Bettas.

As for your connection to the K9 world, I guess the main issue is that we don't have rescue groups/shelters for Bettas. So we really only have two options: breeder, or Petsmart/Petco. With dogs, you have three: shelter, breeder, or puppy mill. So it's easy to avoid one because even if you do you still have two other options to suit your needs. With Bettas, it's either one of the extremes. Plus, Bettas don't actually suffer just because they're being placed in a cup. They're also pretty hard to breed. The sheer fact that the fries survive at all means the breeder knows at least a little about what they're doing. So, technically, the practice of breeding Bettas to supply Petco itself is not exactly cruelty. Problem arises when they end up in a store with poor management that cannot/will not provide them with all their needs.

With dogs, any idiot with a female and a male can breed. They can also easily *overbreed*, and te pratice of keeping dogs in a small cage for extended periods of time IS hurting them. Two different worlds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
When I said do half and half I meant half from a breeder and the other half still healthy, but from a local small store where they are treated well. There wouldn't be any sick fishies or injuried fishies to be picked on, that'd be cruel. But maybe the ladies that aren't the absolute prettiest and therefore have been waiting a bit longer for a home.

For simplicity sake it might be easier to just get them all from a breeder that way they all arrive at the same time and can be put into the tank at the same time without me having to have 6 different tanks :p
 

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I would be cautious to use the term "rescue" when purchasing fish from a store. Rescue implies on some moral ground that you heroically pulled these fish from the brink of death and like someone already mentioned, not all stores are that terrible in the treatment of their bettas. Buying a fish from the shop is just that: buying a fish from a store who provides a product/service that you want.

That said, find a local fish shop and ask where the bettas come from. In my hometown the fish shop gets their bettas, and all their different angel fish, from a local breeder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I know not all stores are like that. That's why I specifically said big chains. This thread was about doing just that, rescuing bettas from terrible terrible conditions. I was shopping at a store near petsmart and decided to pop in. The female bettas in there looked haggard and weren't moving. I didn't know they were alive until I moved my hand near them and they moved there eyes ever so slightly. I wanted to buy them all and take them home, but if I did that, I would be condoning this treatment and more bettas would be ordered to replace those I bought and eventually they would look like the ones I saw that day.

Thats what this post is about. It's not about how bad pet stores are, it's about rescuing bettas in poor conditions.
 

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When I said do half and half I meant half from a breeder and the other half still healthy, but from a local small store where they are treated well. There wouldn't be any sick fishies or injuried fishies to be picked on, that'd be cruel. But maybe the ladies that aren't the absolute prettiest and therefore have been waiting a bit longer for a home.
I would still be careful.

My experience is lacking, but I feel like I should let you know that my past Petco graduates were very nervous when they first entered their tanks. It seems like they've been accustomed to life in a cup. So when they see all those space, they feel overwhelmed. My current girl, bred and raised locally, ruled her new 5.5 gal like a boss since day one. I do know that each fish is an individual and there's no guarantee of their personality, and sororities are barely predictable anyway, but I just thought that it's important to highlight that nervousness factor.

Good luck x
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I would still be careful.

My experience is lacking, but I feel like I should let you know that my past Petco graduates were very nervous when they first entered their tanks. It seems like they've been accustomed to life in a cup. So when they see all those space, they feel overwhelmed. My current girl, bred and raised locally, ruled her new 5.5 gal like a boss since day one. I do know that each fish is an individual and there's no guarantee of their personality, and sororities are barely predictable anyway, but I just thought that it's important to highlight that nervousness factor.

Good luck x

I wouldn't have thought of that. My make Rizo was living life in a bowl until I got a 5 gal for him and he loved it. Then when I went in holidays he stayed in my dad's 35 gal that had just plecos in it and he loved it!

I had no idea that some would be affraid of the space, because Rizo loved it!! Thanks for pointing that out :)
 

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I don't see that it's been mentioned (unless I missed something) but if you bought a bunch of sisters from a local breeder, you wouldn't have as much trouble with aggression because they grew up together, and with pet store girls you would have to get them used to each other before putting them together. I'm all for rescuing Bettas from the store, but it might be safer/easier on you to buy from a Breeder. You do what you feel would work for you, if you want to rescue, go ahead and go for it! If you opt for a breeder, that's great too, either way you'll end up with a beautiful sorority.
 

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I personally would not keep a sonority (though I had admittedly looked into it and wanted to for a while). They're so delicate (aka volatile) and can fall apart quickly. I'd rather keep bettas in separate small tanks and keep them warm and clean (live plants and water changes).
While some of my bettas are in 2-3g tanks and in part of the house that they don't get a lot of attention during the day compared to those on my desk, I know they've gotten a better life than dieing in the lfs cup or going into a unheated less than 1g 'tank' t die from lack of care by an uneducated child/teen/adult.
 
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