Betta Cruelty
by Ran


Please help stop cruelty to Bettas!

'Betta Vases'. A lovely glass vase, housing a darling little Betta and a Peace Lily. Nice, right?


These are the Betta version of sticking a Goldfish in a little, litre-or-two-volume bowl. For one, Goldfish are very intelligent, contrary to popular belief. Common/Comet Goldfish can grow up to 20-25 centimetres, and live for over twenty years.

Unfortunately, Bettas (or Siamese Fighting Fish, which is what I refer to them as) have been a victim of their own tragic popularity. Know when you go into a pet shop or Wal-Mart and see gorgeous Bettas -- from common veil-tails to spunky crown-tails -- stuffed in tiny bowls that are only filled with an inch or so of cloudy, brown-yellow water?

What you're looking at are Betta caskets. The 'homes' that shopkeepers generally sell to you to house your Betta are no different.

Bettas naturally hail from Thailand rivers and rice patties which, I'm afraid to say, are much more than your typical 'they live in muddy puddles' ignorant shopkeeper response. They usually don't grow beyond 6-8 centimetres, and can live for anything along the lines of three to five years. Not like these Vase bettas, who usually die within the first month or two of purchase.

Does that really seem right?

People often compare this torture to keeping a cat or dog in a closet. Not only is the poor fish in far too small living quarters, they will suffocate and starve. Why suffocate? Bettas are part of an interesting group of fish known as 'Labyrinth' fish, which means that not only do they absorb oxygen from water passing through their gills, they need to breathe from the surface as well. If you put a Betta in a vase, sure, he might survive for a few months longer if you look after him. But stuff a Peace Lily into the top half of the vase, and he can't breathe. He will slowly suffocate....if he doesn't starve first.

Shopkeepers will tell you that you don't need to feed the Betta at all; they tell you that he'll eat his fill of the Lily's roots whenever he's in the mood for some munchies.

Bettas are carnivores. They don't eat plant roots. Bettas in an aquarium spend the majority of their time in the top third of the tank -- not only because of their need to breathe, but because of their feeding style. They have upward-facing mouths (they look like the fish version of a Bulldog, really) and have adapted for picking particles of food off the surface of the water; anything from insects and insect larva/eggs, or even mouthfuls of dead fish. It is a little-known fact that these little fish actually possess teeth, and can occasionally deliver quite a bite.

What makes the Betta so different from other fish? Tell me, why should the Betta live in a 'Betta casket' instead of an aquarium, where he can be happy, healthy, and live a potential full lifetime? (Assuming you take care of him, of course. It's not that difficult, people)

Each Betta has his own personality. They can be shy and mellow, or cheeky and like to zoom across the tank, or cocky and grouchy. They quickly recognize their owners, often begging for food whenever they -- the owners -- walk into the room, or switch a light on. Some will allow their owners to pet them, and will even 'sit' on their hands.

These outstanding little fish deserve far more respect and love that they actually receive. Fish-HAVERS are people who buy fish simply as an accessory, or accept the shopkeepers word on everything and won't even do a little constructive research to care for their new fish. IS IT SO HARD TO SPEND TEN MINUTES LOOKING UP THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE FISH YOU'RE AFTER? No, it isn't. Fish-KEEPERS honestly and sincerely just want to show others the true colours of an animal that we take for granted so much, and treat so unfairly. Fish-KEEPERS enjoy any fish, and often strive (and spend copious amounts of money) to add plants and decor that match a certain fishes habitat to the best of their ability, simply for the comfort of the fish. Even fish-keepers who want to achieve a preferred look with their tank would NEVER set up a tank if the comforts and needs of their fish could not be met.

Are you a fish-HAVER or a fish-KEEPER? If you own a fish in inappropriate settings (a Betta in a vase or tiny 'casket' ) but want to make a difference for your fish, PLEASE sign the petition! We can all make a difference! I will provide useful website links at the bottom of this post if you want to learn more about your fish -- or drop me a line, and I'll try my best to provide you with the information you request.

Whoever took the time out of their day to read this, I cannot thank you enough -- whether you decided to sign the petition or not. Even if just one person reads this, they might think twice the next time they're in a pet shop, whether to look for fish or not. Saving even one Betta from the inevitable doom that THOUSANDS suffer a year is worth it.

The more the word gets spread, the more Bettas will be saved.

© - October 2008