Head to many stores that sell fish, and you will often find that they are selling Betta fish in small pots. This is likely to ensure that the Betta fish are not fighting (the males can kill each other easily), but it is also because there seems to be a rumor going around that a betta in a vase is an OK thing to do. It isn’t, and that is exactly what we want to talk about on this page.
Can You Keep a Betta in a Vase?
No. It is inhumane. Some people attempt to defend the idea of keeping a betta in a vase by claiming that ‘in the wild’ betta fish will often live in small, shallow bodies of water. This is true. However, there is a world of difference between a rich, wild ecosystem and a vase in a person’s home. It is impossible to completely replicate a Betta fish’s natural habit at home. The best you can do is get close to it, and that is not going to happen with a normal vase.
Why Don’t Vases Work?
There are several reasons why vases are not going to work with betta fish. In fact, many of these reasons will often apply to any fish that you decide to place into a vase.
Not Big Enough
Yes. Betta fish are known for living in some pretty small locations. However, we promise you that wherever a Betta fish lives I’m the wild, it is going to be a lot larger than your typical vase. If you put your Betta fish in an average-sized vase, it can’t swim around properly. It can’t turn. It won’t have the water to explore. It is going to be quite a sorry existence. Imagine if you were confined to a tiny, tiny room for the rest of your life. How would you feel?
Fish produce a lot of waste, and water is going to be a breeding ground for bacteria. If the water that your Betta is live in is not properly filtered, then your Betta will essentially be swimming in their own filth. Your Betta fish is going to be breathing in all sorts of toxins and this is going to lead to an early death. Not only this, but a lack of filtration will reduce the amount of oxygen in the water. Basically, your fish will start to suffocate.
There are a lot of people that claim that regular cleaning can help you get around this problem. It cannot. Trust us. If you have a small vase with a Betta in it, you could be cleaning that vase every single day, but the water will always end up filthy, and this is always going to be adversely impacting the Betta fish.
Betta fish originate from parts of the world with warmer climates. This means that they need warm water to live in. Their bodies have essentially been built for it. If the water that they are swimming in has not been warmed up to the temperature that they need, they will get very cold. This is going to lead to an early death for the Betta fish. No. Betta fish that have been raised in captivity will not have ‘evolved’ to deal with the colder waters in a vase. They may have been raised in captivity, but they do still need that warmth.
Not Enough Surface Area
Betta fish breathe a little bit differently from other fish. This is due to the way in which they live in the wild.
In normal cases, fish will be able to get their oxygen from the water. While Betta fish do this too, there generally isn’t enough oxygen in the water that they normally swim in the wild. This is because the water tends to be a bit shallower and tightly packed. So, Betta fish will regularly return to the surface in order to get a big gulp of oxygen into their system.
The problem with a vase is that there will likely not be enough water flowing into the top of the vase for them to be able to breathe when they return to the surface. Once again, this is likely going to cause your Betta to suffocate to death.
Bettas are Carnivores
Bafflingly, there are some people that seem to believe that Bettas eat plants. They do not. They are carnivorous animals. If your Betta is eating mostly plants, then this is going to cause issues. Some people put Bettas into vases and expect them to eat the plants. Things do not work like that. Bettas need that animal protein going into the system, which can cause even more issues.
Betta fish normally feed from the surface of the water. They love to take in flies and whatever insects are on the top of the water. This can be tricky to do when the Betta is swimming about in a vase. You could drop live feeders (e.g. some types of worms) into the vase, but this is going to be crowding the vase. Animal protein breaks down differently in the water too, which is ultimately going to be contributing to the bacteria problem that we mentioned before.
This is probably not the main reason why you should be avoiding keeping Bettas in a vase. However, you really should be aware that Bettas eat different food to most other typical aquarium fish, and keeping them in a vase will result in you struggling to give them the food that they need.
What to Do If You Still Want a Betta Vase?
By now, we were hoping that you were put off of the idea of having a Betta in a vase. However, if you are not, then there are a few things that you can do to make life a little more bearable for your Betta.
Minimum 5 Gallons In Size
Any vase that you put your Betta in should be capable of holding at least five gallons of water. This should give your Betta more of an opportunity to swim about and enjoy their life. Ideally, the bigger the vase, the better.
The Top Should Be Covered So They Can’t Jump Out
Betta fish are brilliant at escaping from tanks. They really try to put the effort in when their habitat requirements are not being met. Now, if you just put your Betta into a standard vase, this isn’t going to be an issue. The chances are high that the top of the vase will be so narrow that your Betta doesn’t stand a chance of getting out. Once you upgrade that vase to a five-gallon one, suddenly the Betta will have plenty of escape opportunities available to it.
The top of the vase should be covered up. You can use a bit of netting if you want. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, but we can assure you that it is a lot more aesthetically pleasing than having a dead Betta fish on your countertop.
Don’t worry about the covering blocking off too much oxygen. The size of the tank should provide a larger surface area for your Betta to breathe. Plus we are going to give you tips on how to oxygenate that water in other ways. Just make sure that you use that netting to ensure that oxygen flow isn’t completely restricted.
Add an Air Bubbler
It is important that you purchase an air bubbler for the tank. This will help to oxygenate the water and ensure that your Betta is able to breathe properly. While they still will return to the surface every so often to breathe (it is their natural behavior), with an air bubbler, you never have to worry about the Betta fish suffocating.
The air bubbler is actually going to be pretty stimulating for your Betta too. Sure, it is going to be allowing them to breathe, but a lot of Betta fish love to swim through the air bubbles. This is great. You want your Betta to be having as much fun as they possibly can in that tank!
Add a Filter
It is important that you get a filter installed in that vase. This will help to clean the water for your Betta fish. It will ensure that they do not get sick. It will also help to keep their water clean so that they can actually breathe.
It is important to remember that adding a filter is not going to negate the need for you to clean that vase every so often. Regular water changes are always going to be a good thing when you have fish. Filters cannot remove everything, after all.
Add a Heater
You will need to add a heater to ensure that the water is kept between 75 and 80F. It can be a little bit higher than this, but never lower. These are pretty much ideal water conditions for your Betta fish. If that water gets too cold, then their immune system will stop working properly. This means that any bacteria left behind by the filter could potentially kill them.
Gravel will serve multiple purposes in the fish tank. For starters, gravel is a great substrate for vase plants. It provides the plant’s roots with something to grip onto.
On the ‘Betta benefits’ front, gravel will help to filter the water. It is also a substrate that doesn’t float quite so much. It is too dense. This means that you do not have to worry about the gravel damaging the fins of your Betta which, of course, are going to be very sensitive.
Decorations Inside The Vase
Do not overcrowd the vase with decorations. Even though 5-gallons may seem like a lot of space for your fish, it isn’t. The more decorations you have in that vase, the less space that your Betta has to roam in. That being said, you will need some decorations. Your Betta is going to need to have a bit of privacy every so often, so something to hide behind would be great for them.
Any decorations that you put into the water need to be ‘aquarium safe’.
Feed Them Right Food
It is important that you buy special food for your Betta. This means that they will not be eating the standard fish food, which is mostly plant matter. Instead, you will need to buy them food designed for carnivorous fish. This can come in the form of small pellets, bloodworms, or small insects that you can drop onto the surface of the water.
Can You Keep A Betta Fish In A Vase With A Peace Lily?
If you are keeping your betta fish in a vase, then you can keep it with a peace lily. However, you will have to ensure that the peace lily is not obstructing any oxygen that is flowing into the vase. If it is, then your betta fish could end up dying.
What Plants Are Good For A Betta Fish Vase?
Most plants should be fine for a Betta. However, many people will recommend using peace lilies, Java Fern, or Chinese Evergreen plants. However, as long as something is labeled as being suitable for fish aquariums, then it should be safe for the Betta fish. However, it is important that you do not include any artificial plants in the vase. A lot of fish have been known to injure themselves on them.
Generally speaking, you should not let your Betta fish live in a vase. The conditions are going to be far too cramped, and this can often lead to serious injury or death to your Betta fish. If you are insisting that your Betta should be living in a vase, then make sure that you try to make conditions as comfortable as possible for them. This will help to ensure that your Betta is able to live a long and happy life in the vase.