Bettas are very beautiful and unique-looking fish. They have brightly colored bodies and long, flowing fins. Like all fish, they are happiest when they’re swimming freely in their natural habitat.
Not all bettas are lucky enough to live and swim freely, though. Pet stores like to promote them as easy “starter pets,” selling them to people who don’t know how to take care of them and don’t realize how much the fish have suffered before being put on display.
Below are a few images posted by a Reddit user that show how bettas are transported to stores.
Before being shipped to pet stores, bettas are put into tiny plastic bags with very little water, and these bags are then stuffed into cardboard boxes.
The water that they’re transported in often contains a blue-colored tranquilizing agent that’s used to keep them calm as they suffer through stressful, bumpy, and often days-long journeys from one end of the country to the other.
As heartbreaking as this looks, it is actually a very common practice in the pet trade.
Instead of swimming as far as they want in the wild, bettas sold as “pets” are forced to exist in tiny glass bowls or vases that are way too small and cold for them.
Did You Know?
In the wild, bettas live in Asia, where their homes are the shallow waters of rice paddies, ponds, or slow-moving streams. Since those waters aren’t deep, they stay warm, which is why bettas who live in human homes need at least 10 gallons of water in an aquarium that can be kept heated to at least 75 degrees.
Many people also don’t realize that keeping bettas in a small glass or vase with a plant makes it hard for them to breathe because they get their oxygen from the surface of the water, and a narrow container with a plant can interfere with this. The plant roots that bettas are left with as “food” in these vases don’t provide them with all the nutrients they need, so they eventually become very sick and starve.
Bettas do NOT have to be kept in “solitary confinement,” as some people think. Female bettas can actually live together, and males can live with other species of fish.