Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.
Betta Fish in Small Tanks
If you are thinking of getting a betta fish I hope you are also putting a little thought into what kind of tank is right for him. I have several articles that discuss the best tank size and setup for bettas, and my unambiguous and unwavering advice is to choose a tank of at least five gallons for a single fish. If you expect to have tankmates for your Betta, you will need an even larger tank.
Betta fish are tropical fish that need swimming space and proper water conditions just like any other fish. They must have clean, filtered water that maintains a consistent temperature of 75-80 degrees. They need a hiding spot so they can feel secure when they need to, and they need a lazy current that doesn’t push them around the tank.
Even though I think I'm pretty clear about it, I still often get questions that read something like this:
A few weeks ago I got a new betta fish and named him Megalodon. I put him in a one-gallon tank with a fake plant and some pink gravel. He seemed fine at first, but now his face is white, his fins are deteriorating and he is acting strange. Please help. I don’t want Megalodon to die!
Comments like these are as frustrating as they are heartbreaking. I have lost enough fish over the years to know how much it hurts when you try to do the right thing but your fish dies anyway.
On the other hand, it’s odd that folks leave these comments on my articles where I clearly explain the best tank conditions for a betta. Presumably, they read the article, yet they still seem stumped as to why their betta is at Death’s door.
The solution is usually simple: Get your betta into a better living situation ASAP!
The industry is partly to blame. Betta fish are churned out in huge numbers and marketed as disposable pets you can keep in a plant vase or a tiny cube on your office desk. In my mind, this is both inhumane and unethical but sometimes people don’t receive or understand the message until it’s too late.
But, instead of complaining about questionable marketing ploys and the poor reading comprehension skills of some humans, I intend to spend the rest of this article explaining why betta fish need to be in tanks larger than one gallon, and preferably at least five gallons.
Choosing the right tank for your betta is one of the most important decisions you will make, and the first step to keeping a healthy, happy fish.
Betta Are Tropical Fish
The first thing to realize is that betta fish are tropical fish, just like neons or platies or Angelfish. This means they need the correct living conditions in which to thrive, and anything less will gradually (or perhaps rapidly) lead to their demise.
However, they do have adaptations that allow them to survive in situations where most other fish would perish. They are anabantids, and this means they can take oxygen from above the water surface as well as breathe through their gills like other fish. In the wild, they have the ability to survive drought by living in stagnant, muddy puddles.
This is why people erroneously think bettas are best kept in very small tanks, plant vases, cubes, and other ridiculous living situations where they would never try to keep another fish. It is one of many betta fish myths that they prefer these types of environments. Just because your betta can survive such conditions doesn’t mean it is ideal.
Remember that wild animals only need to survive long enough to breed in order to be successful. If you only hope your betta experiences the short and difficult life of a wild fish, by all means, keep him in the worst possible conditions and wish him luck. If you want him to live a long, healthy life, opt instead for ideal conditions.
Tropical Fish Require Proper Filtration
Clean, healthy water is extremely important for tropical fish, and a decent filtration system is vital. Very small tanks typically come with air pumps as filters, with the intention of creating some kind of under-gravel system. This simply isn’t good enough for keeping the water clean, especially in such a tiny tank.
There are nano filters available for small tanks, but one-gallon tanks have very little room for such a filter. Even so, betta fish do best with low-flow filtration systems, and an aftermarket filter that pushes them around the tank is not good for stress levels.
In the absence of a decent filter, a small tank owner must choose between doing full water changes and cleanings weekly, or partial water changes where a little debris is left in the tank. Neither is the optimal choice. Of course, leaving excess food and waste in the tank will quickly foul the water, even after a partial water change.
A full water change means the microbe colonies in your tank never have a chance to establish themselves. In healthy tanks microbes help to process the waste in your tank and they do a great deal to keep the water clean. Without them, waste chemicals in the tank quickly skyrocket.
These are problems made much more manageable if you choose a tank that’s capable of having a proper filtration system.
Betta Fish Need Warm Water
As tropical fish, bettas require water in the 75-80 degree range. This means, in most cases, you need a reliable heater for the tank. Small tanks typically do not come with heaters, and this means the tank temperature is governed by the surrounding air temperature. If you live somewhere that the temperature is always at least 75 degrees you may be fine.
For most people, this means you are putting your betta under stress by exposing him to cold water temps. A drop to 65 degrees at night may not seem like much to you, but for a fish that thrives in warmer water, it is very stressful. Even if it is warm in the daytime, at night the temperature in a one-gallon will drop almost as quickly as the air temp.
There are some nano heaters and small heaters designed for bowls. My advice is to use them with caution in any tank under five gallons. You must monitor your water temperature closely to make sure they aren’t raising it too much. Just as cold water can be stressful or deadly for bettas, so can water that is much too warm.
When it comes to tropical aquariums, the larger the tank the easier it is to maintain water temperatures. With a tiny one-gallon tank the deck is stacked against you, and your betta will suffer for it.
Tropical Fish Need Room to Swim
Would you keep a dog in a closet? If you fed him and took him for a walk a couple of times a day he’d probably be fine, right? Maybe get a glass door for the closet so you can see him in here.
Of course, you wouldn’t do that. It would be cruel, and all but the most disturbed among us would agree it is unethical. Yet many of the same otherwise intelligent people consider it okay to keep a fish in a tank where it barely has enough room to turn around.
Clearly, a dog is much more psychologically complex than a fish, so the analogy does fall apart a little. However, the effect on fish kept in poor conditions in tiny tanks is notable.
People often ask me why their betta fish is swimming up and down the side of the tank. This is called glass surfing, and it typically means a fish is very unhappy in its surroundings and trying to get out of that situation. He’s not trying to get out of the tank of course but simply trying to swim somewhere else where conditions may be better.
I’m not going to try to guess what a fish is thinking, but when it behaves this way it is obvious it needs something it isn’t getting. Larger tanks that give betta fish more room to swim are less likely to stress them out in this way.
Small Tanks Are Hard to Keep Clean
A lot of people think the best choice for an easy-to-maintain fish tank is a very small one. It is actually quite the opposite. With the help of a good filtration plan and maybe a few live plants, large tanks are able to establish themselves as little ecosystems that need minimal intervention from the tank owner. A 55-gallon tank may require as little as 30 minutes of care monthly. The rest of the time you just enjoy your fish!
Small tanks, on the other hand, need to be constantly monitored to make sure they are running right. When things go bad, they go bad in a hurry. If you intend to own a one-gallon tank you’d better be prepared to work on it weekly, and always be on the lookout for signs that the tank is getting dirty.
By dirty I don’t just mean physical waste buildup, though that is important to watch for too. Things like overfeeding and poor physical tank placement can also lead to excess algae growth, which in turn affects water quality. An extra pinch of unneeded fish food can have a cascade effect that, if you don’t catch it, leads to very bad things for your betta fish.
This is why maladies like fin rot are so prevalent in fish kept in small tanks. The stress of a confined living area plus the poor water conditions means the fish never has a chance. A 5-gallon tank is (obviously) five times bigger than a one-gallon, so that pinch of unneeded fish food will have less of a detrimental impact.
Better Tanks for Betta Fish
I recently had a conversation with someone who told me she loved those plant vases with bettas in them. I explained what a horrible idea this is, but she said her fish had lived a long time so it must have been okay.
This kind of thinking makes my blood boil. A fish may die or survive based on many factors beyond your control. If your plant-vase betta lives a long time it is in spite of you, not because of you. Similarly, you may do everything right and your betta could die prematurely for reasons you’ll never know.
Yes, the idea here is to get your betta to be healthy and live as long as possible. But more importantly, it’s about the ethical treatment of animals that are under our stewardship. It is a challenge, and if you aren’t up for it that’s okay.
I often hear from people who say they keep their fish in a one-gallon tank because that is all they have room for. My response is that aquarium ownership is not for them right now. That’s okay, and it can wait for someday when they have more space.
I’d like to see all bettas kept in tanks five gallons or bigger. Realistically, I know that’s not going to happen, but maybe a least a few people will read this and get the message. If you are one of those people, spread the word and tell somebody else.
Ethical Treatment for Bettas
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Don’t you think that a one-gallon tank is better than the small cups that pet stores keep bettas in? I buy betta fish not because I feel like I can give them a perfect home, but a better one than a small container.
Answer: Yes, a one-gallon tank is certainly better for a betta than the small cups where they live in the fish store. A one-gallon tank is also better for a betta than a mud puddle, a glass of lemonade or a washing machine. Just because it is better doesn’t mean it is ideal or correct.
The reason bettas are marketed as a disposable pet is that they can survive horrible conditions. This leads people to think that just because their fish survived for years in a bad situation, it really doesn’t matter if they follow proper care guidelines.
To me, it does matter. I see no point in keeping fish if I can’t give them the best home possible. Keeping a betta in a plant vase, tiny bowl or small tank misses the entire point of having the fish. If I can’t be a responsible steward for a living thing brought into my home I’d be better off with a pet rock.
It’s also erroneous thinking to try and “save” bettas from the cups in the store. Think of this from a marketing perspective. These stores don’t know you are trying to rescue the fish. They only know that you bought a fish, and that will lead them to think they must be doing something right. So, they stock more fish.
It’s better to buy bettas from places you know follow smart stocking practices. They keep small numbers of fish on the shelf, not piles and piles of containers as you see in some of the larger chain stores, and they sell them frequently. If you don’t know, ask someone at the store. You may have to look around town to find the right place where you feel comfortable buying fish.
Better still, if you don’t like how bettas are treated in stores, don’t buy them at all. If people don’t buy them, the stores won’t stock them.
In the end, it is up to the fishkeeper how they wish to treat the fish the in their care. Bettas are marketed as disposable pets that can live in tiny tanks or other bad situations. If you keep them that way, you are playing into that marketing.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 29, 2020:
@Beverly - A pleco is not appropriate for an 8-gallon tank. They grow much too large. I would keep a betta alone in a tank that size.
Beverly Brom on August 26, 2020:
I appreciate your advice. I am just setting up an 8 gal. aquarium for one Betta, plants & a hiding place. Of course filter & heater.
Would you recommend Plecostomus or snails or anything else? Nothing else is fine as well.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 03, 2020:
@laur - The only advice I can give is based on my experiences and knowledge. I would not put a betta in a tank smaller than five gallons.
laur on August 02, 2020:
That “minimum” is purely opinion based and arbitrary.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 09, 2020:
@Christina - You can do whatever you want to do. :-) A 4-gallon tank is not as good as a 5-gallon tank but better than a 1-gallon tank. Consider the available information and make the decision that sounds best to you. Good luck!
Christina on March 08, 2020:
Can I use a 4-gallon tank? or is this still too small
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on February 23, 2020:
@Aiden - I'm not sure what I can do to help you. You can explain to your sister what you learned in this article. However, you have to realize that other people are going to do what they think is best. All we can do is try to educate betta owners. They will make their own choices. Good luck.
Aiden Farris on February 22, 2020:
I recently got a betta. my sister has had one for a while. for my sisters betta we had a smaller tank that you might find at walmart it is less than 1 gallon. we found a tank in the attic for mine and it was 2 gallons. i feel bad for my sisters betta seeming so bored and not very much space to even check around and stuff what should i do please help me
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 05, 2020:
@Alex - Please check some of my responses in the comments to people who keep their fish in smaller tanks. I agree that bowls or smaller tanks can work fine if they are cared for by a knowledgeable fish keeper, but beginners are not in that category. I try to educate newbies on the ideal living conditions for bettas, not just conditions that are merely okay or better than mud puddles. They can make their own decisions from there, but if I can scare a few people out of owning a betta fish when they are not prepared to care for it properly I think that's a good thing.
@Tyler - If you keep his water clean he will be fine in the small tank until you can upgrade. Good luck and don't worry! :-)
Alex on January 05, 2020:
If I'm being honest dude, your article is pretentious. My mom has worked in multiple fish stores and has kept fish for over thirty years. I grew up with fish in the house. So I can say with confidence that keeping a betta in a tank smaller than a five gallon isn't inhumane. They may be considered a tropical fish (which really only means they live in warmer water), they literally live in mud puddles in rice fields. So anything larger than a mud puddle is a dream for them. They do not need a five gallon tank to be happy and live a long fulfilling life. Please stop scaring new betta owners and making them feel bad for keeping their betta in something less than a five gallon. If you're putting your betta in a clean, well-lit, one gallon tank, you're already doing wonders for them. Hell, even if you keep them in a fish bowl, as long as it's bigger than the container they come in, you do regular water changes, clean it, and your betta seems happy and healthy then there is nothing wrong with that. Please consider getting off your pedestal when it comes to such a lovely fish.
Tyler on January 04, 2020:
I have a filtered and heated one gallon tank, and a 5.5 gallon heated and filtered tank. My larger tank got cracked during cleaning and I’m broke for about a month. Can my betta be happy in the one gallon until then? It also has live plants and ghost shrimp.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on July 11, 2019:
@Taylor - The 3.5 would certainly be better than the one gallon, but not as good as the 5 gallon. :-)
It's not like a betta fish will immediately die if he is in a 3-gallon tank. Some people can care for them very well in smaller tanks. I recommend a 5-gallon because I think it gives the average fish keeper the best shot at success, and is most ethical for the fish.
Taylor on July 10, 2019:
would a 3.5 gallon tank still be too small? I have a one gallon tank but don’t want to use it after reading up on Betta care
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 20, 2019:
@June - I think the same ideas apply to young and old bettas, for the most part. If he was in a community tank he may be better off alone when he ages, and of course the smooth rocks are a good idea to protect his fins.
June on June 19, 2019:
What do you think of using a smaller tank if your betta is older and has really long flows fins all over.... he had trouble getting around his 10 gallon and was unhappy a lot...his new place is easier for him to navigate, with smooth rocks and moss balls and a stick of bamboo through it with floating leaves on top He’s been really happier, I feel
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 30, 2019:
Hi Wendy - If you have the patience to scroll through my profile page you'll find articles that answer most of those questions in depth.
A few things:
Water condition only removes things like chlorine to make tap water (for example) safe. It doesn't take the place of a water change. Water changes are how you keep his water clean.
The only way to know if your water parameters are acceptable is to test. Time isn't an indication.
It's okay to leave him in the tank -- you don't have to take him out when you add conditioner. Filter running is fine.
He will eat when he is hungry. Do not overfeed if he isn't eating the food.
A heater is a good idea.
Wendy on May 29, 2019:
Thank you. That made me feel better. This is my first betta so im a bit worried about some things:
1) hee floating at the top of the water. So i googled it and said that the wayer might be bad. I put just a bit over 2.5 ml of conditoner yesterday in his tank and let it sit for a couple of hours then i set him the tank. So i noticed he was doing this all day yesterday but dissapeared at night. Then this morning he was doing it again. So i took him out and put more conditioner in. Just under 2.5 ml since i worry about it being too much. Im at work until 4 today so i figured while he chills in his old cup that should be enough time for the filter to filter out everything and the conditioner to work.
2) should i have the filter running while i put the condioner in? I cant find anything that suggest whats best for it. Have the filter running while i put the conditioner in or have the filter off while the conditioner sets?
3) he hasnt ate yet. I put food in the tank yesterday and nothing. And this morning i put in some more and still nothing. But he has pooped so im assuming he ate something at some point.
Im new when it comes to bettas. Ive had all different types of fish and none have acted this way. So im a bit worried. I want to make sure he is ok and happy.
4) would a small heater help? I havent picked out one because im trying to find the best size one. A small or medium size one for a 1.6 gallon?
5) (sorry for all the questions. You just seem more informed than the lady who sold me him) any other recommendations would be great! I think thats just all i have.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 29, 2019:
@Madison - I really don't recommend putting anything in a one-gallon tank.
@Wendy - Don't panic! While small tanks are not ideal, if you already have a betta in a 1.6-gallon tank, and you have no way to upgrade, your betta can live a long, happy life if you are able to keep up with tank maintenance and maintain quality water parameters. It may just be a little harder than it would with a larger tank.
Wendy on May 28, 2019:
After reading this article im stressed and worried about my new betta. I was told by the clerk that my 1.6 gallon take that i had bought for another fish that had been in it before passing would be fine for the betta. I made sure to ask a ton of question auch as keeping the tank clean. Special requirements. Food type. Warmth. Etc. She went over with me everything i askes and reasured me that my tank would be fine for my little guy. I bought it a medium size cave to hide in and swim around. It diesnt take up a ton of space and a fake plant to make it feel homey. I made sure to re arrange this to give him the most room to swim around in. It came with a filter and i set reminder in my phone to clean the filer and tank out to keep him happy. I even googled to make sure a 1.6 gallon tank would be ok and google said yes. And now after stumbling upon thia article im really stressed out and worried about my guy. I cant aford a 5 gallon tank nor have the room for it. Which is why i asked more than once and she said they will be fine. Now im not sure what to do. I want the guy to love a long and happy life. Any advice for me until i can get him the proper tank one day and hopefully soon?
Madison on May 27, 2019:
I have my beta in a one gallon tank right now and because of the research I have done, I have decided to move him to a larger tank. Is there anything I can put in the one gallon tank that could survive or should I just retire that tank?
Gretch on April 06, 2019:
I didn’t know this about tank size. I am on my second Betta. My first died after 5 years, and I always used a .7 cube tank. My betta seems happy as ever! Blows bubble nests all the time. I think a bigger tank is better, but a small one is okay as long as you are diligent about cleaning it. I clean ours once a week!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 30, 2019:
@Kathy - I'd consider getting him into the 5-gallon as soon as I could. It is strange that you were able to purchase such a young betta from a pet store. I would feed whatever they suggested. If you try flakes make sure you watch him to be sure he eats them. If he doesn't, don't add any more. Good luck!
Kathy J Moody on March 29, 2019:
Hi Eric . I just bought a baby Beta because I have a really cool gallon tank. The container at the pet store said Baby boy on the side and baby girl on the top.The employee was dissing the other workers but then he tried to see and couldn't tell himself! He said it " may be a King , whats that mean lol he or she is like 1/4 inch long . How soon does he need a 5 gallon space? Hes ( im caliing it he) seems to be doing great.He has a lucky bamboo. Hes having spoon crushed pellets, should i buy flakes also? Thanks for the info, I just love him and a bit stumped for his name, lol
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on February 18, 2019:
@EmilyAnn - He should be fine in the half-gallon bowl in the short term, but I think it is smart that you intend to upgrade him. Good luck with your betta!
EmilyAnn on February 17, 2019:
Hi! i just got a betta fish and the person at the pet store told me it would be fine to get a 0.5 gallon bowl. after i got home and looked it up i realized this was way too small but can't get to the store until friday or saturday. do you think the fish will be okay for a week in such a small tank? he is already stressed from the move
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 29, 2019:
@Tabitha - Just makes sure his water is clean and he should heal up just fine. Watch for signs of infection and treat with antibiotic if necessary.
Tabitha King on January 27, 2019:
I have a Betta fish and he is good but he lost a little piece of his fin tell me what I could do
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 06, 2019:
@Meade - Actually, any unscrupulous pet stores are more likely to want to sell tiny one-gallon or under tanks. They don't cost much less than 5-gallon tanks and it is easy to convince consumers to purchase them. It is harder to convince people to buy larger tanks that require more effort to manage. This is why bettas in plant vases were so popular a while back - people want a fish, but don't want to actually have to care for it. Certainly some pet stores think this way, but the good ones will give consumers good advice whether it leads to a sale or not.
Meade on January 05, 2019:
I think people who work at pet stores want to sell bigger tanks, so they push that you must have a 5 ,000 gallon tank for a tiny Betta fish. Money talks.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on December 24, 2018:
@Kennedy - I always recommend at least a 5-gallon tank for a single betta fish.
@Kennedy on December 23, 2018:
I got a new betta fish, and he lives in a 1.3 Gallen tank. I'm worried that it's too small. Should I go get a bigger tank or will he be fine in the one he's in?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on November 16, 2018:
Hi Elizabeth - If you take care of him he will be fine in a 5-gallon tank. Good luck!
Elizabeth on November 15, 2018:
I got a betta and researched the minimum to be 2.5 gal so I decided I'd get a 5 gal and he was active the morning after I got him I think he was stressed the night before but anyway I'm wondering because I love my fish he is a king male and well I'm wondering if he can be really really happy in a tank that's 5 gallons or if I should get a 10 gallon one
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 20, 2018:
@Linda - I'm glad your betta is doing well. Many die too soon because of poor living conditions. That's why I recommend bigger tanks. Keep up the good work.
Linda licata on September 18, 2018:
I have my betta in a one gallon tang with a filter and a hiding place. He seems happy. Good appetite. Loves to hide. I do not see anything wrong with a one gallon tank for a betta.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 08, 2018:
@Karen - It could be a number of things. You may wish to do a search for betta diseases and see if any of his symptoms match known issues.
karen on September 05, 2018:
MY BETA HAS A REALLY FAT BELLY RECENTLY
JUST WONDERING IF THIS IS JUST FROM EATING OR A DIGESTIVE PROBLEM
I USUALLY FEED HIM 1-2 PELLETS DAILY SO I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE I WAS OVER FEEDING HIM
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on July 08, 2018:
@Lucy - It's okay. Just do the best you can with what you have. One-gallon tanks are not ideal, but if you keep it clean your betta can live a health, happy life. It's not the end of the world. or even your betta's world.
Lucy on July 07, 2018:
I'm SO upset right now! I had my fish in a 3 gallon tank, which I thought was fine until it leaked. I wanted to get a new bigger tank, but my mom made me buy a 1 gallon tank, and I can't get a new one!! I'm so sad for my fish, because he will just be stuck in there forever now.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 10, 2018:
@Julia - Don't be upset. Keep the water clean by doing regular water changes, and try to avoid overfeeding. As you can see from the comments in this article, many bettas live for a long time in small tanks. They just aren't ideal. Do your best to care for him in his present home and upgrade when you can. Good luck!
Julia on May 09, 2018:
I have a betta fish, I got him a one gallon. And I'm very sad and distressed at this information. What can I do to keep him happy and helthy until I can buy a new tank?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 07, 2018:
@Angela - Your fish may indeed be special, but I still wouldn't take this as any proof that small tanks are better for betta fish. There was a reason he was stressed in the 10-gallon tank, and it had nothing to do with tank size. I hope he does well in his new tank.
Angela on April 06, 2018:
I had my beta in a 10 gallon filtered, decorated, and heated tank and he would non stop flare, get stressed, and he seemed uninterested in his food. I decided to move him to a smaller cylindrical 2 gallon, heated, filtered tank with the live plants and a nice hiding place from the bigger tank and now he seems happy, is swimming up to the top, and is actually eating. I’m convinced my fish is special!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 18, 2017:
@Emma: Just because it did not die does not mean it was the right thing to do. The number of fish that die because of poor tank conditions vastly outnumbers those kept in tiny tanks that live for 2 years.
Emma Rose Gilman on June 17, 2017:
I kept my beta fish in a HALF GALLON tank for two years before it died. There was a small cave and a plant with some pebbles on the bottom and that was it. And it only does because no one fed it while we were on vacation!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 28, 2017:
Thanks so much for the kind words, Amanda! I'm glad you found the article useful.
Amanda on May 27, 2017:
Much like many of my peers, any time there is something I need to know or am curious about it, my first impulse is to do internet research and sift through search results and hopefully garner enough actual information over 10 or so clickbaity articles to come to a somewhat informed decision on what I am trying to figure out. That's all well and good, but this is easily the most simple, to the point, and thoroughly educational article I have clicked on since longer than I can even remember. I seriously just learned so much and didn't have to dig relevant information out of one long, rambling opinion piece. Every word was valuable. I'm stoked, thank you. I was doing everything wrong and you just answered every single exact question I had about how to do it right, without bringing up politics or something you're mad about. My betta thanks you, too.
Beachhopper from Vancouver Island, British Columbia on March 05, 2017:
"Would you keep a dog in a closet? If you fed him and took him for a walk a couple of times a day he’d probably be fine, right? Maybe get a glass door for the closet so you can see him in here."
I LOVE that analogy! :D Excellent!