You’ve waited a lifetime for that special day of your wedding. Or maybe you’re in charge of planning an anniversary or birthday party and you want everything to be just perfect. Now, what would be a lovely centerpiece for the guests to enjoy? If you’re thinking of a betta on each table it’s time to think again. Healthy Betta strives to help keep bettas healthy, happy, and safe with proper care and strongly advises against using bettas as centerpieces. There are many reasons using bettas as centerpieces is cruel. We encourage you to consider why it is not the best choice before committing to doing so, as there are better options out there.
One of the first things that make a betta centerpiece a bad idea is a small space in which the betta will be kept. Often times it consists of a small glass bowl that barely gives the fish enough swimming room. This in itself will make the betta uncomfortable. Not to mention if the bowl does not have a cover of some sort, the betta could jump right out and preoccupied guests may not even notice. Or you never know what some curious child may decide is a good idea to put in the bowl for fun. Along with the inadequate container, comes the issue of keeping the tank at the proper temperature. Being tropical fish, bettas will not do well kept at room temperature, which averages at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit for people to be comfortable. A betta on the other hand likes 78-80 degrees to be at his best.
Candles should never be placed in water containing fish. The fish will most likely end up dying after being exposed to toxic dyes and perfumes.
Fake flowers or plants sticking in the water may not be aquarium-safe and could leach harmful chemicals into the water. They may also have sharp knobs on the stems that could snag a betta’s delicate fins and hurt him.
Stress and Activity Level
At any social gathering, people are going to be enjoying themselves just as you want them to. However to the fish in the middle of the table this means talking, plates and silverware clanking, bumping of the table, and other activities around the tank will just stress him out. Imagine what it would be like to be in that small little tank with so much activity going on around you. You have nowhere to swim or hide to get away from it all. Instead, you are exposed to it for possibly hours on end.
Homes for the Fish Afterwards
Probably the most important factor after putting the bettas through a stressful day, is who is going to give them a good home afterward? Many people are not going to want to take the fish home and most will not be prepared to handle one. The proper supplies for a betta include at least a 1-gallon tank, substrate (gravel, etc.), plants for the tank, a thermometer, a heater if necessary, food, a water conditioner, possibly medication. This is something to consider…since you have to give the fish away, will people want to purchase these things? They are necessary for the betta to be happy and healthy for the rest of his life.
Or worse yet, what happens if you can’t find people who want the bettas? Will you return them to the store so they at least have a chance of survival? If you have any compassion towards living things, flushing fish could never be an option. This is awful in itself as the fish often suffer for a while before they pass away. Think about what this will be doing to these bettas that could have been a wonderful pet for someone at the store. Considering the idea to use bettas as a centerpiece seemed like a good idea, the host is likely not familiar with caring for bettas and isn’t prepared to take 10 or 20 home either.
Other Centerpiece Ideas
We all know that when it comes to weddings, budgeting is important. One of the reasons people claim to go with bettas as centerpieces are because it is inexpensive. Sure they are neat to look at, but so are many other affordable options. Simply type the keywords “affordable centerpieces” in a search engine such as Google and you’ll find hundreds of other suggestions.
If worst comes to worst, and it is being done anyway…
Healthy Betta does not agree with this practice and certainly doesn’t encourage it. If you still feel as though it is something that you’re going to do regardless please take some kind advice from HB. This will hopefully make the experience a little bit better for the bettas.
1. Absolutely do not put candles or other non-aquarium safe items in with the fish.
2. Do not buy as many fish. Focus on a few main tables for the centerpieces. Since you’ll be saving money, try to buy them slightly larger containers.
3. Be sure the container has a cover with air holes. A fine mesh material works well to cover the top. You could use something such as white pantyhose cut to size and secured with a ribbon. This will prevent the betta from jumping out and hopefully anything harmful from getting into the tank.
4. Make sure the water is fish safe. In other words, it has been treated with a water conditioner to remove Chlorine and other harmful substances that will kill the fish.
5. If you’re going to give the fish away, make sure to include a general care sheet.
6. Do not raffle the fish off. How likely is it that the people winning actually want the betta and the responsibility of taking care of him? Instead, let people approach you for the fish. Announce that they are free to a good and loving home and that you have care sheets available. If you have to do this, wouldn’t it be easier with just a few fish instead of one from each table? If for some reason you end up having to keep them yourself, it will be much easier to manage and care for them.
7. Think and plan out what you’re doing ahead of time. If it doesn’t seem worth it for the trouble of maintaining the bettas, please consider other ideas. Take some time to review the Healthy Betta Website to research basic betta care before making a final decision.
It is just one day for your special event, but the fish will require care and attention long after the party is over.