bettas in cups at pet store

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

You walk into a pet store and there they are: rows of small cups, each holding a single, colorful Siamese fighting fish. Your eyes catch their vibrant fins and you wonder, “Why are these beautiful creatures in such small containers?”

It’s a common question and a good one too. In this article, we dive into the reasons behind this practice.

Key Takeaways

  • Betta fish are sold in cups because they have an aggressive nature and small cups help prevent fights between them.
  • Pet stores use cups to save space, as many bettas can live in a small area.
  • Lack of knowledge about betta fish leads to bad care, with tiny cups becoming homes for these fish in many pet shops.
  • Keeping betta fish in a cup negatively impacts their well-being due to restricted space and limited conditions.
  • Restricted space can cause stress and health issues like fin rot for bettas kept in small cups.
  • Divided community tanks and promoting compatibility with other peaceful fish species are better alternatives to selling betta fish in cups.
  • Proper care includes providing larger fish tanks (minimum of 5 gallons), filtration systems, stable water temperature, plants/decorations, and regular water changes.

Reasons for Selling Betta Fish in Cups

Aggressive nature of betta fish

One reason betta fish are kept in cups is due to their aggressive nature. They often fight and try to rule over other fish. This is part of who they are and how they act in nature. Pet stores often use small cups for bettas due to this forceful behavior, helping avoid fights between them.

Keeping two male bettas together can lead to harm because of their need to show who’s boss. In short, the tough ways of betta fish play a big role in the way pet shops treat them.

Space-saving in pet stores

Fish stores keep bettas in cups because it saves space. Many bettas can live in a small area this way. Pet shops find cups easy and low-cost.

Betta can survive temporarily in a small amount of water because they have a unique way of getting oxygen, and it sets them apart from many other fish. Most fish breathe by pulling water through their gills, where the oxygen gets absorbed.

But bettas possess an organ called a labyrinth. This organ lets them gulp air from the surface of the water. This is what allows them to survive in such a confined space.

Lack of knowledge and ignorance

Many pet stores know little about betta fish. This lack of knowledge leads to bad care for the bettas. Tiny cups become homes for these fish in many stores.

Such small spaces are not right for any kind of fish, let alone bettas. Being tropical fish, bettas need warm water and a lot of space to swim around in. They cannot get this space or warmth from a cup or a very small tank.

male betta fish in cup

Negative Impact on Betta Fish

Keeping betta fish in tiny cups has a negative impact on their well-being due to the restricted space and limited conditions.

Restricted space and limited conditions

Betta fish are often sold in cups because they require restricted space and limited conditions. These tiny cups provide a temporary home for bettas until they are bought by pet lovers.

However, these cramped spaces can be detrimental to the well-being of the fish. Betta fish need larger tanks with more space to swim freely and explore their surroundings. In these small cups, bettas may become stressed, which can lead to health issues and aggressive behavior towards other fish.

Providing betta fish with larger tanks not only improves their quality of life but also reduces their aggression towards other types of fish when housed together.

Potential health issues

Keeping betta fish in cups can lead to potential health issues for these beautiful creatures. The restricted space and limited conditions in a small cup can cause stress, which weakens their immune system.

This makes them more susceptible to diseases like fin rot, where their fins deteriorate. Additionally, overcrowding in these cups increases the chances of harmful bacteria like Columnaris thriving in the water, further endangering the betta fish’s health.

It’s important to provide bettas with proper care and larger tanks to ensure they live healthy and happy lives.

Alternatives to Selling Betta Fish in Cups

Instead of selling betta fish in cups, pet stores can offer divided tanks specifically designed for betta fish, allowing them to have their own space while still being visible to customers.

Additionally, promoting the compatibility of bettas with other peaceful fish species and educating customers about proper care requirements and larger tank sizes can provide better alternatives for the well-being of betta fish.

Divided tanks for betta fish

Divided pet store tanks are a great alternative to selling betta fish in cups. They have separate compartments to keep multiple bettas separate from each other. Divided tanks provide betta fish with more space and a more enriched environment.

This can improve the overall health and well-being of betta fish. Bettas require larger tanks with proper filtration and heating to thrive.

Compatibility with other fish

Betta fish can be compatible with other peaceful community fish, but it is important to keep them separate from other bettas. Bettas have a reputation for being aggressive, so they should not be housed together unless there is a barrier between them.

However, they can live happily with other non-aggressive fish like tetras and rasboras. It is crucial to choose tankmates carefully to ensure the well-being of both the betta and the other fish in the aquarium.

Proper care and larger tanks for betta fish

To properly care for betta fish, it is important to provide them with larger tanks that meet their needs. Here are some key points to consider:

  • The minimum tank size for bettas is 5 gallons.
  • This allows for enough swimming space and enables the fish to exhibit natural behaviors.
  • A larger tank also provides better water quality and stability, which is essential for the health of the betta.
  • Bettas require a proper filtration system in the tank to maintain clean water conditions.
  • A heater should be used to keep the water temperature stable, as bettas are tropical fish and require warmer temperatures.
  • Adding plants and decorations can provide hiding spots and enrichment for bettas.
  • Regular water changes are necessary to remove waste and maintain good water quality.
betta in a cup


Betta fish are often sold in cups due to their aggressive nature and the space-saving convenience for pet stores. However, keeping them in such small containers can have a negative impact on their well-being. It is important for pet owners to provide bettas with larger tanks and proper care to ensure they live healthy and happy lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are betta fish sold in cups?

Betta fish are often sold in cups or tiny bowls at many pet stores to save space and money.

Is it okay for betta fish to live in such small spaces?

No, it’s a myth that betta fish can survive well in little cups or bowls without a filter. It is harsh for any species of fish to live this way.

Should I keep my new pet betta fish in the cup it was bought from?

No, once you buy a betta from the store, it should be moved from the small cup into a larger tank as soon as possible.

Can two Bettas share the same tank?

It’s not advised to keep more than one male betta fish in the same tank because they could fight each other.

How does selling bettas in cups affect them?

Bettas kept in small containers suffer stress and poor health conditions which may even cause death.

Are there benefits for keeping Bettas out of cups or tiny places like bowls?

Yes! When Bettas are kept properly with enough space and clean water, they thrive and show their intelligence by interacting with owners.

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Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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Why are Betta Fish Sold in Cups?

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  1. I never knew that fish could be aggressive. I used to hear of them eating each other, but actually fighting is news to me. Thank you for these new insights!