After concerned shoppers alerted PETA to a pop-up stall selling betta (Siamese fighting) fish in Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre in Geelong, we reached out to the centre and they were quick to respond with a compassionate decision to never again allow the sale of live animals at stalls of this kind.
The fish at the Mini Mates Aquariums stall were restricted to tiny glass jars, despite the fact that each one of these fish requires a minimum of 9.5 litres of water to be healthy. Betta fish are complex animals– not novelty items – and they experience frustration and depression when deprived of adequate enrichment in the form of caves, plants, and plenty of room to explore.
In a recent PETA Asia investigation into the global betta fish trade, an eyewitness visited 10 betta fish breeding and packing facilities in Thailand, where tens of thousands of bettas were housed in cramped bottles containing barely enough water to cover their bodies. Fish were found floating motionless in contaminated, filthy water. When they’re transported around the world on journeys that can take days, they’re packed without any food. A worker told the eyewitness that they add a tranquiliser to the water to keep the fish from eating their own tails.
Fish are far more complex than most people realise. Experts have determined unequivocally that they communicate, form social bonds, grieve, and are capable of experiencing fear, pain, and stress. The New York Times reported that fish can experience depression and possess “neurochemistry … so similar [to humans] that it’s scary”. In study after study, fish are defying expectations: some use tools, and some recognise individual human faces. Male bettas are devoted and fiercely protective fathers who build bubble nests for their young.
Many people who purchase fish from pet shops – especially bettas, who are often bought as gifts or decorations – fail to appreciate how complex their needs are. As a result, many bettas lead lonely lives in subpar conditions before dying early and being disposed of like objects.
Fish aren’t gifts or “starter pets”. They are unique individuals who possess many of the same traits as cats and dogs and should be treated with the same respect.
Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre has acted swiftly in the interests of fish by no longer accepting businesses like Mini Mates Aquariums as a vendor.
This is how change happens. If you see something like this happening near you, say something! When people know better, they do better.
Always speak up for animals and join our action team now!