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Safe to add food coloring to betta's water?
July 28, 2011 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I am wondering if there is any risk to a betta fish at all of adding some food coloring to his water? We have been pulling minor pranks on a coworker and many on Fridays have revolved around a fish and I am thinking adding a couple of drops to make a light tinge to the water would be good if it posed no risk to the fish. Everything I've googled looks like it is fine, but really trying to cover my bases in advance.
posted by ewiley28 to Pets & Animals (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The risk is that the coworker might hastily remove the fish while he cleans the tank and risk injuring it or otherwise shortening its life from the stress.

This is a horrible prank. Tape his drawers shut or something else that doesn't involve manipulating helpless creatures.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:30 PM on July 28, 2011 [18 favorites]


put a fake dookie in the tank!
posted by ian1977 at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2011


Safe or not, it's over the line.
posted by The World Famous at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Betta fish, or at least mine, sometimes up and die. Now whether or not this food coloring actually harmed that little fish, wouldn't be awful if you did and he DIED
posted by stormygrey at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Get an exactly identical container and buy a different colored betta fish to put in it. When coworker isn't around, hide his/her container and replace with the new one. Store original bettafish somewhere safely nearby, out of sight. It will appear that the fish has just spontaneously changed color.

After the prank's over, someone maybe you!) gets a free betta fish.
posted by hermitosis at 12:40 PM on July 28, 2011 [37 favorites]


Fish are actually really, very sensitive to water conditions. Most pet fish are, unfortunately, in a chronic state of sickness or shock from their conditions, just because nearly everyone but dedicated aquarists (avid aquarium hobbyists) doesn't educate themselves on how to keep them properly. And people don't anthropomorphize them as much as mammals, so they're "just fish".

I don't know how sensitive they are to dyes, but you can bet it's worse for them than their normal water balance.

Ask yourself this: would you dye a friend's cat or dog for a prank? No? Well, a fish is a pet too.
posted by gilrain at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


Some aquarium medicines are brightly coloured. Though because betta fish can breath through a labyrinth to take oxygen from the air you have to watch for things that might form a film on the surface and suffocate the fish.
posted by wwax at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2011


Please don't do this. If you're desperate to tinge the water, call an aquarium store and ask them about colored light bulbs for aquariums and whether they would be safe for bettas.

If you accidentally kill the fish, you will be downgraded n your workplace from "harmless prankster" to "clueless asshole."

The fish does not deserve this.
posted by corey flood at 12:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you accidentally kill the fish, you will be downgraded n your workplace from "harmless prankster" to "clueless asshole."

Seconded. The line between harmless prankster and clueless asshole is so microscopically fine that you shouldn't get anywhere near it.
posted by The World Famous at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seconding what Stormygrey said (and on preview, a few others). It prrrrooooobably won't kill the fish, but in the unlikely event that due to a combination of shock of water being changed too hastily (if the owner is freaked out), or just simple coincidence, if it did die, I'm assuming you/the owner would be pretty upset...

I would heartily suggest restraint when pulling pranks with living things unable to communicate willing participation.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:47 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fish is not your coworker, and will not appreciate the prank.
posted by swift at 12:49 PM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm going with no, too easy to change the water chemicals...
posted by ewiley28 at 12:51 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I'm the one who changes the fish's water, so this is how I could have pulled this off). We actually bought the fish as one of the pranks, but yes, multiple of us are now attached to it, so doing something that could kill him off doesn't make me happy.

The only reason I was really thinking about it is the concept of Fish Fridays amused me.

BTW, I like the idea of taping drawers shut!
posted by ewiley28 at 12:53 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, for Fish Fridays you could get a bunch of super-cheap plastic fish and just hide them all over the office, with zero explanation. If you hide them well enough, people will be finding them for months. Fish stickers will also work. A bait shop might have cheap lures.

Low effort, fish-safe, reasonably annoying!
posted by corey flood at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreeing with the "Don't do this" sentiments. Living things are not prank props.
posted by aught at 1:06 PM on July 28, 2011


Relocating him could also work and leaving a fake fish in the tank... Similar to the suggested idea of buying a different colored one, but doesn't leave a second fish to be cared for.
posted by ewiley28 at 1:10 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do what Hermitosis suggests...only do it with an empty bowl. Or with a foam expanding dinosaur.

and if you want a creative one, wire-tie the cord on their phone at the base of the phone and the base of the handset, so it looks like everything's fine but when the phone rings they yank the entire thing towards themselves answering it. I think I got that one from MetaFilter back in the day, actually....
posted by davejay at 1:16 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Betta fish kept in small bowls are generally stressed to begin with, and something like food coloring might just push the fish over the edge. I vote for a giant fish pinata filled with fish trinkets. Or you could wrap the entire work area in fish netting! Or fill up the cube with inflatable fish beach balls! If you browse the link above you may get other ideas for fish pranks.
posted by Ostara at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Leave the fish alone.

Instead, do what I did to my co-worker: tape fishing line to various item on his/her desk. Tie fishing line to base of the desk chair. When he/she pulls out the chair or sits in it, all the items will come flying off the desk.

Or, alternately, fill his/her desk drawers with packing peanuts. Two days running. The second day was somehow even funnier.
posted by Specklet at 1:52 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once pranked someone by covering their office cube in about 100 origami cranes -- perched on shelves; hiding in drawers; tacked to the bulletin board; taped the the computer monitor; hanging (on string) from the ceiling.

You could do also this with origami fish. Sure, it's more effort that a few drops of food dye. But I guarantee an origami bomb is hella impressive. (And paper is recyclable!)
posted by BlueJae at 1:58 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmmm, for Fish Fridays you could get a bunch of super-cheap plastic fish and just hide them all over the office, with zero explanation. If you hide them well enough, people will be finding them for months. Fish stickers will also work. A bait shop might have cheap lures.

Not that you've indicated that you would do this, but just in case: please don't. Don't do anything that would spread your Fish Friday pranks beyond just you and your friend. I ask this on behalf of anybody in your office who, like me, might be intensely fish-phobic* to the extent that finding even fake fish in unexpected places would seriously wreck their day and any hope they might have had of maintaining any dignity.

*There are dozens of us. DOZENS!
posted by DingoMutt at 2:41 PM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


DON'T. DO. IT.
posted by sandyp at 2:49 PM on July 28, 2011


Relocate the fish and replace with a duplicate tank with a plastic shark in the water?
Bonus points if you play the Jaws theme upon discovery!
posted by lioness at 4:51 PM on July 29, 2011


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