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Robyn's AquaBabies Boycott Page

Last Updated: 4/18/12

Note that all of the information on this web site is my opinion. You are entitled to your own views. I have been researching dozens of species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and other animals for the last dozen years or so. Aside from goldfish, I have only kept other fish for about nine years (as of 2002) so I am by no means an expert although while in high school and college I was often called a genius. I know a lot about freshwater fish (see my massive fish page). There is much I do not know. One thing I do know: AquaBabies are cruel. I urge you to visit the official AquaBabies Boycott site below as well as the AquaBabies site. At their site, you will find photos of their death traps as well as lots of false or misleading information. Any intermediate or advanced aquarist with half a brain will verify this. The Boycott site is set up with a petition for you to sign to voice your opinion.

AquaBabies Web Site

AquaBabies Boycott Web Site - As of late 2002, this site no longer exists. I do not know why. It now goes someplace else so I removed the link. I did run across the petition that was run from this site, and it was still working (2002). Click here to go to the petition on AquaBabies.

Another site on boycotting AquaBabies could be found here but is now gone (not even in the internet archives!).

What are AquaBabies?
What is Wrong with AquaBabies?
False and Misleading Statements on the AquaBaby Web Site
What to Do to Stop AquaBabies
How to Properly Care for the Animals Contained in AquaBabies
Other Cruel Fish "Homes"

Poll of AquaBaby Owners - if you have an AquaBaby, go to this separate page to fill out the AquaBabies Poll; others can go to see what owners say about their AquaBabies.

This page is plagiarized word for word (an older version, actually I found they left a " off) at http://www.angelfire.com/tx3/orion101/boycott.html.

What are AquaBabies?


1 4 inch acrylic "tank"
2 to 4 fish fry picked from the following species (may change): zebra danios, albino zebra danios, white cloud mountain minnows, common guppies, swordtails, rosy barbs, maybe other barbs, rosy red minnows (I also saw bloodfin tetras inside some of them); goldfish and other fish were added to larger AquaBabies marketed later
0 to 1 African clawed frog or African dwarf frog
0 to 1 snail (looked like Black Japanese Trapdoor snails in the ones that I saw)
0 to 1 fiddler crab
1 small live plant
1 handful of small rocks
2 cups or so of water of unknown origin

Cost: The ones that I saw were $19.90! Total worth of the above is $2.00 to $5.00 (if there is a frog).

Now, there are some new, "larger" (~7" x ~5") AquaBaies that either contain more fish or a male betta with some snails.

What is Wrong with AquaBabies?

1. Here are some maximum lengths of the above animals reached within one to two years in most cases. These are NOT based on literature or word of mouth. These are based on MY animals (except for bloodfin tetras, dwarf frogs, and bettas which I have never had).

Zebra danio: 1 to 1.5 inches, may live 5-10 years at least
White cloud mountain minnows: 1 to 1.5 inches, may live 5-10 years at least
Guppies: 1 (male) to 2.5 inches (female), live up to about 5 years old (2-3 years most common)
Rosy red minnows: 2 (female) to 4 inches (male), live 2 to 4 years
Bloodfin tetra: 1 to 1.5 inches
Rosy barb: 2 to 4 inches, 7 years (one aquarist had one 7 years old anyway)
Japanese trapdoor snails: 1 to 2 inches circumference
African clawed frogs: 5 inches (according to the HerpIndex and Frogland)
African dwarf frogs: 1.5 inches (according to Frogland)
Betta (Siamese fighting fish, male, in "larger" box): 2.5 to 3.5 inches
Goldfish: 12-14 inches (common variety)

Size of box: 4 inches

Sounds like a tight fit!! Does not sound like they will do doing much swimming if they live to adulthood.

2. There is no aeration in the AquaBabies cell. With the possible exception of labyrinth fish and some catfish that can gasp gaseous air, all fish need decent levels of dissolved oxygen and other essential gases in their water. Aeration via air pumps and air stones or splashing (from filters, waterfalls, etc.) creates the necessary balance of gases in water. Water with large surface areas also are aerated by wind and rai. n 16 square inches of surface water, there really is no opportunity for proper air exchange, especially with most of the top covered. The fish and plants (at night) use oxygen in the water and the fish and plants (at night) give off carbon dioxide. For a balance to be achieved, aeration is necessary. During the day, the plant spring (if it survives) will use carbon dioxide and give off some oxygen which alleviates this stress during the day.

3. There is no filtration in the AquaBabies cube. There are three types of filtration: biological, mechanical, and chemical. While mechanical filtration is nice because it removes unsightly debris and allows the removal of such debris before it contributes to the nitrogen cycle, a tank can survive without it. Chemical filtration also allows the water to be more clear and with fewer pollutants but again is not absolutely neeed. The only one that fish MUST have unless you change half of the water daily, is biological filtration. This is also called the nitrogen cycle. This is where the animals' wastes are converted from toxic ammonia or less toxic ammonium to less toxic nitrite and even less toxic nitrate. Nitrate can be further converted to nitrogen gas and driven off my aeration or utilized by plants as food. A host of bacteria perform these duties. Besides needing the ammonia (from fish poop and leftover fish food and dead animals and plant material), these nitrifying bacteria also must have high levels of dissolved oxygen and a place to grow. This goes back to Number 2 above. There is no aeration or filtration in AquaBabies so that animals cannot survive for long in them. While rocks are included in the cells for bacteria to grow on, without adequate levels of oxygen, the bacteria will not grow. To learn all about the nitrogen cycle, go to my water chemistry page. To learn more about the types of filtration and filters, go to my fish care page.

4. Temperature fluctuations can cause a problem in so little water. Since there is less than half a gallon of water, no heater, and no chiller, the AquaBabies are subject to whatever the ambient temperature might be. The animals (with the exception of the frog which is tropical) in these cubes are able to survive between about 60 and 80 degrees F. Some, like the rosy red minnows, can survive down to freezing, but others, like the rosy barb, will start to die in the 50's. Above 80 degrees, these cooler water animals will also start to die from heat stress and reduced dissolved oxygen levels. So little water will change temperature in just a few minutes. If the cup were moved from say a 90 degree F room to a 50 degree F room (or outside to inside, etc.), the water would change from 90 to 50 degrees in just a few minutes. Animals can die from temperature change shock.

5. This lack of stability also holds for water chemistry. Since there is so little water, pH and other chemical fluctuations are much more likely. Again, this stress can kill.

6. All of the fish that may be found in AquBabies are schooling or shoaling fish. A solitary schooling fish will be too scared to exhibit normal behavior. Solitary shoaling fish are known to sulk and refuse to eat. They starve to death. Most schooling fish kept as individuals will just "lay there" and exhibit moments of panic behavior where they will dash all through the water trying to escape. Adult females kept in solitary may become egg-bound and die from this condition.

7. Other miscellaneous problems with AquaBabies include difficulty in cleaning and changing such a small system, fishônot having room to exercise, stunted or deformed fish and frogs, inability of the fish to experience their normal breeding behaviors if they reach adulthood, highô propensity for owners to neglect or even forget about them (due to their inconspicuousness and supposed low need for maintenance), and more. 8. All of this can only serve to teach children and novice aquarists that this treatment of fish, snails, and frogs is acceptable, and that these animals only live a very short time. "Look, ma! Another dead fish! He lived a whole month this time! He must have died of old age!"

9. Duncan reports than some AquaBabies contain fiddler crabs. These crabs require brackish water (salt added), access to air to breathe and move around on land, and burrows in which to live. They have specialized needs that most aquarists cannt povide with 20 gallon tanks so a tiny cube of water is completely inappropriate.

My conclusion: They should be called AquaVictims and after a few days or weeks, AquaCorpses.

False and Misleading Statements on the AquaBaby Web Site

1. "Water changes are seldom necessary. (3-4 times a year)"
2. "Use only bottled water."
3. "The tank only needs to be cleaned when the water becomes cloudy and/or there is debris covering the rocks, plants or tank."
4. "Use only bottled spring water at room temperature for your aquarium."
5. "Feed the fish only a small pinch of food once daily or every other day through the hole in the top using the tip of a toothpick."
6. "Your fish need very little food to sustain them."
7. "They can be fed daily or every other day and can easily be left for a weekend without food."
8. "Most of the fish we use have a one to two-year life span and will not get any larger than 1-4" long."
9. "Your fish will probably live longer under your care than in the wild where there are diseases and predators."
10. "Fish do not get lonely and one or two fish are fine in your little tank."
11. "Frogs need more feed than fish, if your frog seems to be getting smaller, increase the number of pellets."

Sentence by sentence, here are the reasons that this is dead wrong:

1. Water changes are very important and should be done every 1-4 weeks depending on tank size. With less than a gallon of water, water changes should be done at 30-50% every 1 to 3 DAYS.

2. Using bottled water to replace aquarium water is not a good idea. First, it is very expensive (I guess not if you only change some water 3 to 4 times a year!). Second, most bottled water actually has higher levels of things like heavy metals than common tap water. Well water is usually fine. City water should have dechlorinator mixed with it first. I am an analytical chemist and personally tested well water versus city water versus bottled water in 1997. The tap water at my work contained 100 times the lead and other minerals than my well water. The bottled water tested (Perrier and some other common ones) contained again 100 times more lead than the city tap water.

3. The water does not only need to be cleaned when the water is cloudy or there is debris. That means the system is crashing with high bacterial and fungal loads. It is usually too late by then. Such a small system as AquaBabies would most likely be covered in debris in a week or two, certainly not every 4 months! A well-maintained aquarium should NEVER go cloudy and will always have some debris on the rocks and other surfaces but not in excess.

4. In case you forgot, they remind you to use bottled water and say it should be room temperature. Really, I was going to boil it first!

5. What is a pinch? Why use a toothpick? Fish food sticks to a toothpick. I guess the lid is hard to get off. After all, if you are only changing the water every 3 to 4 months, why would you need to open it up. Fish should be fed as much as they will eat in a few minutes, a few times a day. That varies depending on the species and sizes of the fish being kept..

6. Huh? The fish need what they need. It may not be much but it is all relative to how big they are, how many there are, and what species they are.

7. Adult fish of these species could probably do fine being fed every day or two and skipping weekends (I guess so you can have them on your desk at work). But, these are babies, aren't they? The AquaBabies that I saw contained fry of about 2 to 4 months of age. At that age, they should be receiving mostly live foods like newborn brine shrimp and shredded black worms as well as being started on fish food flakes and freeze dried crustaceans and insects. Plus, they should be eating as much as they need (but no more) two to four times per day. Fry have high metabolisms and must eat a little bit of food often. They may survive being fed every two days by eating the rotten, excess food off of the bottom of the prison cell. It is precisely this rotting food that has killed off many of my fry (fungi and/or bacteria grow in it) and others as well which is why it is hard to raise fry without multiple feedings and daily vacuuming of the bottom of the tank. The AquaBabies with snails at least should not have this problem since the snail should eat the extra food and grow (too big that is).

8. Hey, they got something right! Most of these fish will stay under 4 inches. Huh? The chamber is only 4 inches! How will they ever fit? Alas, the rest of the sentence is ridiculous. While guppies and rosy red minnows only live about two years (I have had older ones though including one going on 4 years), all the rest of the fish contained in AquaBabies live at least 5 to 10 years. My oldest zebra danio is about six years old, and my oldest white cloud mountain minnow is near eight years old. I guess if you believe that the fish only is supposed to live a year, then you are not as disappointed when it dies too soon and can go buy another AquaBaby.

9. What care? You said not to do hardly anything! There are few water changes, no filtration, no cleaning the substrate, etc. Most fry in the wild are eaten so they do not live as long as AquaBabies; that is true. Nonetheless, these fish typically live at least two years in the wild if they escape predation. But, percentage-wise, many more fish in captivity die from diseases than in the wild. In the wild, natural processes keep diseases under control in large bodies of water in most cases. In less than a gallon of water, if a disease is present, it will wipe out all the fish shortly. Guess what? Some of the most disease-prone fish (due to mass production in overcrowded conditions, not due to any fault of the fish) are those being sold in AquaBabies. They chose those fish pure and simply because they are mass-produced, relatively small, and very cheap.

10. Who says fish do not get lonely? Did your fish tell you that? There is no proof that they do not get lonely. I have seen fish kept in solitary rejoin their own species. The increase in the fish's activity, feeding habits, and general mood is almost instant. Goldfish, for example, kept alone are known to sulk from lack of stimulation. Another big issue with this statement is that every single one of the fish sold with AquaBabies are schooling or shoaling fish. That means that they need each other's company to thrive. A solitary schooling fish will be too scared to exhibit normal behavior. Solitary white cloud mountain minnows are known to sulk and refuse to eat. They starve to death. Most schooling fish kept as individuals will sulk and exhibit moments of panic behavior where they will dash all through the water trying to escape. This flight behavior has led to many fish jumping to their death in tanks without lids. Adult females kept in solitary may become egg-bound and die from this condition. But, credit to the author in saying that it is a "little tank." It could not be much more little!

11. The bad grammar aside, this is stupid. Most small animals eat the same amount of food PER weight. Since the frog will probably be larger than the fish, naturally it will eat more. If your frog is getting smaller, I would not feed it more; I would remove it since it would either be dead or dying. Animals only get smaller if they are metamorphosing (like tadpole to frog, they can shrink), not eating enough, and/or are dying.

What to Do to Stop AquaBabies

Visit the AquaBabies Boycott Web Site (this site was changed to another type of page so I removed the link) and sign their petition. As of late 2002, a few people have pointed out that this site no longer exists. I do not know what has happened nor how to contact their webmaster. If you have information, please let me know. I did run across the petition that was run from this site, and it is still working. Click here to go to the petition on AquaBabies.

Visit the AquaBabies Web Site and let them know what you think.

Urge any store or chain of stores that carries them to stop selling them.

Do no buy AquaBabies, even to free the prisoners (I was VERY tempted) as this money just lines their pockets.

If you own an AquaBaby or know someone who does, remove the surviving animals and plants to a suitable aquarium setup. The animals will be elated.

How to Properly Care for the Animals Contained in AquaBabies

These are links to my pages with a lot of information on the following fish. Later, I will add links to the other species of animals that I do not cover. I love and breed longfin zebra danios, white cloud mountain minnows, and rosy red minnows (and fathead minnows) so they are my favorite fish. I do not cull (the nice word for kill) or sell any of my fish or their offspring. Their numbers stay low by natural predation from the other animals.

Fish I Have Had:
Zebra Danios and related danios
White Cloud Mountain Minnows
Rosy Barbs
Rosy Red Minnows

Look These Fish Up in Fish Books and on the Internet:
Bloodfin Tetras (other tetras may also be used)

African Dwarf Frogs and African Clawed Frogs - it is unclear which of these species is in the AquaBabies

Other Cruel Fish "Homes"

There are at least four other products similar to AquaBabies in that they are simply too small for any fish to survive in for more than a short time.

1. One is a cheap, plastic, non-working "blender" that is supposed to be for goldfish. It holds only a few cups of water so would be inadequate for any fish except maybe a betta. Not only that but it promotes violence against animals by teaching people that it is good to blend live fish. It perpetuates the myth that goldfish should be raised in bowls. My goldfish are a foot long while the "blender" is only about 5 inches across! Spencer Gifts sells it.

2. Another is Palm Aquariums. These only come with the aquarium at least so that is good. They come in many designs and various small sizes (all I have seen are a few cups or less). While I will admit they look neat and are cute and would look nice on my desk, they are totally inadequate for any fish. The photos of bettas in the Palm Aquariums clearly show that they take up the entire "aquarium!" These "aquariums" are showing up in all of my fish catalogs that I use. They cost as much as a 10-30 gallon glass tank depending on the model but hold less than a gallon!

3. An additional product is something called the "Do-little aquarium." A fish store manager told me about these that he calls "nothing but a glorified AquaBaby." They are tiny containers that they say are complete ecosystems that require little care. It is ridiculous. The following two web sites sell them: www.biosand.com and www.natures-trail.com.

4. A final product is very popular and not considered as "bad" as the others but it should be. Vases are sold with small fish, usually the betta. For some reason, people think bettas should be in small containers which is ridiculous. Yes, they can utilize oxygen in the air so they do not suffocate in stagnant water but they do need clean and warm (preferably at least 75 degrees F which is warmer than most homes in winter) water and room to swim. If the vase has a small opening and/or is stuffed with a plant, the betta cannot get to the surface to gasp air with its labyrinth organ. To keep a vase clean, it would need almost daily water changes. And bettas do need to eat and cannot live off of plants or even the microorganisms that might develop there. If the vase is loaded with algae and bacteria, he might live for a while but what kind of life is that? Bettas need animal-based foods. See my page on bettas for more information on their care.

5. I also want to mention fish "painting." Most stores that sell fish still sell painted glassfish and other painted fish. The fish are injected with carcinogenic dyes to make them appear fluorescent green, yellow, red, orange, and blue. If you see fish with multiple bright colors in just certain parts of their bodies, they could be dyed. Fish injected with these dyes almost always develop the parasite ich and die within a very short time. If they survive, after a while, the color will leave their bodies. Many buyers thus feel they were ripped off. There is a petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/fishtank/ asking fish dealers to stop the cruel practice of injecting fish with dyes. An all natural fish is much more beautiful and healthy! Here is a good web site on dyeing fish: Deathbydyeing.org. They also tatoo fish.

Go to the AquaBabies Poll to see what owners say about their AquaBabies and to include your input if you have one too.

I have a guestbook which you can sign or view at the bottom of my homepage. Comments regarding AquaBabies are best made at the official boycott site or their site which can be linked at the top of this page.

At the bottom of this page is the Animal Rights Web Ring. Fish, frogs, snails, and other aquatic animals deserve to live long, happy, and healthy lives with good food, room to move, clean water, and nice friends.

Pet Link Banner Exchange:

Go to the main AquaBabies page.
Go to the AquaBabies poll page.
Go to the AquaBabies master index.

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