Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Betta Fish

Think you have it bad in self-isolation? Imagine how much worse betta fish have it at pet stores. In nature, their homes of streams and marshes stretch on for miles, with enrichment like live plants and other fish. But in captivity, they’re often kept alone in tiny cups of water, even though science tells us that fish are intelligent animals who suffer from boredom and depression in the same way humans do. Many die alone in these plastic cups.


  • Betta fish are good “starter pets.”
  • Betta fish have to live alone.
  • Betta fish can live in a vase with only a plant for sustenance.

Betta fish are extremely complex animals, but at Petco and other stores, they’re confined to cramped plastic cups with just a few inches of water. They’re often seen dead and floating in dirty water on the shelves.

fish cup betta dying

PETA’s investigations of the pet industry have uncovered appalling neglect of betta fish even before they reach stores. They’re often starved for several days during transport and confined individually to small bags that are stuffed into boxes stacked up high in massive wholesale warehouses. Many die before and during transport to retailers—which can take days, as they’re shipped all over the country. Industry insiders have confirmed that this system is common practice for some retailers.

Here’s how to take action:

  • Use the image below as your cover photo for Facebook or Twitter to spread the message to anyone viewing your profile.

  • Use the live chat option on Petco’s website to speak with a representative. Politely urge the company to stop selling live animals, including betta fish.
  • Leave a comment on Petco’s social media pages, spreading the word that betta fish are suffering.
  • Never shop anywhere that sells live animals. Check out 13 stores that sell companion-animal supplies but not live animals.
  • Call the company’s headquarters at 1-877-738-6742 and voice your concerns about the suffering betta fish at the chain. Please let us know how your call to Peto went below. By submitting this form to PETA, you are not taking action or contacting the company. This is a feedback form to help us improve the call-in experience.

All fields in bold are mandatory.

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