Betta Vases


Here are some of my thoughts against betta vases, please feel free to let me know if you have them? Like them? Or even despise them as I do? Bettas get the bum deal in this hobby and are now equally as poorly provided for as goldfish in the homes department.
Bettas are anabantoids, which in layman's terms means they possess a labyrinth organ. This is a clever little organ that works like a lung and permits the fish the ability to breath air at the surface as well as get oxygen from its gills. And if it were that clean and clear they would be ideal fish for any environment. That is right, you guessed it, it's not. They actually have poor quality gills, which are more geared to flare and show off than get oxygen from water. They get around 90 percent of their oxygen need from the surface and the remaining 10 percent from water and their gills. Now this requirement means they need a lot of surface area to breathe, and vases can't provide that, being tapered. If bettas can't get their oxygen requirements from the surface, they can't fall back on their gills, as they just are not good enough, so drowning is the end of it.

Vases contain very little water. Bettas produce ammonia by eating, defecating and breathing and any uneaten food rots down to produce ammonia as well, so managing the water quality in a vase is hard work. A filter is a definite requirement for healthy water conditions and does a couple of separate jobs. Filters for bettas aren't needed to oxygenate the water, so fast flowing water isn't needed or desired. The filter's job is simple. Firstly it pulls all the waste matter and bits of crud out of the water column and traps them in the filter media. This serves the purpose of keeping the water free of little particles, which agitate the bettas slime coat and can cause infections. Its second and more prominent job is to provide a massive amount of surface area for the good nitrifying bacteria (the guys that eat ammonia and nitrite) to live on. One small filter sponge can be home to many millions more single celled nitrifying bacteria that the entire surface area of a vase. This enables a good colony of bacteria to be present there to deal with the ammonia and nitrite, as it is are delivered straight to them thus keeping the water quality good for longer. Large regular water changes are still required, but these are up to 50 percent once per week in a 10 gallon with a filter as opposed to around 50-70 percent every 2 days without.

Now we come to something else missed from vases and equally important to the betta's well being. The heater. Bettas are tropical fish which come from hot climates and large bodies of water that aren't subject to large temperature swings when it gets cooler at night. Vases will easily drop many degrees to match room temp in the cooler evenings. This is very stressful to the betta, as they prefer a constant stable temperature. As we all know stress leads to a reduction in the immune system which allows infectious bacteria, which lives more abundantly in vases than tanks as they have no filters and less water to dilute any impurities, to attack the fish. See how lack of one thing knocks on and makes the second condition worse?

Plants. Now most of these vases are designed around the peace lily. What a mental image this conjures up! Peace around the globe, and at the expense of the health and well being of one of God's creatures. Ironic? Or is it moronic? You tell me? Bettas need soft bushy plants to feel safe and secure. They like to dash between the leaves of a plant to escape a predator. Filling the vase with lily roots isn't the same as the foliage of a bushy plant. Even if it was a good bushy plant, it only goes to reduce the surface area the betta so desperately requires to breathe.

So betta vases are death traps, plain and simple. They have only one redeeming feature - they look good with plants in. However, they should be outlawed for keeping a betta in.

The sad fact is at present bettas are little more that window dressing or ornaments. They are not considered living breathing creatures. People see them in 4oz cups in the supermarket and think their vase, that looks so wonderful on the mantelpiece would be the ideal home for the little guy. Sad fact is, it is out of the frying pan and into the fire. If anything in this post doesn't convince people to keep their betta in a nice square 5-gallon or even better a 10-gallon with filter, heater and plants then nothing will. But if you can convince even 1 person to throw the vase away and get the fish what it needs then your attempts wont be in vain and Aquatic-Hobbyist will support you in that.

Good luck!

Other Ethical Fishkeeping Information