Do you people agree that bettas don't need a filter and heater?

  • #1
I went to my LFS on my lunch break and talked to the owner(he has owned the store for 20yrs). I talked to him about putting a Betta in a desktop size bowl/aquariums(which range from 1/2gal to 2.5gals) for my desk at work. I asked him about a filter and heater and all that. His reply was "The filter and heater are not needed. They would be good, but not needed. He said if I changed the bowl/aquarium once everyother day, the Betta should be good." He then showed me his Betta that he has next to the registered, he said he's had that Betta for 4yrs and the size of the bowl was 1gal. Then he said that you could keep guppies like that too.

So, I know people on here think is mean to put Bettas in small bowls/aquariums, but I can only keep desktop size bowls/aquariums at work. Bettas are my favorite and that's why I was asking if you think it'll be ok to do this?

Thanks for your opinion
  • #2
I haven't been at bettas very long but you did say "opinon" so here's mine.

I have 2 bettas. One is in a filtered tank and the other is not. Neither of them have heaters but their water is ALWAYS at the required temp. They both have thermometers that I keep an eye on. I do believe that the filtered tank is easier to deal with and probably less stressful on Raspy because water changes are not as frequent. Obviously, the smaller the tank the more water changes are needed.

I do believe that they can live in a small bowl or aquarium but I do not think it is fair to them. When you have a small bowl you almost have to do full water changes to keep the water even remotely clean and with more frequent water changes comes stress to the fish because their environment is being disrupted.

Personally, I think it would be too much to deal with in a work environment.

Phew. There is my 5 cents I am interested in other's thoughts as well as I am a newbie still.....
  • #3
I don't aggree with that,sorry. Bettas are tropical fish and need heated and filtered water, and bettas will live happier and longer lives in at least a 5 gallon tank.

  • #4
They will live in a smaller tank but they don't thrive. Changing water everyother day is really stressful on the betta(and you) and the small tanks are the pits to vacuum and keep clean. Most work places turn their air/heat off at night or at least turn it down . Being a small body of water the temps will fluctuate wildly. I learned all this with a small tank on my desk before I learned better
Most(the operative word) fish stores will tell you whatever they need to to sell their products and fish are part of their products.
Just my 2 cents worth
  • #5
Please don't ever put any fish in an unheated unfiltered bowl! People ask this question a lot, so I typed up some reasons why it is bad, let me see if I can find it...

Please don’t put your Betta in a bowl!
*Can't be heated--Bettas like a temp of 78-82 degrees; with low temps diseases such as Ich are very likely to strike, and they will be listless and unhappy
*No space to swim--yes they DO need to move around…would you like to be confined in your bathroom?
*Small volume of water--almost impossible to maintain the water quality they like; too much of a shock if new water after water change is different temp, etc; not enough room for hiding places/plants
*Can't be filtered--they need excellent water quality or may suffer from Ammonia poisoning
*Can't easily be lighted--fish need 12 hours of light to make enough vitamin D or they will get sick and eventually die
I could go on and on...but basically a bowl, a BOWL for pete's sake, is not suitable for keeping any type of fish. A betta should be kept in at least a 5 gallon tank.

And there are additional problems with Guppies, mainly that they will suffocate because of such a small surface area. Also they need at least 10 gallons to swim around in as they are very active fish.

It is possible for a Betta to survive in such a bowl, but he will be unhappy and unhealthy and probably won't live as long. Please keep Bettas in tanks of at least 5 gallons. They will thank you!
  • #6
Well, I am dragging out one of my smaller soap boxes as everyone has done a good job with the information. But there are a couple of points I need to make.

A Betta "breathes" air as well as through his gills. There is an organ under the skin at the top of his head called the Labyrinth organ that allow/require him to breathe (there are other fish like the Gourami who do this also) and if he is not given a VERY clean like dust and chemical free surface to get air from, he could become sick and perhaps even develop a condition leading to his death. In an office situation you can only be sure of what is going on around him while you are there. The cleaning crew is going to be coming in spraying chemicals and using cleaning supplies and there is a more than real possibility of the contamination of the tank. (and the smaller the tank the easier it is to do)

Secondly, you said the Bettas were your favorites. Well, as hard as this may sound and I do not mean to sound harsh believe me, who is it that we are trying to do the right thing for here? The best thing for the fish is to have a good tank home and if you know that he needs something and don't give it to him then I can guarantee that when he becomes ill you are going to feel bad. (and yes, I am speaking from personal experience) My first fish, a lovely Betta, was put into one of those little "betta bowls" and by the time I found this place and got him a decent home, his life had been considerably shortened by disease. I do not know that I have forgiven myself yet.

I hope this is helpful. I am not trying to make you feel bad, but I do think that you need to know these things and to put the needs of the fish first.

Welcome to and I do hope you are able to find what you need here.

  • #7
I'm a little puzzled...what's wrong with getting something bigger and keeping the betta at home? It would be nice I'm sure to have a little companion for work but really, wouldn't it be more fun to have him to come home to?
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
I had one, he disappeared. I woke up one morning and he was gone. I think my wife had something to do with it. She always said I spent to much time with the fish. (She doesn't love fish like I do.)
  • #9
I am so sorry but the best thing for the fish is not to be kept in these conditions.

I applaud the fact that you love the Bettas, but it is not a good idea to do this.

  • #10
I'm a little puzzled...what's wrong with getting something bigger and keeping the betta at home? It would be nice I'm sure to have a little companion for work but really, wouldn't it be more fun to have him to come home to?

I'm confused...are you saying you would bring him to work and then back home each day?
  • #11
And let's be honest....are you really going to keep up with those water changes? Before I knew better and had my betta in a bowl I started out saying oh sure I will do water changes every other day and he will be fine. And even with my good intentions, that did not happen and my betta was alive, yes, but he was only existing. After learning more about them I moved him into a larger tank (where water changes are weekly, much easier to accomplish this than every other day) and now he is living! The difference in their behaviors is amazing...Unless you want a fish that just sits at the bottom barely moving with dull colors, than get a 5 gallon with filter and heater and you will be able to truly enjoy your betta!
  • #12
I have a betta in a 2.5 gallon tank and he does quite well.  I have a 25w heater in with him to maintain the temperature at 80 and it works very nicely.  
 It has an auto shutoff so if I forget to unplug it during water changes, it won't break or blow up, and it turns back on by itself.

The only thing about having a smaller tank for them is that you have to be faithful about maintenance. I do weekly water changes of 50% with gravel vac and algae scraping.

If you want a smaller bowl for work and don't want to bother with a heater, I highly recommend one or two African Dwarf Frogs.  ADFs don't need warm water, they prefer cooler water, and are very entertaining to watch. That's what I have at work in a 2 gallon Eclipse tank. Again, though, you have to be faithful with the water changes, and I normally keep a turkey baster in my desk, too, as they molt and shed their skin every couple of weeks. That way I can just suck the skin out of the tank without having to do a bigger water change.  They are very lively and active and goofy as ****!

I like the Eclipse tanks because they are all self-contained with the filter and whatnot, but you can also get a palm HOB filter for the smaller non-Eclipse tanks, too.  I have one on my 2.5 All-Glass bowfront betta tank and it works wonderfully.  And they are very inexpensive. 
  • #13
Yes, smaller tanks CAN work but I've heard more than one person say they are a lot more work because you need more water changes and have to constantly monitor the temp since it is so easy to overheat. Personally I would not keep any fish in anything less than 5 gallons.

A couple more ideas for smaller, unheated bowls/tanks...Ghost Shrimp are awesome, or snails, just make sure they aren't the huge varieties like Apple or Mystery Snails.
  • #14
I wouldn't recommend snails unless you're prepared to deal with the explosion in snail population. For us puffer keepers, we love tons of snails, but the average aquarist seems to consider them more of a nuisance. Unless you get nerite snails, which only reproduce in brackish water.

If you're talking a shrimp tank, I'd recommend cherry shrimp, too. They are beautiful, and the babies are awful cute.
  • #15
Yeah Cherry Shrimp are cool. Ghosties are easier to find though.

I don't consider snails a nuisance. I've got a ton of Pond Snails in my 20 and I think they are cool. But if you don't want a ton of them you could just get one of one of the larger (but not huge) varieties.

Do you have Cherry Shrimp, or do you just like them?
  • #16
I have cherry, wood/bamboo and Amano shrimp. Had some ghosts until one of my bettas and puffers ate them. They're cheap, good food for puffers, especially when gut-loaded.
  • #17
I do not recommend on this section to put a Betta in an unheated bowl at any time of any size. Yes you can heat a 2.5 gallon tank but do not set the temperature at 80 degrees to expect 80 degrees. It will go to 85 or higher eventually and you will cook your fish. The smaller the tank the more work it is to maintain and the more fragile the ecosystem involved. It is never a good idea for a novice to start out with a small tank unless they have access to a lot of knowledge and are willling to do a LOT of work to maintain it. I totally agree with Manicivy that we all start with the best of intentions but it is too darn easy to let the water change slide "just for today" or " I don't have time I will do it later" it is NOT fair to the fish and I am 100% totally against the "I promise" syndrome. It just doesn't work.

  • #18
Well said Rose. I will admit that I sometimes have trouble getting done weekly water changes. I don't know what would happen if I tried to keep anything in a bowl. If I get a male Betta he will go in my 10 gallon (with the other fish moved out), just because I don't think I could properly maintain anything smaller. It is too easy to skip water changes and the smaller the tank, the worse the effect of doing so is.

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