22 April 2010

Of Fish and Hippies

Well, about a fortnight ago, my Lightbulb Fishbowl was featured on Etsy Finds. This resulted in a torrent of sales and quite a few convos.
Several of the convos were pleas for me to take the fishbowls off Etsy and reconsider what I was promoting.

And after a lot of thought (and I mean a LOT), I have decided that I'm going to keep the fishbowls on Etsy (I did take them off for a while).
I have had fish for years. I love fish. Betta fish are one of my favorites because they are so versatile and live in such a variety of containers happily. I have kept them in old lanterns, antique soda bottles, jars, vases, and other such neat glassware. They've lived as long as the average betta should. They seem happy.

My newest idea was a lightbulb. And I haven't put them in the standard size lightbulb. That seems a bit small. But the vanity type lightbulbs... And the G40 kind (they hold about a quart of water) seem to do nicely. My fish are happy in there. And contrary to popular belief, they are quite easy to care for in a lightbulb.

Water changing. Simply pour out the desired amount (you can strain it through a fork if you're worried your fish may try swimming out (I've never had any trouble with it, though)) and fill it back up. With filtered water, of course. I read someone used a funnel for this.

Getting the fish in the lightbulb is not hard either. It is so easy if you put the fish in a bag (or if he/she came in a bag) and simply pour it in the opening. I always advise doing this over the sink or bathtub as a precaution. The person who used a funnel for pouring in water also used it to pour in their fish. I've never tried it myself, but it sounds like a nice easy alternative to the bag!

Oh, and if you are worried about an ammonia build-up, change the water more often! I'm lazy, though, and use carbon rocks which soak up the ammonia wonderfully (electric filters in most aquariums use carbon gravel stuff for this very purpose). Of course I do still change the water. But the rocks really do help!

Many of the naysayers who contacted me a fortnight ago would say something about cruelty... Either the fishbowl being cruel, or me.
Well, anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a cruel person... I love my animals SO much. Ask anyone who is even somewhat acquainted with me. I would never intentionally hurt any animal, and certainly not repeatedly over the course of many years.

I do not believe what I am doing is wrong or cruel.
Sorry if what I'm doing doesn't float your boat.
I have a vase version of the fishbowls still up for you who don't like it.

But anyhow...
Good day to you, and Happy Earth Day!



  1. hi star - i've been following your blog - i, too, have had bettas in various containers - i have also seen them kept in very tiny vessels, and felt bad - i've had them in quart-sized bowls and 10-or-more-gallon aquariums - they seem to be happy in anything larger than what they were in at the pet store! as long as the water is clean and gets changed regularly, and they have a nice little environment available to them, they seem fine - as far as ammonia build-up, goldfish are by far the worst offenders and doing water changes is important even when you have a sophisticated aeration and filtering system! i say, keep on doing the lightbulb betta house! (now i have to go see what you're referring to!) happy earth day! TJ Googins

  2. You're sick. Whether or not the animal lives for a long time does not matter. It is about quality of life, and the quality of those fish lives' is terrible. I can't believe you could think of keeping a fish in there. They may not die but they are definitely not enjoying life. Would you think it's cute if your parents trapped you in a closet for the rest of your life? You go stay in a closet for a week straight and see how cute it is then.

  3. Hello, Star -

    As I mentioned in my previous communication to you, I am ASTONISHED and DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED that you decided to re-list these lightbulbs as suitable homes for fish and other aquatic creatures - especially after receiving numerous messages and convos from caring persons who are TRULY CONCERNED about those creatures.

    I am NOT a fish expert and I am the first to say that. I will say that the first time I saw your Etsy listing with the picture of that poor fish trapped in that lightbulb, my heart was "tugged" in the same way that it is when I come across a chained dog, a starving cat, a beaten horse.

    Though I am NOT a fish expert, I would no more consider a lightbulb a suitable home for a fish than I would a shadowbox for a bird. Though the lightbulb and shadowbox might make a pretty visual "frame" for the beautiful creature inside, a HOME is not merely a frame.

    As the song goes, "Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly..."


    I do NOT consider a lightbulb - even one containing "about a quart of water" (your words) a suitable HOME for a betta fish. Even if this betta fish got OUT 3-4 times a day for "walks," I would NOT consider a quart of water suitable STORAGE of a betta fish.

    However, since I am NOT a fish expert and my PRIMARY goal is to educate, enlighten, and empower others to do the same in regards to humane treatment of animals, I have done some research to learn what is considered "proper, correct, humane" sizes of containers for HOMES for betta fish.

    I would like to reiterate the word "HUMANE" - it means the betta fish are not merely kept alive and breathing - rather, they have a living space and atmosphere that includes MANY features they would find in their natural habitat: room to swim, frolic, and play; similar landscape and plantscape; company of their own kind; etc.

    In my research, I did discover that "company of their own kind" - in the world of betta fish (Siamese fighting fish) is debated - it apparently depends not just upon the amount of room they have, but also on the genders, ages, etc. It does seem logical to me, however, that betta fish don't spend ALL their time fighting and killing each other - after all, they do propagate with "company of their own kind." However, If I were going to own betta fish, I would definitely do LOTS more research before making a decision about that.

    Though I have no doubt one can find any number of websites promoting and selling containers of ANY size as suitable for betta fish, I again reiterate the word "HUMANE." Those who are TRULY interested in HUMANE are going to be LESS INTERESTED IN PROFIT.


    Following are five quotes (including the online links) from sites that not only have expertise in betta fish, but also are concerned with their WELFARE and HAPPINESS:

    "One important factor in betta fish care is to use a container that allows the fish to swim around a bit. Bettas can of course survive in the little jars they are often sold in, but this is far from a healthy environment and bettas in such tight quarters may fade in color and become sluggish. Bettas don't need a huge amount of space, but a little room to swim, and a decent amount of surface area for the fish to get gulps of air in are recommended. As a suggestion, a 1 to 2 gallon fish bowl is a good option."

    "Choose a home. In the wild, bettas inhabit Thai rice paddies. Hence, they are fitted to living in relatively shallow but spacious environments. However, consider giving your betta a decent sized tank to help prolong its life, since waste can build up very quickly. Naturally, more water is better, but a 5 gallon tank is acceptable. If keeping your betta with other fish or aquatic animals, then use a tank of at least ten gallons.
    * Larger tanks will enhance its quality of life."

    "1.5 gallons is 6 quarts and that's a pretty big fish bowl. We might put one Betta in a half gallon bowl but 1.5 gallons is much better."

    "Most bettas do well in an aquarium that is around 1 to 2 gallons as this size is perfect for a single fish as it is large enough for your betta to swim around."

    "2 gallons and up is a good size and gives you more landscaping options."

    To anyone considering these lightbulbs (or any other container) as a HOME for betta fish - or animals of any kind - I implore you to do your own research and get the BEST advice you can find that will assure these creatures have a HUMANE, HAPPY life of their own - not just as "adornments" or "decor" to yours.

    To you, Star, as well as to all those who have animals of any kind, I ask you to CONTINUALLY seek an openness of heart and mind. I, myself, as a lifelong animal owner/trainer/advocate (59 years now) have learned that as much as I endeavor to "train" animals and their owners, I will NEVER teach THEM as much as they have taught ME.

    Though I have always INTENDED the best in my methods, I have - time and again -
    learned that sometimes I was WRONG in what I was doing or that there is a BETTER WAY TO DO IT. In these cases, I am QUICK to alter my actions - since I truly CARE about doing RIGHT or BEST, I don't waste time denying or defending.

    I immediately CHANGE. I, and the animals and their owners I serve, are BETTER for it.