Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Short Straw: Goldfish and Bettas

When you walk into a pet store, what is usually the worst fish tank? The feeder goldfish tank. Often times you will find two or more dead fish on the bottom being picked apart by the others and another 5 or more sickly animals clamping their fins and hovering above death. Usually the betta cups aren’t much better. Because of the ease of access, the dead fish are often promptly removed, but you find fish with varying illness from bacterial to fungal infection in different states of health. Some can be saved. Sadly some cannot.

Of all the fish available today, betta fish and goldfish have the worst lot in the hobby. Many of these fish will be bought and taken to improper homes. Often times this is not knowledgeable neglect on the part of the owner. Many pet store employees simply don’t know how to care for these animals and keep regurgitating age-old myths and pushing produces “designed” for these fish. Just because there is a goldfish or betta on the box doesn't mean it's suitable for one. Some of these owners undoubtedly seek help for their pet when they see the fish looking “sad” in his or her tiny allotment of water. There is a good deal of proper information about these animals out there for those willing to seek it.  

Here is a good assortment of websites with ample information on the care of betta fish and/or goldfish: (this is just a forum)

TFK profile on betta fish (also has an active forum)

Many of these sites also have a forum where you can register and ask any questions that aren’t answered by the articles available there. The users in these forums are very understanding with people who start their fish in poor homes. After all, a great number of them started with those same tanks due to poor information from a pet store. 

Many people start their fishkeeping hobby with a goldfish in a 10 gallon tank or 1 gallon bowl. This fish usually dies shortly after it is bought, and the owner seeks out answers online. Sometimes, the owner will get so frustrated that they give up the hobby right there. This is sad to see happen. Due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the pet store employees, someone has completely written off a wonderful and family-friendly hobby.

White female B. splendens (public domain)
I believe we fishkeepers can change this. Through the spread of proper information we can eliminated the easy pet myth about bettas and goldfish. I know I am fighting an uphill battle, but I plan to keep fighting it because I strongly believe in the welfare of animals. I know that if people saw just how beautiful a betta or goldfish can be when allowed to grow and blossom in ideal conditions, they would cast aside the old axioms and join me in the spread of knowledge.

1 comment:

  1. Well said! It isn't right that thousands of goldfish should die each year from a lack of knowledge on the pet owner's part.

    If you're off to buy your first puppy, it's likely that you at least already researched the breeds (to make sure you get the perfect dog for your household) or purchased a dog owner's manual beforehand. When buying goldfish, on the other hand, most people overlook this first crucial step. Because goldfish are so small and presumably easy to care for, most people just pick one up without giving it careful thought (or they'll win one from the fair or receive one as a gift).

    It's only when the poor goldfish dies before its time that any real decision to learn more about them is made (assuming that you don't just give up on the hobby).

    To top that off, there's a ton of false information circulating the Internet about goldfish and bettas that it can be difficult for new fish owners to cut away all the fat from the meat.

    I agree with you that fish owners should be educated more on what proper fish care really entails. It's just sad to see so many poor unfortunates locked away into bowls, with very little room to move around and surface area to oxygenate the water (assuming that a filter will even fit in such a tight squeeze).

    By the way, the Pet Goldfish forums ( is also a very useful goldfish resource. I've found the community very helpful and supportive since my short time there. And it's definitely active, though it may not be as active as The GAB.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.