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Why Are Betta Fish Kept In Small Tanks?

Over the last year or so there has been no stopping the exponential growth rate of keeping betta fish as pets with this largely being due to so many of the rare colors and patterns you are able to get betta fish in being much cheaper than they once were.

This has resulted in more people owning these more unique looking betta fish meaning that more photographs of them are uploaded to social media with many of these photographs going viral and more people wanting to own a betta fish.

With so many first time fish owners looking to purchase their very first betta fish right now, we see a wide range of questions about the ideal diet, care, and aquarium setup for betta fish with more questions being asked each week.

Now, one question that we see asked every single month is why are betta fish kept in small tanks and this is such an important topic to cover so we wanted to publish our own article going over the subject.

Many of the people that we see reaching out and asking for advice on getting their first betta fish are rightly concerned about the tiny tanks and sometimes even cups that you can find better fish being kept in with many people wondering if it is cruel to keep the fish in such a small space.

Our regular readers will already know that we love seeing people be responsible when it comes to the care of their fish and it is great that you have reached out about this as keeping betta fish in such a small space is one of the most common mistakes that we see from the community time and time again.

Why Are Betta Fish Kept In Small Tanks?

The main reason that you see betta fish kept in small tanks in pet stores is either due to uninformed pet store staff or a pet store owner trying to increase the number of fish they can store in a limited space.

Betta fish should never be kept in a small tank with a male betta fish usually needing an aquarium of at least 5 gallons with no other tank mates as an absolute minimum.

Thankfully, there are some excellent, cheap 5 gallon aquariums on the market that first time betta fish owners are able to pick up to keep their new betta fish in.

Although a single male should be kept in those 5 gallon tanks, there are ways that you are able to set up a 5 gallon betta sorority tank for multiple female bettas but it is generally to small and a 10 gallon sorority tank is recommended.

Now, a 5 gallon aquarium really is the absolute minimum tank size that we would recommend that our readers use to keep their pet betta fish in with most experienced fish keepers choosing to use a cheap 10 gallon tank.

This offers more space for the betta fish to enjoy and offers a much higher standard of life for the fish while also offering ways to add tank mates to your betta fish tank such as an algae eater.

Is It Cruel To Keep Betta Fish In Small Tanks?

It is cruel to keep a betta fish in a small tank that is less than the recommended 5 gallon minimum due to the fish not having the space it requires to feel safe and enjoy life.

It is also cruel to keep betta fish in a 5 gallon tank that is overstocked as this also reduces the available space for the fish so you should only keep a single male betta in a 5 gallon tank.

In certain situations, it can actually be cruel to keep betta fish in larger tanks too as we have seen multiple people try to setup their own betta harem tank and overstock it thinking that a huge tank will allow for that.

If you are looking to set up your own betta harem tank then checking out our article going over tips and tricks for keeping a betta harem is definitely worth reading.

It will prevent you from making some very common mistakes that we see people make time and time again when trying out a betta harem tank but on top of that, it will also help you workout optimal stocking options for your fish for your tank size.

You could also use that information if you are just building a general community tank for your betta fish in a larger aquarium too but we usually only recommend this with female bettas in large tanks.

Can Betta Fish Live In 1, 1.5, 2, And 3 Gallon Tanks?

Although it is very common to see betta fish in 1, 1.5, 2, and 3 gallon tanks in pet stores, this is cruel and does not meet the recommended tank size for the species lowering the quality of life of the fish.

Just because a betta fish can technically live in a tank of that size does not mean it should be forced to as its quality of life is essentially zero and the fish will quickly develop health problems.

Our article on how to calm an angry betta fish goes into this in more detail but the most common reason for stress, anxiety, and anger in betta fish is due to being kept in a tank that is far too small for them.

Ignore what any pet store worker may tell you about it being find to keep your betta fish in these small tanks, they are incorrect and you there are plenty of sources online to back this up.

There really are some excellent, cheap 5 gallon aquariums on the market that the vast majority of our readers should be able to purchase without breaking the bank to help avoid this problem.

Those tanks can drastically increase the quality of life for your betta and actually help it enjoy being your pet compared to being in those small, tiny tanks that you often see betta fish in at the local pet store.


That brings our article going over why are betta fish kept in small tanks to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand why you should never keep your pet betta fish in such a small tank even though you can commonly find the species in them in pet stores. The vast majority of experienced fish keepers will agree that a betta fish should be in an aquarium that is a minimum of 5 gallons with many people opting to go with a 10 gallon tank for their fish.