View Full Version : Sick Betta at Store: A Moral Dilemma

lotus flower
12-29-2010, 03:18 AM
Hey, everyone!

So, I was at Petco today looking at aquarium supplies (I'm out of town visiting my family), and I saw two dead fish in one of the tanks with some shrimp feeding on them. What's worse yet is that I saw several sick and dying bettas in their bowls...one of them appeared all but dead, lying somewhat sideways at the very top of his small bowl of water.

Another betta was very sick with fin and tail rot. His bowl said he was a half-moon, but I couldn't tell because of the extent of the tissue damage. If he is, then well half of his fins have rotted away completely.

Here is my dilemma: I don't have any of my aquarium supplies here with me and have limited money. This fish will probably die if I buy it and try to save it. And they're asking $15 for these bettas, which is about three times what I would pay at my LFS. And this betta is so sick, I don't know if it can be saved. But my heart is broken and I am absolutely disgusted by what I saw at the store. I know I will be going back tomorrow to speak with the manager. Can I offer to pay something like $5 to take the betta home and try to save it? I mean, no manager can argue with me that he is a healthy specimen. Then I can buy a small bowl and change/medicate its water every day until he recovers. I will be home on January 8th and can put him in my betta tank when it's cycled in a few weeks. I can buy some Maracyn...I think that'll treat the fin and tail rot.

Or should I just inform the manager that this is unacceptable and not use my limited resources to support a store that doesn't care for their animals?

Either way, this fish's life was nasty, brutish, and short.

12-29-2010, 03:45 AM
I would go with option one where you take and try to save him. but thats just me.

12-29-2010, 03:46 AM
Definitely talk to the manager, but I'm not sure it will do any good. It will depend on how willing he or she is to listen and become informed and educated. And that will depend on the size of the manager's ego and his or her attitude.

As much as you wish you could, you're under no obligation to rescue this store from its own folly. If this Betta is that far gone, it might already be too late. I suggest you save your money to cover the needs of the fish you already have. Since you went there to get aquarium supplies, you obviously need some things for your own tanks.

A tough decision, I know. The best thing we can do for these fish is try to educate, and that only works when folks are willing to learn. If you are successful at getting through to this manager, you might save the lives of many more fish at this store in the future. That's worth a shot.

-- mermaidwannabe

12-29-2010, 05:00 AM
If you buy him they will just replace him with another. The best thing to do would be to talk with the manager on ways they may be able to improve the conditions the bettas are in.

Michael Milligan
12-29-2010, 08:38 AM
Either way, this fish's life was nasty, brutish, and short.

Don't feel bad. This would describe the lives of basically every fish to ever live. There isn't enough room in this post to write the fraction representing the tiny number of the earth's fish that have landed in a hobbyist (competent or otherwise) aquarium. Besides, there was surely a tank full of feeders that are even more doomed. Why did you pick out bettas? How many bloodworms have suffered and died to feed these creatures?

I know that no one here seems to agree with my view that these animals live and die for our entertainment. And before someone mentions that feeders are ok because that's what they are meant for... I'm pretty sure crickets or gold fish or bloodworms don't care about our motivations. And, if they could choose at all, I think ALL of them would pick to live in one of those little betta cups over getting dropped into the piranha tank. Wouldn't you?

As for telling the manager... couldn't hurt. It can't be good for business to have people come on forums like this and talk about how crappy the conditions in their fish section are. And when people acquire sick, disease riddled fish, these fish they are more likely to die prematurely and we as hobbyist are more likely to loose a fellow or potential hobbyist. And while I don't care about terrible plight of brineshrimp, I do care about promoting this hobby we all love! :goldfish: :fish:

12-29-2010, 09:06 AM
Purchasing the betta, the bowl and the medication will only fuel a business where fish are kept poorly. If you don't like how fish are being kept at a business dont shop there, one person speaking to a manager of a chain shop will do very little. Their practices are encoded onto a video or small training seminar for the "fish pros" they usually employ who neither practice nor care about the hobby. If you would like to own a betta, choose one from a breeder or a quality LFS. Even coming from a beeder they dont cost much more than these chains are charging. Just my dime....

12-29-2010, 01:26 PM
Great post MCHRKiller! Your comment applies to all animals.....buy from a good breeder and save yourself some heartache.

I know it's hard to not "save" the fish, but in doing so, you're encouraging poor fish keeping. Retailers will have no motives to do better, if folks are going to buy from them anyway.

This is something I struggle with every time I see the bettas in a cup at our local Wal-Mart. They don't even have a fish section! The poor fish are stuck on a shelf (to die a slow death) right next to the pet foods.


12-29-2010, 03:28 PM
Agree with both of the above. If you buy fish that are poorly kept, you are supporting the business of poorly keeping fish. It's very very simple.

If you think restaurant food should be healthier, would you go into a McDonalds, complain to the manager about how much saturated fat is in a Big Mac, and then order a combo meal to go? I should hope not.

I understand the urge to "save" this particular fish, but you have to understand that if you do give them your money, you are dooming more fish to be treated the same way in the future.

lotus flower
12-30-2010, 05:09 AM
Thanks, everyone...

I rechecked my finances and really can't afford to treat the betta anyway...and you are all right that it would just support the bad practices the store is employing and another betta would replace him.

My mother fears I would look like a lunatic if I went in to speak with the store manager, and since this is her town, I'm opting for writing a letter to the corporation's headquaters. I will be polite but explain that I will not be shopping there until they either improve the health and general condition of the fish they are selling or stop selling fish altogether. It looks like that store is phasing out their fish section--many of the tanks were empty. Perhaps they've had complaints before. I used to shop there for dog food, which is quite expensive since I buy organic. Dropping that bit of information couldn't hurt, either.

I'll let you know if I hear back from headquarters.

Thank you for the good advice, everyone!

12-30-2010, 02:32 PM
As much as I applaud your wanting to help out...NEVER buy a sick animal from someone - a pet store or a back-yard breeder, etc.

If they can make money selling sick animals...they will continue to sell ill animals, or ill-bred animals, etc.

If they can't sell - they will improve their care policies...or stop selling livestock...both are great options.

Michael Milligan
12-30-2010, 06:40 PM
If they can't sell - they will improve their care policies...or stop selling livestock...both are great options.

or replace them with new ones because they make more money on one container of "betta bits" than they do on 10 betta fish. Just like garden centers, they make their money one accessories.

01-15-2011, 03:46 AM
I recently fell victim to this problem...I went to walmart and saw all these dying fish and felt horrible for all of them. Poor things. I saw a bunch of bettas each sitting in a cup of blue water, many of them had nubs instead of fins, and their fins lying in chunks at the bottom of the cups. The "manager" of the fish section--a young guy who obviously knew nothing about anything--overheard me complaining to my husband about how sad it is that these poor fish are kept in tiny cups for who knows how long only to fall apart and die. He proceeded to tell me that "these fish are capable of surviving in these cups for years". I was so disgusted that I told him that thats all they are doing--surviving--and that if I threw him onto a cage just big enough for him to turn around in that he could probably "survive" for years as well. (LOL!) And when I (apparently) informed him that many of the fish were suffering from fin rot, he looked surprised and was like "really?" Anywho there was one betta who actually looked ok and I felt so bad for him that against my better judgement I took him home with me.I didnt really think about it then, but I do understand and agree that in buying this fish, I was, in reality, supporting this cruel practice, and that part I do regret. But at the same time I do feel good knowing that one fish got out alive and is now happy and healthy.

If only we could save em all :fish:

Lady Hobbs
01-29-2011, 12:17 AM
Do not buy sick fish. It makes no sense to buy a sick fish then have to put money into medications to try to keep him alive.

With limited resources right now, it also sounds as you have no tank, heater or filter? You will also need dechlorinator and food, as well. Best to just not buy a fish until you have all you need for one.