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How Betta Fish Suffer When Forced to Be ‘Pets’

A PETA video of Thailand’s betta fish industry shows the neglect and cruel treatment of fish who are bred to be sold as “pets” or decorations. Bettas are shown kept in small containers with so little water that their bodies are barely covered.

When You Buy, They Die

Bettas sold in the U.S. usually come from breeding factories in Southeast Asia, and Thailand is one of the top sellers. Dead fish were found at every facility PETA Asia’s investigator (someone who saw all this happen) visited. Many died in breeding tanks, and workers didn’t bother to remove the dead bodies.

At this facility that supplies bettas to Petco, tens of thousands of fish were kept in small, often filthy bottles.

At a Petco supplier, the investigator saw a bucket containing both live and dead bettas. They wouldn’t be sold because they had damaged tails. A worker suggested that they would be dumped into a nearby canal or pond.

Starved and Drugged: How Bettas Get Shipped All Over the World

When betta fish are shipped around the world, they’re often packed without any food—even though the trip can take several days. A worker told the investigator that a drug given to help with stress, known as a tranquilizer, is added to the water so the fish won’t eat their own tails!

Many bettas die before reaching their destination. According to one worker, a company that supplies Petco ships 100,000 bettas per week to the U.S. and up to 1,000 of them die on the way.

While workers sorted the betta fish for shipping, they deliberately left them out of the water, causing them to writhe and gasp for air for a long time.

Before being packed up for shipment, fish were dumped onto a screen and then scooped up in plastic cups. The water in these small containers barely covered their bodies.

Sick, Dying Fish Found at Petco Stores

PETA’s previous investigations of the betta trade have uncovered serious neglect. At Petco stores around the U.S., dead and dying betta fish were found floating in cups of dirty water and some were left to suffer from painful health conditions. Petco employees admitted that the trip to stores is so stressful that the fish often get sick and die shortly after they arrive, saying that they’re more likely to have health problems because of the small cups they’re kept in.

Bettas are vibrant, complex animals with specific needs. To be healthy, each one needs at least 2.5 gallons of clean, filtered, flowing water.

Betta fish arrive at a Petco store. Before reaching stores, they’re shipped by air, which can take several days, without any food.

At Petco stores across the U.S., betta fish are forced to live in small plastic cups containing just a couple of inches of water.

Take Action to Help End Bettas’ Suffering

Selling and buying betta fish is causing serious suffering! Please don’t buy bettas or support pet stores that sell them, and encourage your family and friends to do the same.