Simply because a product is available for sale, that does not mean that it is appropriate or safe. While dangerous products are often recalled, many more continue to be sold to unsuspecting consumers in all different markets.


Examples include:


Responsible consumers should be alive to the possibility that just because it is for sale, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is safe, and should investigate what they are purchasing.


This applies to aquarium products as well! Below is a list of products that have been tried and proven to be inappropriate, ineffective, or just plain dangerous. Also, we will provide you with alternatives that DO work.

Vacation Feeder Blocks

Who will feed your fish when you're on vacation? While it is important that your pet's needs are met while you are away, these blocks are NOT the answer.

  • For a single betta, even a small, "weekend" feeder block is a grossly excessive amount of food - enough to feed the fish for 3 months or more
  • Recall that once added to the tank, fish food begins to decay, adding to dangerous ammonia levels in the tank
  • Consider then the effect of adding a chunk of food the size of a grape to the water all at once!
    • Despite being marketed as "slow release", these blocks still decay quickly enough to play havoc with ammonia levels

This is a recipe for disaster because:

  1. This will quickly send ammonia levels SOARING in your tank, overwhelming any filtration in place; and
  2. You, the fishkeeper, are away and unable to perform emergency water changes and help your fish!

How long will you be away for?

4 DAYS or less
  • Simply do not feed the fish
    • They will be fine without food for this amount of time, and if they are not being fed, they will produce less ammonia than they normally would
5 DAYS or more
  • Have a friend come over to feed the fish; OR
  • Purchase an automatic feeder
    • While automatic feeders are a bit more expensive (approx. $25.00 CAD), they are an important investment in the health of your fish
    • If this cost seems prohibitive, consider:
      • many automatic feeders come with a supply of everyday fish food (a $5.00 savings from buying separately); and
      • The cost of replacing your fish, as vacation blocks can create a lethal situation

pH Adjusters

Again, this is a product that fishkeepers may use with the best intentions - to give their tank the "perfect" pH for their fish - but the costs of using these products can far outweigh the benefits for your fish.


The main problem with pH adjusters (any product that is used to alter the natural pH of your water) is summed up by our RULE TO LIVE BY. The parameters of your fish's water must never be changed suddenly - to do so will shock your fish and can easily kill them. Most pH adjusters boast about how quickly they work. This is actually the last thing you want when you have fish in your tank!


But what about when you have no fish in the tank yet, and you're just getting it ready for them? The same problem still exists - in order to alter the pH of your water, you have to do battle with the water's natural chemistry, specifically it's resistance to changes in pH (known as the KH, "alkalinity" or "buffering capacity" of the water - please see our page on WATER CHEMISTRY for an in-depth description) Overwhelming the water's buffering capacity can also interfere with the stability of the water's pH at any level, even the one that you are trying to adjust it to. 


The bottom line is that using these products can become a constant battle with pH swinging in all directions and fish suffering or dying as a result.




Since interfering with your water's natural pH can be so disastrous, it is best to discover the pH of your tap water, and then find out what fish are suited to it. If you would like to keep a specific kind of fish, research them in advance, and specifically look into the water pH that suits them best.

  • In your research, you will likely notice that most fish can thrive at a wide range of pH levels.
  • Most tap water will have a pH between 6.0-8.0, which should be fine for most fish, bettas included


Remember that fish can even adjust to pH values that are outside of their ideal range. The most important thing is that the pH remains stable. 




While most fish are quite versatile, some are very sensitive and require very specific water conditions. The pH of your tap water can fluctuate on it's own, dependant on various seasonal conditions, water level in reservoirs, etc.


Factors such as this are entirely out of our control, and could hard very sensitive fish as a result. 

Betta "Bowls" with no filtration/heating - of course!

This website was inspired by the inappropriateness of these "kits". For a review of why these are unacceptable, see our pages:


If you already have a betta fish living in a bowl or vase, consider adding a filter and a heater to this set-up. Doing this alone will take your betta's environment from dangerously unsuitable to safe and healthy for your fish.


Visit our OVERWHELMED? section to assess the current problems facing your betta's home.


If you don't own a betta yet, please visit our NECESSARY SUPPLIES page for a list of equipment and accessories for a happy, healthy betta.

  • If the cost of a new tank, filter and heater for your fish seems prohibitive compared to these tiny bowls, consider buying a used tank from your local Craigslist, Kijiji or UsedEverywhere site.
    • At least half of the equipment that I have purchased for my fish has been secondhand, and I've had good luck with quality and condition of it.