Yesterday I brought home a Blue Betta Fish. One minute he was hanging in a tiny packet in a shop, amongst a jungle of other packets, barely able to move, and the next he was in his new 5 gallon tank.
For the first few minutes, he kept perfectly still, as if he were still in that tiny packet where he could barely turn around. And then the aquarium was lit up by flashes of cerulean, aquamarine, cobalt, topaz, plum as he darted about, his long fins trailing him, making him look much bigger than he really is.
I am not sure what to think of myself. An year ago I would have not bought a Betta, thought of it as animal cruelty. The male of the species is very territorial and would fight unto death another of its kind. They come from the rice fields of Thailand, where I suppose they are used to big tracts of shallow water. That is why vendors keep them in tiny bottles, (because you can’t keep two in the same container) putting black paper between two, so they don’t get agitated. This seemed to me cruel and unusual punishment.
Then one day a few months ago I bought one because my better half thought a brown and purple Betta pretty. It jumped out and died when I went out of town for a while. I told myself this was a sign. I would not get another.
And then, yesterday, I just had to get one. From a shop where they were hanging in packets, in less than 100 ml of water each.
I’m feeling guilty now, having bought one fish, helped promote the shop.
I’m consoling myself from time to time. At least this Betta has a good home, not one of those 10 cm cube plastic boxes with fake plants that some people keep them in.
My conscience won’t shut up. But when I look at the blue vision my Betta fish makes as I walk past him in the living room, I feel I can live with the righteous noise in my head.