With spring just around the corner, June brides everywhere are finalizing the details of their weddings from flowers to cakes, music, vows and centerpieces. The trend to use live fish, Bettas in particular, became popular more than a decade ago. With newly engaged brides popping up every day, this is a trend, I’m sorry to say, that hasn’t died yet. Just yesterday I ran into a woman who was eager to learn the best way to pull off betta fish centerpieces.
Please let me be very clear here… Live animals do not make good centerpieces. I’m not saying this because I stand on some Animal Rights soapbox (though there is a valid argument there too). There are very practical reasons for skipping the fishy-furnishings.
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
This is a big day for you… the bride (I presume). Of course, every detail should be in order… but what will happen to your betta fish after the music has stopped. Literally, from that minute on, what are you going to do? You may have assumed your guests wanted those cute little fish they earned playing the dollar game but in reality they are sneaking out the back door hoping you won’t see them run to their cars without the new responsibility. Your guests do not want these fish. They cost time and money and require a lot of work.
I guarantee you 80% of the guests you thought would want that fish will be coming up with a whole host of excuses why they just can’t take it home with them. It’ll be midnight and you’ll have 12+ bettas, in water, with no way home. Half will be stressed half to death due to the temperatures swings, pounding music, and cocktail mixture your little cousin thought would be funny to add to the betta bowl. You’ll spend your goodbyes pleading with people to take fish home and the rest will become the burden of your family for the night. The next day they’ll be back in your care and instead of spending your first day of marital bliss snuggling with your hubby, you’ll be agonizing over the best antibiotic to buy for the 9 sick bettas you have at home.
One Day We’ll Have a Family
For a little fish, bettas have a substantial life span. These fish live on average 3 – 5 years. Where are you going to be in 3 – 5 years? Better give it some thought, since you’ll have a dozen betta fish there with you that might still be alive when your first child enters kindergarten.
Invest in Your Future
Despite popular myth, betta fish actually do have requirements beyond being plopped into a fish bowl. Fish (yes, even bettas) are very sensitive to their environments. They need clean, preferably filtered water, heated to a comfortable 78 F. (25.5 C.) They should have light, a varied diet, and an aquarium large enough to explore. They will require at least weekly water changes and regular water testing with an aquarium water test kit. They need daily monitoring and treatment when they are sick. One male betta typically requires a 2.5 – 5 gallon, filtered aquarium. The investment in time and money isn’t outrageous, but you should understand that it will be necessary to humanely care for the fish. If you are expecting your guests to take these fish home, you are asking them to take on this responsibility.
I assume the brides who want bettas as centerpieces do so because they are animal lovers and enjoy fish already. I believe their intent is good. The problem is not giving the decision the thought it deserves. A lot of issues arise when selecting fish as centerpieces. Chances are, one or more of these fish will not survive your wedding. It is extremely stressful for them and accidents happen, even among the most subdued crowds. Please think it through before you select betta fish as centerpieces.