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Can I Keep Betta Fish in a Vase? Is It Humane?

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By Lindsey Stanton

betta fish in bowl

If you’re thinking about getting betta fish and wondering if they can be kept in a vase, the answer is they could, but it wouldn’t be humane or fair to the fish. Betta fish need to be kept in an aquarium with at least 2 gallons of water, and it needs to be filtered and heated. If you’re considering getting a betta fish as a pet, make sure to do your research before purchasing one.

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. You might even have seen betta fishes 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 the customer 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.

dumbo halfmoon betta
Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

What Are the Ideal Living Conditions for a Betta Fish?

Here are the basic things you should look for when setting up a tank:

  • You should have at least 2–3 gallons of water per extra fish.
  • The aquarium needs to be cycled before adding any living creatures.
  • Clean the tank weekly.
  • Add decorations and plants that give your bettas some hiding spots.
  • The aquarium needs to be kept away from direct sunlight, as this can lead to overheating, and you should place it in a safe location for children and pets.
  • The aquarium needs to have some type of cover on top to help keep the water temperature stable. This will also prevent your fish from jumping out of its tank or another pet, like a cat stealing it for lunch.

Taking care of betta fish is not as difficult or expensive as some people claim it is. The most important thing to remember is that you should always keep their safety and well-being at the forefront of your mind.

heater in a betta tank
Image Credit: 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 very active creatures that enjoy swimming around, searching for food, and staying near the top of the tank for oxygen.

betta fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Kosit Pajuthai, Shutterstock

Can Betta Fish Get Depressed?

The New York Times reported that not only can fish get depressed, but they also can suffer from the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder. The article states some of the symptoms your pet will exhibit if it has endured a traumatic event.

It may stop eating, hide in dark places, lose its balance, and have trouble breathing. It may also become aggressive toward other fish and attack them. Finally, it will also startle more easily than it used to. It’s important to note that these symptoms of depression are not unique to Betta fish. However, they live in an environment where they don’t have many places to hide or escape from the bad things around them, unlike other animals like dogs and cats.

A small enclosure could very well be the catalyst for a pet fish’s descent into depression. Studies have shown that keeping animals in small environments can cause them to become ill and even die prematurely, regardless of how much food they receive.

closeup sick betta fish
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

aquarium plant divider


If you choose to go the route of housing your fish in a vase, make sure that they have enough room, clean water, and a warm ambient temperature. Most store-bought vases are not very large and are difficult for most fish to swim around inside. This is inhumane because the animal will more than likely be forced to live as if it was being choked or suffocated. It will have a difficult time getting to the food you provide, and it will not have enough room or oxygen to survive for very long.

If you would like to learn more about betta fish, as well as different ways of keeping them healthy, read up on them in our blog section.

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Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

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