how betta fish are shipped
by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals, Causes.
Photo: Peekabooscramble

If you think the tiny bowls of water betta fish are kept in at the pet store are cruel, then you’ll be shocked to find out how they are shipped.

A user on reddit posted detailed pictures under the title: “I work for a pet store. This is how betta fish are delivered from the vendor.”

Prepare yourself.

How betta fish are shipped
betta 2
betta 3

Many commented on the post asking questions like how many survive what appears to be a horrible and stressful shipping process. The original poster responded, “It’s true that DOAs are rare. But during the coldest/warmest months of the year, I’ve seen anywhere from 5-75% die days after from stress-induced fungal infections.”

To those who are wondering how a fish can survive in such little water, betta fish have the ability to breathe atmospheric air due to an organ called the labyrinth. This organ allows them to live in the wild in areas where other fish would not be able to thrive like large puddles, slow moving streams and drains.

Sadly, these fish can be seen at most large pet stores and are kept in tiny bowls with usually no other form of enrichment. A quick look on Petco shows that most are sold to consumers for under $5 (many of them on sale for $1.40). We assume the shipping methods are in place so that the animals can be mailed as cheaply as possible, no matter how stressful or cruel the process might be.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

View all posts by Ali Berman →
  • cybergabi

    I hate people.

  • Wanda Lee

    I hate seeing them in the plastic glasses, people need to know they are just like other fish and should be treated as such, they for the most part can be in with other types of fish just not another male beta…. Just because they are found in small puddles, doesn’t mean that is the ideal environment for them.

  • Colleen

    I’m not really an expert on the subject, and do personally hate how bettas are treated in large pet stores, but a lot of what is happening here is actually okay. Like the author said, bettas can survive in little water because they actually do breathe air. That of course doesn’t mean they should live in small amounts of water their whole lives, but for shipping purposes I don’t see the problem. Another thing, as you can see the water they’re in is sort of blue-ish. From what I’ve read it’s a chemical they use to keep the fish from over stressing during the trip. Puts them in like a lethargic mood. It’s probably similar to clove oil, which is actually recommended when traveling with bettas. Finally, though rather obvious, they are kept in individual bags because they would fight and kill each other otherwise.
    The only real cruelty I can gather from this article is the fact that bettas are shipped during cold and hot weather. I don’t know if the trucks they are shipped in are temperature controlled, but if not then that is extremely cruel.
    Honestly the care they are given during shipment is loads better than how they are treated once in the store. Not enough time is allotted to employees to care for them.