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Can I Keep Betta Fish in a Vase? Vet-Reviewed Housing Tips & Advice

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By Lindsey Stanton

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re thinking about getting betta fish and are wondering if they can be kept in a vase, the answer is that they shouldn’t because it wouldn’t be humane or fair to the fish. Betta fish need to be kept in an aquarium with at least 5 gallons of water. The aquarium should also be filtered and heated. As with any pet, it’s best to do ample research before deciding to adopt a betta fish. In this article, we’ll explain why bettas shouldn’t be housed in a vase and what they require in their aquarium.

Why Do We See So Many Betta Fish in Vases?

Hollywood films have perpetuated the myth that betta fish are happy living in a vase. While the altruistic themes of these stories make us want to believe that we are treating our pets humanely, it’s not true.

Some people also argue that keeping a betta fish in a vase is acceptable because aquariums are much more expensive. However, if you consider your pet’s health and safety first, it wouldn’t matter if the aquarium costs $25 or $250. All pets come with a set of expenses. In the case of bettas, this includes the costs associated with their aquarium setup. Furthermore, while an aquarium setup might sound expensive, it’s often more cost efficient in the long run. Bettas housed in proper setups are healthier and less likely to experience illnesses and disease, which usually require expensive medication and may also involve emotional distress for you and your family.

You might even have seen betta fish in some small pet stores that lacked the space to house them properly. Because of this, they were housed in small vases or plastic containers and sold to customers for a very low price.

It is important to note that purchasing a pet from these establishments comes with the risk of disease or having the animal shipped to you in an unsuitable condition. The conditions that these pets are housed in for display purposes in pet stores should not be considered suitable permanent housing for them.

dumbo halfmoon betta
Image Credit to panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

What Are the Minimum Requirements for a Betta Fish?

Here are the minimal requirements that you should look for when setting up a tank:

  • A single male betta should be housed in a 5-gallon aquarium (as a minimum).
  • The aquarium needs a filter and a heater. It is best to keep your tank at a temperature of around 82–83°F (approximately 28°C).
  • A gentle sponge filter is the best for bettas. They don’t appreciate strong currents.
  • The aquarium should be placed in a room that’s slightly cooler than the setting on your aquarium heater. This ensures that the heater keeps the temperature stable for your betta and that they aren’t too warm (the heater won’t do anything if the ambient temperature exceeds its setting).
  • The aquarium needs to be cycled before adding your betta.
  • You should perform a partial water change of at least 20–25% per week.
  • Add decorations and plants that give your bettas some hiding spots. Live plants are preferred over artificial plants. However, if you are not sure how to care for live plants, artificial silk plants are an acceptable alternative. Ornaments and decorations that you add to your aquarium should not have sharp edges or corners.
  • Bettas appreciate plants with large leaves near the surface of the water, floating plants, or a fish hammock to rest on.
  • If you enjoy watching bettas constructing nests, you can purchase nest anchors for your fish. Betta nests are most sturdy at 82.4°F (28°C).
  • The aquarium should be on a sturdy, even stand that can support the weight of the aquarium. Please be mindful that since 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water weighs 8.3 lb. (3.8 kg), even a small aquarium can be extremely heavy relative to its size. The stand should be able to support the full water-filled weight of your aquarium.
  • The aquarium should be well out of the reach of other pets and shouldn’t be placed near a mirror or other reflective surfaces. The aquarium also needs to be kept away from direct sunlight, as this can lead to overheating and algae blooms.
  • The aquarium needs to have some type of cover on top. This will prevent your fish from jumping out of their tank or another pet, like a cat, swiping at your fish.
  • Feed your betta a good-quality slow-sinking pellet made specifically for them. Supplement their diet with treats in the form of live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods that are appropriate for them (such as brine shrimp or tubifex worms).

With the correct setup, taking care of betta fish is not as difficult as some people claim it is. The most important thing to remember is that while the initial investment and setup might seem cumbersome or daunting, it is the most important part of keeping your betta healthy, and the return on investment on a proper setup is well worth the effort. It is also incredibly rewarding to set up the correct home for your betta, and research has determined that a good setup for a fish also provides health benefits for their owner!1

Female bettas should be housed in a sorority of at least five females of relatively the same size and age, added to a 20-gallon aquarium at the same time. They don’t build bubble nests and usually don’t have the long flowing fins that most males possess, but they can be rewarding to keep in their own way. The rest of their requirements are similar to those of male bettas. Males and females should not be housed together on a permanent basis.

heater in a betta tank
Image Credit to Sandra Burm, Shutterstock

Why Do Betta Fish Need So Much Space?

The main reason people overlook the space requirements for betta fish is that they are small animals. They eat often, but it doesn’t take much food to fill them up. However, they still need a lot of room to swim around and the proper amount of water to live their lives.

Betta fish are also active creatures that enjoy swimming around, searching for food, and exploring their surroundings. Since they are instinctively territorial, they’re often curious about their surroundings, which warrants giving them a relatively large amount of water and space to explore.

betta fish in aquarium
Image Credit to Kosit Pajuthai, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Contrary to popular belief, betta fish should not be housed in a vase. It is not an acceptable housing option for them. A single betta fish should be housed in a heated and filtered aquarium that can hold 5 gallons as a minimum. Although this might seem daunting for a first-time fish keeper, this investment is worth it in the long run, as it ensures that your fish lives a longer, healthier life. This, coupled with the fact that interacting with fish in an aquarium may also offer health benefits to you, justifies the use of an appropriate setup for your fish.

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Featured Image Credi to: NPDstock, Shutterstock

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