2017 - 86 (4)

Potential welfare issues of the Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) at the retailer and in the hobbyist aquarium

Betta splendens is an extremely popular ornamental fish among hobby aquarists. It has aninteresting behavioral repertoire, particularly where male aggression and territoriality are concerned.The lack of scientific studies investigating optimal housing conditions in combinationwith the wide variety of commercially available husbandry products, raises questions about thewelfare status of these fish in captivity. In this article, an overview of the available literature onthe biology of the betta and general considerations of ornamental fish keeping is given, and environment-and animal-related factors with potential impact on the welfare of Betta splendensare examined. Although more research using biological and physiological indicators is needed,the following factors constituting welfare problems have been identified: an aquarium of limiteddimensions, prevalence of Mycobacterium spp. infection, aggression to and from conspecifics orother species in the same aquarium and the limited ability to escape, potential for stress due toprolonged visual contact between males in shops and during shows, and the lack of environmentalenrichment in the form of sheltering vegetation.

Full text: 
pp 213-223