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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to share this regarding fishkeeping practices with cichlids, tetras, bettas, etc., or any aggressive fish. When I have kept aggressive fish that I feed live fish, or I keep fish that nip fins and fight for territory, I get people voicing concerns that they should not be together. So I know there is an ethics issue, and would like to make them known so we can have discussion about them.

Here is an example: This issue regards an experiment keeping Male Bettas together in a 55g tank on a Betta forum, and speaks directly to the fact that we have no room in an average tank to successfully keep these fish:

Issue:
I feel this experiment doesn't have enough space per Betta fish. The territories you say are being fought over are too small, in nature these fish would at least have two feet square width and probably about 12 inches high, to govern, if not more. They don't have enough space, causing to much fighting, and eventually the stress will cause them to die of some disease. If they don't die from battle wounds first.

This could be successful, but must resemble nature, meaning a 100+ gallon tank that is 12" high, meaning very wide and long, and very well planted could host multiple male bettas. But, with so few hiding places, and not enough territory, the stress on each fish is to much. Fish aren't made to be always injured.

Answer:

Agreed, but not possible for the average person. I would say the same for cichlids, tetras, etc. No tank is as big as the rivers, streams, lakes, rice paddies, etc., they come from originally. I have never owned a fish that won't pick on, and attack the fins of another, except maybe for bottom dwellers like corys. (I'd love to hear from someone who has seen a cory fight! :}) or goldfish and guppies. No tetras or cichlids, etc., have anything but 'non-stop aggression'. They roll up on another, and if it doesn't move quickly, it get's nipped. Not experienced with guppies. But I don't think they nip each other. Maybe they do? Anyone want to say? I prefer aggressive fish keeping. If we have fish in an aquarium, we are putting them at risk. So the real important question is, 'are we enjoying our hobby, and learning from it?' Because the truth is; no fish belongs in a tank of any size
 

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Are you talking about that little experiment you started last January? Personally I think it's a waste of resources, i.e. the money/time used to acquire/maintain all of those fish, your 55g, etc, could be put to better use, but dude don't worry about other people's ethics. Go for it man, whatever floats your boat. Ethically speaking there's a whole lot worse going on in the aquarium industry. Peace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Are you talking about that little experiment you started last January? Personally I think it's a waste of resources, i.e. the money/time used to acquire/maintain all of those fish, your 55g, etc, could be put to better use, but dude don't worry about other people's ethics. Go for it man, whatever floats your boat. Ethically speaking there's a whole lot worse going on in the aquarium industry. Peace.
Yes! Thanks for responding. Also, many have had issue with keeping fish you have to feed with other fish, cichlids in the same tank fighting, etc. So it speaks to many of us who enjoy the hobby, but get the people saying it is wrong because 'you are hurting fish'. I think those of us who keep aggressive fish are punished. I would like to submit that any one who keeps fish is just as 'guilty', because no fish deserves to be in any size tank. They are kept for enjoyment. Because we are on the top of the food chain. 'Hello', top of the food chain here, speak to me please...
 

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well, its a well known fact that in nature big fish eat little fish.

humans eat everything, not necessarily just to survive. humans also hunt for fun, and keep pets for fun. its just the way it is, we hurt, kill and eat other animals for various reasons.

I think the things that we do to animals on purpose are minuscule compared to the unintended consequences of our daily life. I am taking about pollution, deforestation, industrial activity, industrial farming, overpopulation.
how ethical is destroy a forest for lumber? or to pollute an entire ocean in our efforts to extract oil from 5 miles under the sea?
 

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After concerns were presented and after responsible fish keeping is understood (nitrogen cycle, stocking level,water changes, knowledge of species, etc)
Then what we do with our aquariums that fit our comfort zone is what is ethical. Some people feel that feeding monster fish itty bitty fish is cruel and unethical. There are just too many opinions. We all like to express the ones that are important to us, but at the end of the day... Whatever floats your boat.

I do quite a number of controversial things in the hobby and I feel pretty comfortable- but I wouldn't share it because everyone has different strong views that are legit and I am not out to change popular opinion but just enjoying my way and it works for me.
 

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I find it ethically wrong to repeat a situation that has already been proven not to work. I do not care if you call it an experiment or anything else.
Fish that have proven they have territorial, predatory, aggressive, or other social behaviors need to be kept in appropriate housing- the proper quantity of each species, the appropriate tank mates so that when they behave according to their nature they and their tank mates will be safe.

This includes housing territorial fish in a way that they can stake a claim to the right size space according to their nature, and not having competing fish confined with them in such a way that they cannot get out of each others' space.

This includes housing predator and prey separately so that the prey are not living in constant fear. When it is time to feed the predator death to the prey ought to come quickly, not linger on for weeks or months of dread because the predator is not hungry, yet.

This includes keeping social species in something like a reasonable group so that their natural behaviors have a chance to be seen. This is one of the joys of keeping a schooling species. Sure, a school of 2 dozen is much smaller than a river or lake could support, but a school of 2 dozen Tetras flowing over some driftwood or between plants, all acting as one, is one of the reasons for keeping a schooling species. They are happier that way, and I enjoy seeing them that way. If I only had a small tank, and wanted a schooling species, I would select a small fish that could be stocked in a reasonable number, or get a larger tank.

If the natural behavior of the species is to pair bond and defend their space, then I want to keep them in a tank that is close enough to the right size for their natural instinct to claim and not have another pair trying to live in the same space. If I want 2 such pairs in one tank, then the tank will be large enough, and the driftwood, rocks and plants will be laid out to help them define their territory. They will be monitored, and if it is not working, one pair will be removed. This is not an experiment. I will have done the research to find out the experiences of others, and will set up the situation in a way that has worked well for other fish keepers. I am not going to set up a situation that has already proven to be wrong, and not to work.
 

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I couldnt agree with @Diana more. It is common in the african cichlid world to overstock tanks to spread aggression. I never could bring myself to do so. I dont judge those who do but it isnt for me. I bought my 75g used with several cichlids, mostly africans but some new world. I within a few weeks had deaths due to aggression. I ended up with 2 more tanks so I could split them up and I still gave a few to the lfs. A lot of folks would have been ok with it but it just very unnatural in my mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
KIcked Off BettaForums

I'm now kicked off Bettafish.com. They have taken down my posts regarding Male Bettas together. Moderators are watching and deleting posts regarding my ethics of keeping betta fish. North Korea anyone? I'm glad planted tank doesn't screen and keep people off because they don't like what they say. Fish keeping is personal and I as others have experiences to add. People can learn from what I do. It is sad that a forum would delete my experiments and comments. So UnAmerican. Forums should be for sharing experiences. It's not like I'm a troll or nuisance. They just want things to be their way, not another person's way. Which in my mind, defeats the point of a forum. Well, Bettafish.com....enjoy 'your way or no way'. I'm definitely not going back to share my experiences, good or bad. I'm not a bad person, really! (Sorry for the rant. :})
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do quite a number of controversial things in the hobby and I feel pretty comfortable- but I wouldn't share it because everyone has different strong views that are legit and I am not out to change popular opinion but just enjoying my way and it works for me.
Got ya. Bottom line, keep quiet about what you do that is possibly controversial. Status quo sort of thing.
 

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I do very much agree with what Diana mentions. But at the same time I have also seen things done successfully (with fish not stressed) that are contrary to what people popularly believe.

I can reason with all sides of the coin.

My only gripe is that if taboo set ups are tried, the person should be extremely knowledgeable (have a good understanding of anything that can be a factor, such as water chemistry, environment set up, fish behavior, etc, etc) about what they are attempting and think it out thoroughly, factoring in every little thing (that can be beneficial, cause issues or go completely wrong), before going about the plans.

As another person mentioned, there has been tanks with cichlid aggression issues that were stopped by overstocking. A less common one people know about is there was a experiment done with the amount of caves and/or territories in relation to cichlid aggression. When there was no caves, fighting had stopped completely. I know better than to think just because something has worked at first/for the time being (even past resettling phase), doesn't mean that it will last forever. Many have seen how a single alpha/dominant male's (or female) can effect the whole tank/group of fish. And by removing the issue fish, and a new hierarchy is established will a more mellow "pack leader" aggression issues can change dramatically. So many variables at play.

I have a friend that had 4 male Betta splendens (not wilds) together and they never fought, or stressed each other at all, they were still full of color, healthy, lived a full long life, no diseases and were not in any distress whatsoever. I do observe fish behavior quite a lot and he really did keep them successfully together. Now I don't know if he only picked docile males or not. Point is, I do know it is possible. Though I can't say I'd recommend anyone doing so. Really advanced aquarist that do have a better understanding on all the factors at play may be able to do so.

My friend also told me about a guy in Germany who had 8 male Bettas together, and he too had full success with never any fighting or flaring, never a damaged fin, or any of the bettas being scared of each other. However I couldn't find any info online. Yeah I did just take his word for it as he has always been honest with me (this friend is a fish sales manager at my LFS, who even talked me out of buying some fish that I was interested in, on more than one occasion as well)

I have seen the threads about these male Bettas being housed together. I strongly feel/"know" it can be done successfully (when I say successfully, I mean just that, with no compromise to the fish's health). I have been seriously considering doing it myself (even my friend is wanting me to), but I've been losing interest in the hobby quite a lot (I'm already down to only 4 tanks running, planning on bringing that down to 2 within a couple weeks, and would have stopped completely if I didn't have spent so much money on plants and equipment). Just got a lot of things going on in life and I don't enjoy the tanks much anymore. Still kind of considering it, especially when I see really nice looking Bettas at the store, but have other plans for the tanks (planted dwarf breeder community and a Pinoy angel tank or a predator odd ball monster tank like I've been wanting).

Initial aggression issues may be present at first, but sometimes that's to be expected and may subside and no longer be an issue once things have been established. Sometimes, even with the best knowledge and precautions, nature does run it's course and there's no way around it. But with living things, conflicts can be settled and lessons learned (some same psychological experiences that can happen with humans, can happen with animals/fish). Yes there may be unsatisfactory issues at first, but if things can settle down and work themselves out, from that point on, doesn't mean the fish has to live in constant stress.

I even seen a large community of aggressive Arowanas housed together. They did have initial aggression, but that diminished as hierarchy was established.
I've just seen a lot of set ups and experiments that go against popular belief that turned out to be very successful. So I know things can be done, but it's depends if the person doing it can. Yeah there might be a little stress due to hierarchy, but I guess that's just "natural" for some cases.

Again I do get everyone's point. For pretty much every fish, keeping them in appropriate/recommended set ups, as Diana suggests, would be in the best interest of the fish. Then again when it comes to ethics, even our largest aquariums are sometimes no match for the water body sizes in nature that the fish occur in (depending on species of course). I guess these taboo set ups are more for keepers interest rather than actually putting the fish's well being as top importance.

So I personally don't have a problem with people trying taboo set ups out, as long as they have extremely well thought out plan. Otherwise if one attempts something with not much understanding, it would just end horribly with the fish suffering because of it.

But hey maybe taboo set ups like this can produce less aggressive/more community friendly fish (if bred of course). Breed the "Siamese fighting" right out of them :)
though there's easier ways to go about breeding more peaceful males

For success in any of these taboo set ups, there is so many variables that can effect the outcome. Just because one person, or even if everyone else fails, still doesn't always mean it's impossible. Knowledge is your strongest tool. There is still limitations though.
 

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The true goals of your project and the one you've mentioned on youTube, i.e. the one that gave you the idea for your project in the 1st place, remain unclear to me (and perhaps to others). Maintaining a peaceful 55g with several adult male Betta splendens is entirely possible, however they need to be siblings raised together since birth and never separated, not even for a few hours. The last to mature, especially, will show little to no aggression toward each other. A 55g can be a nice size grow out tank, particularly if we start removing the dominant, fastest growing males, and all females, at the 1 month mark. The latter being quite easily identified with the long-finned type being used in your project. Why not give that a try?
 
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I'm now kicked off Bettafish.com. They have taken down my posts regarding Male Bettas together. Moderators are watching and deleting posts regarding my ethics of keeping betta fish. North Korea anyone? I'm glad planted tank doesn't screen and keep people off because they don't like what they say. Fish keeping is personal and I as others have experiences to add. People can learn from what I do. It is sad that a forum would delete my experiments and comments. So UnAmerican. Forums should be for sharing experiences. It's not like I'm a troll or nuisance. They just want things to be their way, not another person's way. Which in my mind, defeats the point of a forum. Well, Bettafish.com....enjoy 'your way or no way'. I'm definitely not going back to share my experiences, good or bad. I'm not a bad person, really! (Sorry for the rant. :})
Bettafish.com seems like a site that attracts a lot of new betta keepers- who don't know basics of fish keeping and are ready to do anything in the hobby if they get enough people to give them green light. For the people running that site, they may view your experiment and potential supporters as a green light for many irresponsible/ignorant beginners to curiously follow with imminent disaster. They wouldn't want to be responsible for that. That is just my thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Bettafish.com seems like a site that attracts a lot of new betta keepers- who don't know basics of fish keeping and are ready to do anything in the hobby if they get enough people to give them green light. For the people running that site, they may view your experiment and potential supporters as a green light for many irresponsible/ignorant beginners to curiously follow with imminent disaster. They wouldn't want to be responsible for that. That is just my thoughts.
I think you are probably correct. My tanks are too controversial and I should just keep it all to myself, like one of the other posters said.
:crying:
 

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I think BettaFish.com is a place for people to go so they have information and resources for the best possible care of their bettas. And you have to admit, your experiment is not the best for the fish. You are doing just that, experimenting. Can this work? Will the fish fight and die? You already found that it can end in disaster. And like Fish Em mentioned, a lot of new and younger betta fish owners go there and may not be knowledgeable on betta care. If they see your post they may try the same and end up with a lot of hurt/dead fish.

I've already said on your other thread that I'm not a fan of what you are doing. I do not think male bettas should be housed together because it's just too risky. Can it be done? Sure. People have supposedly successfully kept them together... but I don't think the average fish keeper should do it. I've kept bettas for years, feel like I know them fairly well, and I still wouldn't want to risk it.

I know keeping fish and other animals in tanks/cages isn't ideal. No tank can compare to a real river or lake. But as their caregivers I think it is our responsibility to give them the best care we can under the circumstances. That includes a stress free environment - or as close to stress free as we can give. It's why we ask questions on what species go well together. What kind of plants/ornaments would be best in a certain tank. What's the best food to give. And so on. To me, a life is a life and I don't want the creatures I'm taking care of to live in an environment where they are constantly stressed and getting nipped/attacked.

Can I stop you or people that want to keep aggressive tanks? No. And my hope is that things turn out well for you and the fish. I get why you are doing what you're doing. It would be great to find a way to keep male bettas together. Hell, I'd love to keep a tank full of male bettas. They're my favorite fish. But I just don't think it's a likely scenario. There are too many variables. Ethically, I think it truly depends from person to person. Everyone has their own range on what's ethical or not. One person thinks feeding live fish to other fish is unethical while others don't. There isn't a black and white answer. Only shades of grey.
 

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What if everything you think you know is wrong? Perish the thought, most would say. I believe challenging dogma and satisfying curiosity is important for personal growth. By doing so, regardless of whether the results are positive or negative, important lessons can be learned. When sharing such experiences, however, you do need to be prepared for resistance from those not comfortable with challenging the status quo. (AKA, haters gonna hate)
 

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I believe ethics should play a larger role in the aquarium industry than it does today. There are definitely responsible, and irresponsible choices that are made. I'm not going to say its wrong to keep any species of fish as long as they have enough space (controversial topic, im aware) and a good quality of life (not under constant stress).
I believe the main issue with keeping fish is species dependent, and largely has to do with where and how the fish are harvested. Here are some examples:
When white cloud minnows (cheap fish found at any lfs) were first introduced to the hobby, there was massive wild populations. Today, there wild population has been decimated due to habitat loss and over harvesting. what you see in stores today are captive bred individuals. As they breed like crazy, this situation could have been easily avoided.

Another topic that EVERYBODY should be aware of is how South American species are harvested and the true benefits that come from it. If you didn't know, South America has a rainy season and a dry season. During the rainy season, forest floor and fish gain a lot more space, able to support a lot more individuals, and populations explode. Then The dry season comes, and these huge populations become trapped, and most die or get eaten. This is the time when local people are able to harvest the aquarium species that would be dead in a months time anyways. This harvest provides native people a source of income, enough to sustain whole villages/towns. Here's where it all ties together now; rain forests are actually preserved by buying South American species because areas where fish are being harvested by locals will not turn to lumber for profit. Keep fish from South America! (That aren't endangered).
Another issue people need to understand the adverse effects is the introduction of invasive species. Don't put exotic fish in any body of water that is not an aquarium. I maintain a 50,000 gal freshwater "Amazon" aquarium that is filled with almost exclusively wild caught exotics found in Miami alone. I have pacus that eat whole apples and red tailed catfish that could eat a cat.
Don't even get me started on saltwater. I could if someone wants me to.
I am an aquarist at zoo Miami, and have degrees in zoology and environmental conservation.
 

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What if everything you think you know is wrong? Perish the thought, most would say. I believe challenging dogma and satisfying curiosity is important for personal growth. By doing so, regardless of whether the results are positive or negative, important lessons can be learned. When sharing such experiences, however, you do need to be prepared for resistance from those not comfortable with challenging the status quo. (AKA, haters gonna hate)
What you say is true until you realize your not experimenting with chemicals or metals your using a living creature that wants no part of your trip.Experimentation with animals has been going on for ages and has done some wonderful things for mankind but when experimentation is for the enjoyment or ego humping than the line should be drawn.
 

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Being devil's advocate, why draw the line at bettas, why not tanks of all male guppies or other livebearers..?

You could take that further to any species of fish. Nothing more than a fancy glass jail we keep them in if you want to look at it that way. We provide what we think is necessary but until one of my fish speak up and say whether or not they're happy I guess we'll never know! I can continue arguing with myself here though and talk about the good things the hobby has done.....species that were "saved" and/or are no longer available in the wild but are prolific in the hobby.

Bottom line is we all do this for our enjoyment; not the fishes' enjoyment. That in itself could be considered unethical by some I suppose. But so long as you're not taking your fish out and leaving them on the floor to watch them suffer I think almost everyone involved in this hobby could say they are at least trying to treat their pets well and are therefore being ethical at least by their own standards.

Then there is also the debate on whether people are doing things unethically or if they are simply not well enough informed/educated on the topic. Is it unethical to do something if you had no idea it was "wrong" to begin with? I dont think so unless you had a nefarious goal in mind to begin with. What about those people who get bad advice from a pet shop employee. Does it make them any less ethical to take the "expert's" advice?

My view on this is that if you even have to question whether or not any little part of this hobby is ethical, then you probably shouldn't be involved in this at all. I dont think there are too many people out there doing things (in any aspect of life) that they believe are unethical.
 
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I think the most unethical part of this hobby lies with suppliers. People who pass themselves off as experts, but don't actually have, and want to put the time into acquiring, the necessary knowledge. Or worse say whatever they think will get them a sale, without regard for what's right.
 
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