Stop the Cruel Confinement of Betta Fish in United States Pet Shops

Target: Petco and PetSmart shops in the United States

Goal: Stop the cruel practice of selling Betta fish in tiny containers

Animal cruelty often evokes strong emotion, even when the crime is not witnessed firsthand. Dogs that are abused at the hands of their owners incite cries from across the nation, and cats that are abandoned and left to die provoke animal rights activists to a fury. However, when fish or other small creatures are abused in the same way, few seem to notice. Anyone who has ever walked into a local Petco and seen beautifully colored Betta fish in a tiny cup of water has witnessed animal cruelty first hand and likely not realized how problematic the picture truly is. Most do not realize that is cruelty.

Because Betta fish care is constantly debated on internet sites and in pet stores, many are confused about the proper method of care for these animals. Pet stores will claim that the small fish are perfectly happy in a small bowl with a few rocks and an occasional colored plant, as long as the animal is fed on a regular basis. The truth is that these exotic creatures, also called Siamese fighting fish, are native to eastern countries such as Thailand and Cambodia where they dwell in warm waters near the coast and hop between paddies to find food. Because they are often found in such small pools of water, many fish enthusiasts attempt to convince potential buyers that the fish can be maintained in such confined places. In addition, these animals are sold in tiny plastic cups that are frequently filthy and rarely cleaned. While fish do not cry or complain like many mammals when they are ill-treated, the Bettas’ plight of suffering is no less cruel because the animal is small and seemingly unaffected.

This cruelty must be stopped. Bettas are sold in this manner because it is beneficial for the company business at the expense of these beautiful fish. They are not intended to spend so much time in such a small confined place, and to even transport these animals in such a container is reason enough for complaint. Certainly it would not benefit the pet store business to change their present inhumane methods, but to continue this practice while Bettas are suffering is a disgrace. It is no surprise that most pet store shelves house dead Bettas due to the heinous environment that the poor fish must suffer. Potential Betta buyers frequently filter through the cups to find not only a colorful Betta in decent condition, but one that is alive.

To keep these animals shelved in pet stores and displayed for weeks is a terrible practice that should be ended immediately. Tell Petco and PetSmart stores in the United States that this practice is cruel and that it must be ended permanently.


Dear Petco and Petsmart,

It is an abominable practice to keep Betta fish confined in small containers. While you frequently defend the practice with the excuse that Bettas can live in small environments, the plastic cups you house them in for weeks on end is no home for any type of fish. This is animal cruelty, and though fish cannot speak or otherwise relay their distress, the fact that many are in terrible condition, if not dead, by the time they are sold is telling.

Please end this practice despite its monetary benefit to your business. It is not worth the money to put many millions of Betta fish in such terrible living conditions every year for the sake of commerce. It is wrong to confine them in this way, and the cruel methods you use are public knowledge. To alter your means of fish storage would not only be the right thing to do, but it would show your customers that you truly care about the welfare of your animals and therefore are a business that people can trust. Please strive to become a business that people can trust.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Google Images

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  1. A slow, agonizing death, and if they make it into someone’s home the chances are slim that they will be cared for properly or will survive.

  2. Signed the petition. It breaks my heart to see them like that in the store now that I know how they are suppose to be cared for. My betta loves his 5 gallon, filtere and heated tank; and I knew it as soon as I put him in it.

  3. I once complained that it as creul for betta to live in small containers and the next time I went to the pet shop I found bettas living with goldfish in 65 dagress farenhite,strong filtration, and no almost no space to go to the surface. Even crueler then the one before.

  4. I ment and almost no space for going to the surface, sorry for the mistake.

  5. I happen to know that my local petsmart changes the bettas water once a week, every friday, but it is sill pretty cruel how they are confined in those small containers.

  6. My local petshop has them in even smaller plastic containers:( I bought 7 so far some where from petland where they had tail rot and other fish diseases ..

  7. Today while visiting PetCo I was shopping for a new tank for my goldfish. There were more than 20 beta fish in small containers and only half were alive there was one white male beta that was still alive and swimming I brought him home and he now lives in a 2 gallon tank with plants and plenty of room for him to surface and move about. It has been bothering me all night that I saw so many unhealthy or dead fish. I now have two beta fish tanks and a goldfish tank but I know i rescued at least one from the sad life he was living. Hamachi (my new white pretty boy) Clark his older brother and Wanda the goldfish are happy that you have made this website to raise awareness of this cruel practice.

  8. tiffany parker says:

    thank you so much for this. I plan to open a pet store someday and thanks to this artical i will never subject my betas to such confinment. thank you for not letting me unknowingly abuse the beautiful fish.

  9. Jody fuller says:

    I have just rescued 4 betta fish and have given them a much better home i will continue to rescue the beautiful fish i currently have 3 mail veiltails and 1 female crown tail i am angered by the cruelty of any animal or fish they make wonderful companions and should nvever have to suffer i encourage everyone to RESCUE save lives and brighten yours by doing so

  10. I agree that all fish should not be treated like this. I know a pet store in my neighborhood that treats fish like they are supposed to do. They have them in decent 5-7 gallon tanks for fish.

  11. Jennifer- Could you mesh this with a petition on They have a lot of traction.

  12. Here’s the reply I got when expressing my concerns to Petco:

    Dear ,
    Thank you for the feedback on the Betta Fish in one of our stores. Please let me address some of your concerns.

    First, the Bettas are displayed in cups designed specifically for these fish. They enjoy small spaces and must live in relative isolation due to aggressive nature towards other fish, especially other male Bettas.

    The cups are covered to avoid spillage and pollutants from entering the water- however all have ventilation ports in the lids. Air and food can pass thru. Our containers are actually larger than what most pet stores use and were specifically designed to provide the Betta with a safe, clean temporary home. They should not be kept in a large tank with other fish. Water is changed several times a week with prepped water and they are fed betta food daily.

    When purchased we do inform customers a larger tank- although not much larger, is needed for long term care. These are temporary homes and the Bettas sell usually within a week at the store. That said, people do keep Bettas in very small containers – often with a single small plant for décor. They take air off the surface so they do not need an air pump. These fish will also typically sit motionless either near the surface or on the bottom when not active.

    While these fish are captive bred, in nature they exist in small shallow still pools, often the size of a small puddle. In larger bodies of water they will stake out a small areas as their own.

    The Stores have procedures that guide the employees on how to care for, feed and maintain the fish, as well as educate potential owners of these facts if they don’t already know. Our training and care sheets are established by an Animal Care advisory panel that includes specialists on certain animals and fish, veterinarians, and our own chief Veterinarian. These policies and procedures are intended to establish a routine in every store that helps insure consistent care across many stores and regions.

    I hope this addresses some of your concerns. Please let us know if you have further concerns.

    Clarissa S
    Petco Corporate Supervisor

    Healthier Pets. Happier People. Better World.

  13. Stop buying the bettas and calling it “rescue.” If we really want it to stop we wont do this! IT JUST GIVES THE STORE A REASON TO RESOTCK MORE TORTURED BETTAS! Please consider this. Love cannot exist without discernment. That means, when walking by that isle, we must put aside our temporary emotions for the sake of a much larger goal, STOPPING THE REVENUE GENERATED BY SELLING THE BETTAS! Hit em where it hurts, their wallet. If a product does not sell, that company no longer has a reason to offer that product. Instead, we need to spend our time and money on public awareness like the creater of this site. I signed the petition…

  14. Forget how they are displayed. Look into how they are transported to the store in the first place. I have seen them as they come in from California, in a box packed with display cups and lids. They are all packed tightly together into bags within bags with about 2 inches of water to keep them alive. It is cruel and disturbing.

  15. Chelsea Mcmahan says:

    Is there any way to get involved?

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