Bettas have been around for a long time. Commonly known as Siamese Fighting Fish these splendid creatures were actually fought for years. Now times have have changed and they have been bred to show off excellent fins and amazing colors. You can find both the males and the females these days and they are often sold with little cups, dishes, or small bowls to keep them in. However, should one really keep them in this little space? Is it right or is it dooming the fish to a miserable existence? Should one keep their betta in a vase or a tank?

The Vase.
Using the term vase is very broad. They make small plastic containers to put your betta in. They come in a wide range of styles with hexagons, double tanks, and more. Each one of these holds a very small amount of water. More modern looking bowls are available, some even with their own lights. Vases have long been popular with a beautiful plant on top and a fish in the bottom. There are even people that keep bettas in a 1 gallon pickle jar!

The Benefits.
Those who are against these small homes feel that it is against the fishes rights and that you are dooming a fish to a miserable life. That aside, there are indeed some benefits to a small container.

  • Small containers fit in small spaces. You can easily keep one of these in your house no matter how small your house is. You can also keep it on your desk or even in your place of work.
  • These containers are pretty easy to care for. No matter how you do water changes, you won't spend much time on them and it will be quick and easy.
  • The price for a set up is under $10 with a nice looking fish to boot. Most fish tanks, even small ones aren't going to be anywhere near that cheap.

The Disadvantages.
While there are a few good reasons to keep a betta in a very small space, there are a number of disadvantages as well.

  • If you understand the nitrogen cycle and how bacteria work to keep a tank clean than you know that it doesn't work so well in such as small space. First the fish goes to the bathroom. While it would be loads easier if he or she didn't do this there isn't an off switch. This waste material has ammonia in it which pollutes the water. In the small space much of this harmful pollutant will stay harmful pollutant because the bacteria population doesn't have what it needs to clean it up. This is really bad for your fish because he is literally living, eating, and even breathing his waste.
  • If you are taking good care of your water you will need to be doing really, really regular water changes. You should be doing changes of water every day to keep it as high of quality as possible.
  • You are shocking your fish by doing complete water changes and it is hard to take care of the bowl or vase without doing these complete water changes.
  • Finally, you can't really vacuum, so even if you are putting your fish in another container and cleaning out their dish (which kills good bacteria) you aren't getting rid of all their waste.

With all these negatives it is easy to ask yourself whether or not a fish can even survive such as set up!

Yes a fish can survive. In fact, they can live a long time like this. Even with all of the things you have going on the betta is a pretty hearty fish who can live for years like this. Many say that it is similar to their native habitat and in some ways this is true, but this isn't the condition of their native habitat all the time.

  • Bettas (wild bettas though the one you bought at the store is most likely quite descended from a wild betta since wild bettas are bland in colors and lack a lot of showy fins) are often found in rice patties. Here the waters rise and make great spawning areas where food is plentiful and space is not at all limited. Then the rice patties drain and the water becomes shallow forcing the fish into a small space.
  • However, the rice patties don't stay that way and soon enough space is much larger again.
  • Water quality in the rice patty is also much better than water quality in your small vase.

So while your fish can indeed survive that way they will do better with a real tank.

A Real Tank.
A real tank doesn't have to be large, fancy, or expensive. You need a filter, an air stone and bubbler, and space for your fish. In many instances a 1.5 gallon or more is plenty big enough, but the bigger the better. These tanks will foster the growth of necessary bacteria, will have higher water quality, and the bigger the tank the easier it is to keep stable at great water quality.

Your Betta Can Thrive As a Community Member.
A lot of people keep their bettas cooped up because they believe that they are too aggressive for a community tank. Most bettas are actually great community members and will love alongside a wide range of fish, invertebrates, and even the African dwarf frog (if the tank is right for them). With that in mind you can see the articles Tips For Choosing a Betta For Your Community Aquarium, Male Betta: Tank Members For a Small Tank, Male Betta: Tank Members for Large Tanks, Female Bettas: Tank Members For Small Tanks, and Female Bettas: Tank Mates for Large Tanks.

While your betta will do okay in a small jar or vase, a small tank or even a large tank are much better options. You have to choose what's right for you, but he or she is likely to live longer, be less work, and open up this great little personality that will have you thrilled he or she is a part of your life.