If you’ve ever walked into a pet or fish store the odds are pretty good you’ve seen an entire section of betta fish in tiny little cups of water.
There are a couple of different reasons why betta fish are sold in cups, but the biggest reason is because they are so easy to sell that way.
The tiny little cups are easy for customers to pick up, are easy for customers to bring up to the register, and are really easy to transport these fish, too.
Best of all, because betta fish thrive in shallow water these beautiful fish don’t really need a whole lot of water – so those tiny little cups aren’t putting their health or wellness in jeopardy (at least not in the short term, anyway).
Why Are Betta Fish Sold in Cups?
Keeping betta fish in tiny little cups makes it easy to display all of the individual fish without having to dedicate gigantic tanks to a breed of fish that can be pretty aggressive (especially when the males are stuck together).
On top of that, these tiny little cups make it easy for customers to pick out the exact fish that they want to bring home. You don’t have to get a skimmer net, you don’t have to try and corral a fish from a tank.
Skimmer nets can be hazardous with lots of bettas. Their ornate tails can become tangled in the net and injure them.
All you have to do is pick up the cup with the fish you want, bring it over to the register, pay, and you are on your way!
Of course, another reason that pet store and fish store owners like to keep betta fish in individual cups is so that they are separate from one another.
Male betta fish are particularly aggressive around other males – to the point where they will actually fight to the death for no real reason other than they are in the same water.
You don’t have to worry about this so much with female betta fish (or even a single male in with the ladies), but fish store owners that are looking to get as many of these fish permanent homes as possible don’t want to deal with the headache and hassle of fights all the same.
Remember – Store Containers are Temporary Living Conditions
It is very important to remember that while betta fish can survive and even thrive in small cups of water for a couple of weeks (and maybe even a little longer than that, so long as their water is well-kept and taking care of) these are temporary living conditions for sure.
The overwhelming majority of fish stores out there that carry betta fish in these little containers are going to leave these beautiful fish in those temporary conditions until someone buys them or until the fish passes away.
Thankfully, most stores go to great lengths to make sure that the water in these containers is always adequate, has plenty of oxygen for the betta fish, and never becomes cloudy, murky, or unhealthy.
If you do come across a store with betta fish living in cloudy muck it’s a good idea to avoid them at all costs. It might not even be a bad idea to report that store to the authorities, letting them know that they are being cruel to the animals in their charge.
One good thing about these cups, though, is that they make it really easy to change water and really easy to control the temperature as well.
Betta fish do very well in temperatures between 75°F and 81°F. Trying to keep a gigantic aquarium at those temperatures with a small army of betta fish potentially fighting it out to the death inside is a nightmare scenario.
No, it’s much easier (much more humane) for the smaller cups of water to be actively monitored, to be swapped out and changed as necessary, and for these betta fish to be ready at a moments notice to be scooped up, brought home, and transferred to more permanent living quarters.
Getting Your Betta Ready for Moving Day
After buying your betta fish you have (at most) two or three days of time to work with where that fish will be perfectly healthy inside that little cup.
You want to begin the acclamation process just as soon as you get home.
A lot of people forget that betta fish are in fact tropical fish. They need warm water, they need plenty of oxygen, and they like to have a little bit of structure to really thrive.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a new betta owner would be to simply dump your betta fish into a tank of water you’ve just poured from the tap.
Some betta fish are resilient enough to handle the shock, but most of them are going to be significantly damaged with this kind of transfer – if not killed outright (even if it takes a couple of days for their wounds to prove fatal).
Instead, you’ll want to make sure that you get your new tank ready to rock and roll before you get your hands on your new betta or at least within the first 48 hours.
You want to be sure that the temperature of the water is perfectly dialed in (sitting somewhere between 75°F and 81°F), that the pH level and salinity levels are dialed in, and that you are able to make the transition from the tiny little cup to the new living quarters as seamless as possible.
Another reason not to go home and just dump your fish into a tank (especially a tank already filled with fish) is that you want to observe your fish to confirm that it isn’t sickly, isn’t carrying disease, and that you aren’t going to contaminate the already existing aquarium, either.
If you have to stretch this quarantine and acclamation process out beyond 48 hours you’ll want to swap the water at least once. Start preparing water for the swap just as soon as you get your fish on (the smaller amount can be made betta ready within two days) and you should be good to go!