WHY BETTAS SHOULD NOT BE KEPT IN A VASE
The latest fad of keeping a betta fish
in a vase with a peace lily can very dangerous for the fish! Read this article to find out why.
By Ramona Morgan
The argument made for keeping fish in a vase is that pumps, filters, and other aquarium equipment, do not exist in nature. By putting the fish in what appears to be a natural environment the assumption is made that it is inherently as healthy as, if not healthier than, an aquarium. That simply isn't the case. It is true that in nature the Betta lives in shallow rice paddies and swamps. However those waters represent a complete ecological system, which cannot be replicated in a small vase. Rice paddies are shallow but are still part of a much larger body of water that serves to dilute toxins. Scavengers and bacteria present in native waters break down wastes and render them harmless to fish.
In nature the Betta lives on a diet that consists predominantly of insects and insect larvae. In fact, Bettas contribute significantly in controlling mosquitoes that abound in their native habitat. The Betta's digestive tract is geared for meat. Its upturned mouth is designed to grab insects that have fallen into the water. Although they may be observed picking for morsels on plants and rocks, they are not bottom feeders by nature. A diet consisting of vegetable matter may keep them alive for a while, but it is not natural or healthy. Over time they will slowly be starved of the proper nutrients, and more easily fall victim to disease.
Another factor that has been completely overlooked in the Lily- Betta combination is the element of water temperature. The primary reason Bettas in small bowls are often listless is because the water temperature is too low. Bettas are native to countries such as Thailand where the climate is hot and moist. The ideal water temperature for the Betta is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although they can survive at lower temperatures, they become lethargic and may even refuse to eat. Unless you live in a very warm climate, the water in a vase cannot be maintained in the upper 70's to lower 80's. Subjecting the Betta to cool temperatures is the same as if you or I had to live in a house where the temperature that didn't rise above 60 degrees.
Lastly, there is the issue of how the betta breathes. Like other fish, the Betta derives oxygen from the water. However, it also has special organ that allows it to breathe air directly. Its upturned mouth allows it to easily gulp air from the surface, and therefore survive in waters that are low in oxygen. If the Lily vase is not properly set up, there will be insufficient open space at the top of the water for the Betta to reach the air. As the oxygen dissolved in the water is used up, the Betta will need to breathe air more often. Should it have trouble reaching the surface, it may become deprived of the oxygen it needs to survive.
The Peace Lily-Betta combination is clearly a popular fad, but it is neither natural nor healthy for the fish. A dog or cat owner would never consider shutting their pet in a small closet with minimal heat, food, and air. The Betta should not be treated any less humanely.
From Ramona Morgan of FishKeepersClub.