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Betta fish bowls; To buy or not to buy?

Some stores sell sphere aquariums, or aquariums which look like big glasses. Of course, such fact isn’t bad in it’s basis. What might become bad is that some people use such fish tanks for keeping Siamese Fighting Fish (Bettas) males incorrectly. Bettas are one of the most beautiful freshwater fish around the world and that’s why aquarists (including all ages, sexes, amateurs or professionals) house them. Generally, people want to have an extraordinary aquarium with this extraordinary fish. Bear in mind that a “Betta fish bowl” is usually a small aquarium, with no extra space for filtration device, plants and light. Is it OK? Isn’t it an animal abuse? In my opinion this kind of fish tanks should be used only as an aquarium with plants only. Imagine yourself in a such small room for all your life, would you accept it?

But why do people like such aquariums?

First, such product is very small and it can be moved at no time. People can have it on the table and maybe they feel that the fish is part of their life much more than fishes in big aquarium at the corner of the room. I don´t know what is your personal experience, however our first Betta male was social with us (people). At least I think so. Maybe he just thought: “Go away, I don´t want you here” and I just misunderstood him. Simply I am not the person who does understand animals...

Another reason for buying is that the sphere aquarium looks nice. Especially if it has a unusual shape, like a big brandy glass for instance. Maybe people think that it is normal because fish are kept in such tanks in TV (movies, cartoons, advertisement). But the truth is different!

The reasons why classic “Betta fish bowls” are not suitable for fish

Fish is a living being, just like other animal and human, and it has requires something for it’s life. First, they need space. The best “space” is something what makes them feel like swimming in natural environment. And such environment can’t be created in a few litre aquarium. Bettas come from Asia’s bogs where man can find plenty of plants in waters. They love to swim in planted aquariums. But one or two plastic plants can’t replace living ones. In addition, Bettas require air. Even they are able to breath directly from water surface, it is very exhausting to stay at the top only. OK, aerators can be used since the air stone is small. On the other hand, aeration doesn’t guarantee clean water. Changing the water every week can be very stressful for fish in such small aquarium. And, of course, an aquarium filter could turn the fish bowl into a washing machine. Even if you found a very powerless filter it could cause unwanted water circulation, because of the bowl shape.

In addition, despite of the size of nowadays aerators, I wouldn’t use any small aerator because it could take 1/3 of tank’s capacity. Another problem with a classic Betta fish bowl is that the specimens there usually swim round and round, which is not good for their mental health.

So if you want to have happy and healthy Bettas or other kind of aquarium fish you should decide for a normal, big, instead of a sphere shaped aquarium, with proper dimensions, suitable for plants, suitable for installation of filtration, aeration, heating and and guaranteeing good water condition.

Another point of view

I was talking about small tanks above. However, you may find large sphere aquariums starting at 100 Liters capacity. These products are usually suitable for many species including Bettas. Such aquariums are usually delivered with stands, light, filter, and plastic plants some rocks inside. The only disadvantage of such solution is the price. Usually starting at $500 and rising with the capacity it is still cheaper to buy an ordinary fish tank.

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