New PETA Exposé Includes Damning Findings from Ohio Petco Stores

Dead and Ailing Betta Fish Found During Visits to 27 Ohio Stores, Retailer Urged to End Sales

For Immediate Release:
May 21, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Cleveland – As part of its nationwide campaign urging Petco to end its notoriously inhumane sales of betta fish, PETA is releasing a new video exposé revealing that listless, sick, and dead bettas were found floating in tiny, barren plastic containers with low water levels at Petco stores across the country, including 27 locations in Ohio. In response to the findings, PETA’s president sent an urgent letter to the retailer’s CEO, Ron Coughlin, today calling for an immediate end to the chain’s betta fish sales.

PETA eyewitnesses uncovered rampant, systemic neglect of these vulnerable fish while visiting more than 100 Petco locations—including in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, where dead bettas were found in three stores, obviously ailing ones were found in six stores, and water contaminated water by old food, feces, and algae was found in 14 stores. A worker at a Cleveland store admitted that the long shipment process is so stressful for the fish that many die shortly after arrival, remarking that “a lot of fish that come into a store [on Friday] don’t last through … a weekend.” Another employee remarked that a betta dying from a treatable illness had likely been neglected by employees.

“Betta fish are complex, vulnerable little animals who are being left to languish in filthy water and denied care for sickness, to the horror of decent Petco staff and customers,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA’s disturbing findings have revealed widespread suffering at Petco stores across the country, and the company needs to end betta fish sales immediately.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that betta fish are often starved for days during transport to stores and that many die in transit. Scores of Petco customers have reported finding dead, sick, and injured bettas floating in filthy water on the store’s shelves.

Broadcast-quality video footage from PETA’s exposé is available here. For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind