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Selling bettas in small plastic cups?.


Erica Stolte

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I've seen a couple of people on my FB say that it's cruel for a store to house bettas in small plastic cups.

My response to that has been how else is it practical for a store to house dozens of highly territorial fish for sale?. This is acceptable temp. housing while the fish are being sold.

Explained an alternative of housing each male betta with other fish for sale.

These setups tend to involve many bettas being put with unsuitable tank-mates, sometimes as I've mentioned here it involves putting two male bettas together.

Gave an example of a male betta found in a gourami tank fighting. After witnessing this,I tend to favor the bettas being in little cups. As many of you may know already, bettas cannot be housed in random community tanks.

One of their reasons that bettas cannot be housed in little cups is that they sit in those small cups without water changes.

My response in that case is if a store doesn't take care of their bettas, they shouldn't be sold there at all.

I mentioned a typical well known retailer that is well known for problems that some of us feel shouldn't sell live animals anymore. I know this site doesn't like store names mentioned so I won't name them here.

Thoughts?..

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I don't remember how frequently the pet stores change the betta bowls, but at least the more responsible ones do complete water changes at certain intervals. It may be every couple of days to every week.

Whatever the case, I remind everyone here that as we discuss things in this thread, the topic of animal cruelty and abuse is beyond the chosen scope of coverage of this forum. Thank you.

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Guest sharpchick

I guess it mostly depends on the size of the retailer.

My LFS (owned and operated by hobbyists) doesn't sell dozens of bettas. They probably don't have more than a dozen bettas in the store at any given time. They are all DDG fish, and each of them gets to cruise around a 30 gallon planted tank (with appropriate tankmates, and some with no tankmates at all) until someone comes along and decides they want to have that particular fish.

That's only one of the reasons I patronize that store first, and always will.

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Whatever the case, I remind everyone here that as we discuss things in this thread, the topic of animal cruelty and abuse is beyond the chosen scope of coverage of this forum. Thank you.

Because of this response, I was going to take my topic down if it upsets anyone, but it seems I cannot.

Edited by Au-fish
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actually, some care needs to be taken when observing the actual display.. for instance, i scolded my supplier for keeping the bettas in very small cups.. and he was very quick to correct me. the stand that he has his wall of bettas on, has a water flow pipe that goes through the back of the cup and the bottom.. it refreshes water every second via continuous flow. it's genius. when i am there next, hopefully tomorrow, i will take a video.. when you remove a cup, the flow falls onto the floor, reducing the pressure to the entire system so that in case of an emergency cup removal, not much water is wasted.

i do know that not all lfs/lps have this facility, but do check before you judge.

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I think it depends on the store! One fish store here has bettas in cups that obviously thrive. They are lively and colorful and happy. Last time I went to my chain store, I only counted two out of 16 cupped bettas that I could even tell for sure were alive. It was essentially a giant display of dead fish right by the checkout.

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actually, some care needs to be taken when observing the actual display.. for instance, i scolded my supplier for keeping the bettas in very small cups.. and he was very quick to correct me. the stand that he has his wall of bettas on, has a water flow pipe that goes through the back of the cup and the bottom.. it refreshes water every second via continuous flow. it's genius. when i am there next, hopefully tomorrow, i will take a video.. when you remove a cup, the flow falls onto the floor, reducing the pressure to the entire system so that in case of an emergency cup removal, not much water is wasted.

i do know that not all lfs/lps have this facility, but do check before you judge.

That's brilliant! The store my friend works at does water changes through out the day on every cup. :)

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My LPS keeps them in 1g bowls and right near to the register. They always have clean water and a piece of lucky bamboo sticking out.

The "fish guy" who works there is very proud of "his" bettas and takes excellent care of them. The bettas there fly off the shelves and considering how happy and active they are, I'm not surprised. I'm the proud owner of one of their bettas and he is the happiest most active fish I've EVER had. :heart

I do get sad when I see bettas at chain stores because they're always packed so tightly onto shelves, there are bettas hidden and you have to dig through to see them. I bought one of mine from a chain store and I wouldn't have found him if I didn't spend 5 mins rearranging the cups so more would be towards the front.

I don't go to local chain stores anymore, mainly because of the bettas. I just don't have the heart for it anymore.

Edited by Chai
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I have been wondering about this for a few days as I debated getting a new male for my new 10 gallon (he just got added to the tank). The chain that I do shop at always has wonderfully healthy bettas and must do a frequent WC to keep them in that state. I was guessing a full WC every day.

IMO, the bettas are like any other fish; if the store takes the time and effort to care for them that is due per their housing, the fish will be fine short term. Most stores simply cannot house every one of their fish in an environment that is perfect for them. The store is merely a transit point, a bus station if you will, that tries to keep the fish in tolerable conditions until they find a home. Good stores put in the effort to do it well and bad stores don't.

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I don't disagree with housing in cups, because it is meant to be temporary. What I don't agree with is the lack of maintenance they perform on them, and the fact that they are in air conditioned stores. Maintenance should be at least be twice weekly, though, and if they can't keep up with that, they simply shouldn't sell them.

The ones sold at the pet shop I usually go to actually has them set up with like a drop filter thing at the top of each one. It's set up on a wall and the temperature is constant, since there is a small, but efficient inflow and outflow of water. It's something so simple that all pet stores could afford and put in place if they wanted. Plus, it looks very pleasing to the eye, which is a huge sale point, and probably decreases water costs, too.

I've always stuck by the opinion that pet stores should not sell any type of live animal, and that includes fish, birds, dogs, cats, etc. Because I think it's wrong that stores cannot advocate good ownership on living animals that essentially have no choice in the matter. The rate of disease spread and shelter abundance is partly due to pet stores keeping and selling pets they just don't know anything about, and importing poor quality animals that have not been vet checked. It's way too easy to buy animals IMO

Edited by Narny105
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To add on to this: I went to my local fish store tonight and when I went in the fish room, I found the employee pouring water out from each betta cup and refilling the cup from one of the tanks they were sitting on :) I asked her about it and she said they change out half the water in each cup at least 3 times a day, always from that same tank. Must be why her bettas are so cheery, social and healthy!

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the best set i have ever seen for beta storage was a 1/2 gal tank set up using 10 tanks :o

they were arranged so 1 sat 1 inch higher than its partner and had a constant water flow running over the top of them.

like a stepping waterfall, sad to say this LFS i saw it in closed down many years ago and I've yet to see the same set up anywhere

else :(

but kudos to them for the idea :)

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I don't disagree with housing in cups, because it is meant to be temporary. What I don't agree with is the lack of maintenance they perform on them, and the fact that they are in air conditioned stores. Maintenance should be at least be twice weekly, though, and if they can't keep up with that, they simply shouldn't sell them.

The ones sold at the pet shop I usually go to actually has them set up with like a drop filter thing at the top of each one. It's set up on a wall and the temperature is constant, since there is a small, but efficient inflow and outflow of water. It's something so simple that all pet stores could afford and put in place if they wanted. Plus, it looks very pleasing to the eye, which is a huge sale point, and probably decreases water costs, too.

I've always stuck by the opinion that pet stores should not sell any type of live animal, and that includes fish, birds, dogs, cats, etc. Because I think it's wrong that stores cannot advocate good ownership on living animals that essentially have no choice in the matter. The rate of disease spread and shelter abundance is partly due to pet stores keeping and selling pets they just don't know anything about, and importing poor quality animals that have not been vet checked. It's way too easy to buy animals IMO

Narny, if you don't already know about it you should look into Oscar's Law. It is mainly about dogs, but it's bringing change and hopefully will be put into place one day very soon. I think this will result in a shake up with the pet industry for the better. The more people who support it the better :)

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I don't disagree with housing in cups, because it is meant to be temporary. What I don't agree with is the lack of maintenance they perform on them, and the fact that they are in air conditioned stores. Maintenance should be at least be twice weekly, though, and if they can't keep up with that, they simply shouldn't sell them.

The ones sold at the pet shop I usually go to actually has them set up with like a drop filter thing at the top of each one. It's set up on a wall and the temperature is constant, since there is a small, but efficient inflow and outflow of water. It's something so simple that all pet stores could afford and put in place if they wanted. Plus, it looks very pleasing to the eye, which is a huge sale point, and probably decreases water costs, too.

I've always stuck by the opinion that pet stores should not sell any type of live animal, and that includes fish, birds, dogs, cats, etc. Because I think it's wrong that stores cannot advocate good ownership on living animals that essentially have no choice in the matter. The rate of disease spread and shelter abundance is partly due to pet stores keeping and selling pets they just don't know anything about, and importing poor quality animals that have not been vet checked. It's way too easy to buy animals IMO

Narny, if you don't already know about it you should look into Oscar's Law. It is mainly about dogs, but it's bringing change and hopefully will be put into place one day very soon. I think this will result in a shake up with the pet industry for the better. The more people who support it the better :)

I support it whole heartedly :) I really hope it comes in soon!

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I know it's not always feesible to keep them in tanks, particulalry depending on what the store stocks, but I always feel bad for the ones in cups. It just doesn't seem like an enjoyable way to live, even if it is temporary. Perhaps I'm being too sympathetic though? :idont

I've always stuck by the opinion that pet stores should not sell any type of live animal, and that includes fish, birds, dogs, cats, etc. Because I think it's wrong that stores cannot advocate good ownership on living animals that essentially have no choice in the matter. The rate of disease spread and shelter abundance is partly due to pet stores keeping and selling pets they just don't know anything about, and importing poor quality animals that have not been vet checked. It's way too easy to buy animals IMO

I agree with you, Alex, but I'm also slightly conflicted. Some pet stores really are good, and place the onus of care both on themselves and their potential customers. I know of one store in particular that spends millions of dollars to ensure the animals they sell are well looked after. There are some caveats, but for the most part they are very good. A lot of animals they sell, they're selling on behalf of reputable breeders--really it's like a show case. That is, 'we'll display these animals for you and take a percentage off the sale'. The owner despises puppy farms. Furthermore, the animals are all checked and provided with medical attention by the vet next door to them. If he's approached by a breeder with a dubious history, he won't take them on.

In my opinion, they probably lose more money looking after the animals than they make back from them; however, I'd say their losses are more than recouped by all the other stuff they sell (i.e. kibble, toys, beds, cages, tanks, etc). I do realise not all stores are like this and understand where you're coming from though.

I too support Oscar's Law; however, I unfortunately don't see it being passed at a Federal level any time soon. State level perhaps, but those governments would see this as trivial in comparison to some of the legislative issues they're currently facing. :(

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Unfortunately I've found no such store in brisbane, but as I said selling on behalf of certified breeders seems like a good way to run a business. Stores in shopping centres selling animals is what makes me cringe. It's just wrong to me, but without getting off topic from betta cups any further, I also don't see it getting passed at the federal level, unfortunately. Time will tell, though! :(

We're seeing anti-meat eating ads on TV now, so you never know what will happen :rofl

Edited by Narny105
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One of my lfs has a rack that the cups/jars sit in and each jar has a small filtered pick up that joins into a sump filter then returns via a drip/trickle feed.

If a jar is removed the water runs into the tray on the rack and is returned to the sump.

Quite nifty really.

Far better than just sitting on a jar of stale stagnant water.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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i finally managed to get a video of my supplier's betta display. now, please note that the rusty colour you see is NOT in the actual containers, but on the metal shelf this display is made from. so the fish are not affected by rust in any way shape or form.

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That's a great set-up! The Petbarn chain stores have recently also come to this method of housing their bettas, and the water is heated in the reservoir supplying the water so it's dripped through at a constant 24C for them- brilliant ways stores are now getting those sorts of set-ups in, and they're cost effective too since you can definitely sell good looking, healthy bettas for more money

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We have our bettas in bowls and do WC twice a week :). And we have 2 separate sumps for lower and higher pH fish. We rarely have sick fish, and when we do, they go into the sick tank :). We don't sell birds, cats, or dogs. Only reptiles, amphibians, hamsters, mice, and fish :). And the occasional tarantula.

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