After seeing so many misconceptions and false information being spread about bettas, I felt that it was time to set the facts straight. More specifically, I'll be foucusing on the myths regarding betta housing and temperature. For more information on other myths, check out the Myths vs. Reality page.
This is one of the main myths I'd like to thoroughly bust because it is just so common and that many bettas are affected from living in too small of a home. This particular myth is also the one that many people believe is true.
One reason why people often say that bettas can live in tanks smaller than 2.5 gallons and be happy is because that's how bettas live in their natural habitat. However, this is simply not true. Bettas come from slow moving shalow rice paddies that can span for miles. Although the water is only 1-2 feet deep, the area it covers is vast. The reason why this myth exists is because during the dry season, those shallow rice paddies dry up, testing the betta's ability to survive. Not all bettas make it through this time, but those that do are also part of the reason why bettas are known to be such hardy fish. Although they can survive, that does not mean that they are happy or thriving. There is a difference between just living and living a happy life. Here are a few pictures of a betta's natural habitat.
Alternatively, many inexperienced betta owners say that bettas get stressd out if they are in large tanks such as 10 or 20 gallon tanks. They claim that tanks such as these tire a betta out since they have to patrol a "large" space. However, 10g is nothing compared to the betta's natural habitat. And the extra space is great because it provides room for bettas to really spread out their fins. Not only that, but the space allows the betta to swim around and explore and just be active. Bigger is always better. In large tanks (10-20g), you can safely heat the aquarium, add other fish, and keep the water clean and stable.
Another reason many people give to justify getting tiny tanks is because the tank was specified as a betta tank, or that it is perfect for bettas. However, this is just an adverting ploy used by the manufacturers to sell their product. Using the word betta or phrases such as "betta tank" is similar to using huge brand names such as Sony, Gucci, Rolex, or any well-known product. Without the brand name, that shirt or purse or watch becomes an ordinary object. But once it is labled as Coach, the demand greatly increases and the product can be sold for a lot more.
The same goes for betta tanks. By saying that they are betta tank and not some ordinary fish tank, it makes it seem more special and more exclusive, making it more appealing. Why buy some other aquarium when this one was made for bettas? This is exactly what the manufacturers want you to think. It does not cost much money making those plastic tanks yet they sell for as much as a 10g tank ($10 at Walmart and $12 at Petco). Manufacturers make a huge profit from selling small tanks and will do anything to make money, including saying their product is made for bettas.
Another belief that many first time betta keepers have is that bettas can live at room temperature and that bettas don't need heaters. However, unlessyou live in the tropics where the temperature is 80F year round, then you do need a heater. If you don't believe me, here is the current temperature,on 24/7 so you can always check, in the heart of the betta's home in Southeast Asia.
This myth most likely came out because it makes betta keeping seem much more convenient, thus making buying a betta more appealing. I'veheard many petstore employees telling customers that bettas are very easy to keep, that all you need is a bowl, food, and water conditioner. Bypitching bettas in this manner, they become a much more appealing pet. "A beautiful pet that requires barely anything, why not get one?" If thecostumer was told the truth that bettas are tropical fish that need a heater, it would make the purchase less appealing.
The box often says that small tanks are great for beginners and that small tanks are easier to maintain. However, the opposite is actually true. Inorder to maintain good water quality, one would have to do 50% water changes 2-3 times a week. Not only is this a big hassle for the owner, but italso causes unecessary stress for the betta. In addition to that, it is difficult to properly heat tanks smaller than 2.5 gallons without harming yourbetta. Just remember, vases are for flowers and bowls are for cereal.