So yesterday, I went out and interviewed a local PetCo worker about the bettas he had. I played dumb and pretended I didn’t know Jack Squat about bettas, and asked all the usual newbie questions. Below are the results of the questions I asked.
The guy I wrangled ended up being the manager, so…
Actually, most of that advice is bullshit. Half truths, mostly. It’s not the WORST I’ve heard but it’s still bad. I’m on my phone so I can’t break it down at the moment but I will later.
Ok, so, on the computer now.
Let me preface by saying I love the idea of this blog! Seriously.
But I’m gonna break down what he said and why none of it means the fish are in good hands. (also I realize you probably realize all of this, I just wanted to let my followers know!)
“there’s basically two options. You could keep them in a small bowl, um, with that you’re going to need to change water pretty much every week.”
Bowls definitely need to be cleaned out more than once a week, if they are under 2 gallons (which most are) and anything under 2 gallons is not an option anyway. A simple ammonia test at the end of the week proves this.
“Or you could put them in a small aquarium with a filter and you would only have to do water treatments like once a month”
Also untrue, even with a filter you still do weekly water changes on most tanks, though not 100% water changes.
“So that’s your first thing that you want to think of, do you want to clean it often or do you want to have machines take care of it for you.”
Leading the customer to think that filters clean your water for you.
"Once a week if you don’t have a filter. And it’s really easy, you just take about half the water out and then put fresh water in."
No, as established before a 2 gallon container has to be changed out 100% once a week. Anything less results in ammonia build up, which equals a dead or sick fish.
“And you want to keep that half in there just because there’s natural bacteria that start to form in the water that help make a slime coat around them, which protects their gills from disease. So if the water is their biggest immune system you want to keep that bacteria in there to keep them healthy. But if you take all of it out you kind of have to start from scratch and it puts them into shock for a little while, which makes them really vulnerable.”
This- ok- what? This is like, a total misunderstanding of what nitrifying bacteria are/what they do. The bacteria glues itself to porous surfaces, it doesn’t hang out in the water column. So it’s located in the gravel in an unfiltered tank. This does not provide enough of a bacterial bed to handle most tanks. This is WHY we have filters.
A fishes slime coat is in no way fueled by nitrifying bacteria. It is something they are born with, a mucous layer produced by the fishes body. Nitrifying bacteria convert simple inorganic compounds into complex organic compounds which produces energy. This is how the bacteria survive. (Ammonia>Nitrite>Nitrate) It has literally zero to do with a fishes slime coat.
And, like I said, since the amount of bacteria left in the gravel is not enough to break down any waste reliably the bowl is just going to get dirty and deadly to fish. What he’s talking about happening here is what happens when you take away a functioning bacterial colony from an unestablished tank. (i.e removing the filter pad), it does not occur in something without a filter. Plus he’s suggesting a fish-in cycle, which is deadly by itself even in a big tank.
“they live to about a year and a half to two years but there are cases where they live for more than 20 years.”
This is another wtf moment. “Oh yeah they live 1 year but also sometimes 20 it’s just luck of the draw.” ???
?? ? ? ????????????
Bettas live 2-4 years, with 3 being average. Some have been known to live up to 6, but any claims of them living longer are not verified.
“If you’re going on vacation or something and your tank had a heater or was in a well lit spot, you would just move him to a colder or shadier area, feed them before you go, and then they’ll be good for about a week without needing any food or anything. So super super easy to take care of.”
If you’re going on vacation make your fish lethargic so his digestive system slows down and don’t feed him?!? What?? This is technically true but holy shit do not do this dear god. Also “well lit” does not reliably or safely heat a tank. If lights are used to heat a tank, they heat it to whatever temperature they’re going to (aka no safety shutoff) so they will very easily over or underheat a tank. That and hey, what happens at night when you turn them off? Temperature drop! This can absolutely kill a fish.
“Uh, anywhere between 70-75 degrees is really really ideal”
Try 78-80. I don’t know if this guy has ever heard of Thailand. It is HOT!
"You won’t need one. Typically because they are in a really small area, that grabs onto the room temperature very well, and it kind of keeps itself. Anything like, 5 gallons or smaller, no need for a heater. Anything 10 gallons or more, I would suggest a small heater. "
This has no base in science. A small tank “grabs onto room temperature” well?? A heater is needed based on the external temperature.
“In the wild, they live in rice patties, which are incredibly dirty, shallow water.”
Wrong! They are found in rice paddies occasionally, when they are either put there by people or end up there because of irrigation. Remember: Rice paddies are drained yearly! Bettas do not form living populations in them! They are found in shallow slow moving streams. Also they are not “incredibly dirty” they have no reason to be.
“Some of the books by like, betta experts and stuff like that I’ve read suggest you put a net in the water once a week and chasing them around, just to put that natural instinct to evade into them and to make them look good. “
Wrong again, stress kill fish.
"And if you have one male betta, you can put one female in there in about a 10 gallon space. Or you can put two females in there."
Bettas in pet stores are essentially hyper aggressive versions of wild bettas, if you do this, one will kill the other eventually. Plain and simple.
"Yeah, the females are really little and aren’t usually as pretty."
Females come in every tail type and color that males do. Again, these are not wild splendens they’re commercially bred colorful monsters.
It’s so sad that Petco doesn’t train us better on fish care. It DOES depend on the Petco though. If you come into my store, everyone knows proper fish care. I’ve made sure of it.