Betta Tank Debates

This is an article that I wrote some time ago in response to an online debate about Bettas and how they are shipped in the pet trade. I posted it here since the original site is now down. The debate was titled, “Tank Wars”


Wow! After reading all the opposing views of Betta Bowls I felt compelled to write my own experience with these fish. My own blue female passed last week. I had her for two years she was a Walmart rescue. The fish recovered quickly and within two weeks killed a wild caught pond minnow. She didn’t kill him out right, just worried him to death.

This female lived happily in her tank with only snails as tank mates. She set up her territory inside an octopus ornament which had chain sword planted around it. When food sank to the bottom she came out to investigate. She always seemed aware of her surroundings. Betta  Splendas can move their eyes  independently of moving their bodies which makes these fish seem human and intelligent(for fish anyway – a step up from platys and guppies). I fed her Tetra Min pellets or flakes, occasionally I crushed the tiny snails for her. She colored up beautifully. Like a blue jewel on a background of green.

At times I moved her to ornamental bowls for varying periods of time. I always put a piece of Hornwort plant in the bowl, to provide a little protection for her and color to the bowl.

I don’t like to keep bettas in bowls during the winter even in coastal Georgia without supplying some means of heat. Also, I don’t think that the practice of putting a male betta in a bowl and putting the peace lily plant on top of the bowl and never feeding him is a healthy for the fish (looks great for a while but the fish is a carnivore and tends to like a little meat in their diet.

I have kept fish since I was five and even managed a pet store for 6 years when I was attending UGA (1980’s). I usually keep at least one betta at all times. They are just so pretty. All of my bettas have had slightly different personalities. Some have lived in community tanks others were just too aggressive. Don’t put them with long finned fish like fancy guppies – they will snack on guppy tails. Conversely, don’t put bettas with tiger barbs – betta tails will be the snack. Fish are like children, as they mature their personality changes.

All this being said, breeders and shippers have thousands of fish to house and clean. You would not be able to buy these fish at $3- $6 each if each fish was allowed his own 2 gallon heated bowl. Shipping costs are expensive.  Fish are flown into airports around the country and the dealer has to be there to pick them up and transfer them into the tanks  ASAP. Several  times I lost and entire shipment because of summer heat with guppies or cold weather with the neons. My shop was part of a chain so my fish went to a central warehouse in Atlanta where they were stablilized and then shipped out again. Fish for my store were bagged early in the morning or the night before and did not get unpacked by me until 7 or 8 pm that night. My store  in Athens, Georgia was last on the route so the fish might be in bags for 12 hours or more before reaching me.

Siamese fighting fish are shipped exactly like you see in the pictures in tiny bags, a lot can be put in a box and flown to the US. I don’t know what the cost is per box is anymore, but it is not cheap. Thankfully bettas are not an endangered species and can withstand individual loses in the population.

Any reputable pet shop tries hard to house their fish humanly and attractively until sold. They have to house more fish in their tanks than what you can keep in your home aquaria. Use the “one inch of fish per gallon” rule as a guideline then tweak according to your species of fish and their specific requirements. I personally try to under-stock the tank rather than push the limit because I know I can’t change 100 gallons of water in all my tanks every week, I don’t have the time.

I hope this helps someone in the “Tank Size War”


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