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The Problems Associated With Keeping Bettas in Vases

10:18 AM - March 20, 2013 by Adam Short

“Betta in a vase” refers to a glass vase that contains a plant floating at the top, a Betta fish, and marbles at the bottom of the vase or in a tray. Because this setup is unique, it has become very popular. Betta owners who consider themselves trendy or stylish may desire one or more of these eye-catching "Betta in a Vase" ornaments to grace their homes and offices.

Although a "Betta in a vase" may look magnificent on your coffee table or striking in a cluster of three on your dining room table, the truth is that it is both unhealthy and inhumane to the suffering Betta. Many of the people who buy these living knick-knacks are reassured by the sellers that the Betta is comfortable and content residing in the vase. But are they? Let's take a look at life in a vase from the Betta's point of view.

For starters, they need more room. Bettas require space to move around. To be comfortable and remain healthy, the container should be at least four or five Betta body lengths in each direction. A vase limits the range of their movements and could result in fin damage and undue stress.

Bettas need more oxygen than the vase can provide. It is true that this fish can obtain oxygen directly from the atmosphere either from fresh water or through their labyrinth gland. But, for Bettas to use this special respiratory gland they need to have access to the atmosphere. In this unnatural vase habitat, the tray of marbles or the plant on top will block its access to the surface and leave him gasping for oxygen when the supply in the water is diminished. A further risk is that the plant will eventually die and release toxins into the water. These toxins can have an adverse and sometimes fatal effect on the Betta.

Bettas are living, breathing organisms that need food and clean water. Many people are led to believe that a Betta in a vase requires neither. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In its natural habitat, the Betta's diet consists of live insects and insect larvae. As a carnivore, this fish's digestive tract is designed for meat. As with any other Betta kept as pets, the Betta in a vase needs to be fed regularly with food specifically designed for him. Starved and desperate, the Betta will eventually resort to eating the lily roots when nothing else is offered for it to feed on.

This “Betta in a vase” setup is neither natural nor healthy for the fish. If this fish is deprived of its necessary nutrients, it could fall prey to disease. Betta owners should treat the vase similar to a fish tank. They should siphon off the water in the vase so that it does not get contaminated, and replenish with fresh water that contains water conditioners. If this is not done, it could result in the Betta’s death. Do not view the vase in the same light as that of natural waters where scavengers break down wastes and clean the water. Clean the Betta vase at least once a week.

Bettas need proper water temperature, which is one of the many factors that have been completely overlooked by those who invented this fad. They thrive in hot, moist climates and in waters that are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They may survive at lower temperatures but this may result in a lethargic Betta that stops eating. It is almost impossible to regulate the temperature of the water in a vase and although you may enjoy the beauty of a Betta in this situation in your home, it will be short-lived, for it’s impossible for a fish to survive in this unhealthy and unnatural environment.

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