Why You Shouldn't Buy Betta Fish

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Posted August 19, 2013 by peta2 staff

You wouldn’t transport a kid or a puppy in a cardboard box, right? I mean, you’d have to be crazy to think  that would be OK. That’s why I was shocked when I saw that a Reddit user had posted photos of betta fish who had been transported in tiny plastic bags that had been stuffed into a cardboard box.

Check out the photos that blew my mind!

betta fish in tiny bag

betta fish in box

Betta fish in bag

As horrifying as this looks, it is actually standard practice in the pet-trade industry. Most fish are transported from dealers to pet stores in tiny, cramped bags and containers that don’t look anything like their natural habitats! In fact, the water that they’re transported in often contains a blue-colored tranquilizing agent that’s used to reduce their agitation while they endure bumpy, often days-long journeys from one end of the country to the other.

  • Betta fish can survive in tiny bowls or vases.
  • Bettas MUST be housed by themselves.
  • Being kept in a vase with a plant restricts bettas’ access to oxygen, which they take mainly from the surface of the water.
  • In nature, bettas eat mostly insects and insect larvae. They die slow, painful deaths from starvation if they are given only plant roots for food.
  • Female bettas can be housed together, and male betas can live with other species of fish.

Helping is simple: All you need to do is let fish live in peace in their homes in the wild and never support pet stores that sell them. Already have fish? Check out this guide for caring for fish!

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  • 211 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    This is so sad I got my betta after my girlfriends betta died and he was just ion a little starter kit. After I read this I got him a 20 gallon tank and now he lives with other fish and room to swim and he loves all his friends :) Thank you for this article PETA it saved my fish from a miserable and lonely life :)

  • 354 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    This is terrible! I have a male Betta in a gallon fish bowl- I also have a 38 gallon fish tank already… I can transfer him into the tank and he will be okay with the other fish?

  • Profile photo of Kubeinc

    559 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Petco was my first job. Horrible place. The bags they come in look exactly like this. More than half of them usually dead.

  • 563 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    this is horrible:( poor fish

  • 698 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Betta fish are very clever fish, they are dolphins or little dogs of the sea, once you have one and treat it right, the fish will flourish, he will greet you in the morning with a happy dance (asking for food), he will make beautiful bubble nests and more… I cannot believe how badly those fish are being treated, almost any store I’ve been too, they are kept in tiny cups, in cold water, half are sick or dead, and the staff at the store are usually uneducated about betta. I hate that these fish are being treated like decorations and not a living thing, I hate Meijer’s stores for allowing to sell them too, why is it not enough stores already like petco and petsmart accross the street, why whoever made that decision to sell live betta fish at Meijer’s by the frozen foods department… absolutely no soul, just corporate profits, but i can’t even see what profits are they making, because 60% of those betta’s are sick or dead…

  • 734 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    geeeez.. i found an old aqua vase at home and i was thinking to put this kind of fish on it. Good thing I read it before i make a huge mistake. :/

  • Profile photo of frenchriviera

    735 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    This hurts my heart. I so mad whenever I walk into a business or house or whatever and see bettas swimming around in flower vases like their a decoration, not a living being.

  • Profile photo of ispectechular

    783 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    OMG. I just took my betta fish away from my sister because she wasnt feeding him or cleaning his tank. I feel so bad these fish go through all this.

    • Profile photo of Whitney-C

      782 days ago

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


      Thanks for helping this fish! Be sure to e-mail us at if you need any help at all with taking care of her.

  • Profile photo of piggys052900

    818 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    This is terrible!!

  • Profile photo of sarahfritts

    828 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    There was about 30 betta’s at our local walmart, and half of them were dead in their little cup…sick

  • Profile photo of TheVeganDancer

    828 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    That is terrible! These fish should not have to die like this! This should be illegal. I only had a fish once, and I treated him very well. I bought him cool new rocks and little statues for his tank, but he died on easter morning to my thirsty cat :( I was five. I cried so hard. RIP, Betty.(Real creative name, it was a betta, but we got him from a better pet store than those in the pictures)

  • Profile photo of googlegyrl2005

    829 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    i was at a stag and doe a few months ago and if u didn’t pay a 2$ “insurance” than ur name was put into a draw and the two names picked had to swallow a goldfish and the water live. i payed 100$ (50$ per fish) and took them home and named them fred and george. sadly from the stress of the small cups they were in before i took them and being moved around so much fred died a week later and george died a few days after him :(

  • 829 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Alright, the myth about them not being able to live in small vases or bowls is actually truth. And the other myth is half right. Some males can be put in with other fish, some cannot. And the truth about the vase with a plant is not true.

    • 89 days ago

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]


      Kaitlin Jackson, you are incorrect. While the marshy rice paddies these fish are native to are shallow, they tend to stretch for miles. These fish are CAPABLE of surviving in small puddles when conditions change, but that is a very un-ideal environment. And you are also incorrect about the plants. Bettas can eat some plant matter, but they are primarily carnivores.

  • Profile photo of alexblue

    829 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    That’s just sick and sad.
    I agree…let fish live in peace. If watching fish swim around spins your spurs, watch a video.

  • Profile photo of rewaloomba

    832 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]



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