5 Best Fish You Can Keep in a Fishbowl

Keeping aquarium fish is among the exciting and wonderful hobbies, but the work should not be all about your enjoyment. You will have to think of the right bowl size and water conditions for the fish.

Keeping your fish in a fishbowl is not recommended because the environment may not be unfavourable.

Best Fish You Can Keep in a Fishbowl
Best Fish You Can Keep in a Fishbowl

Though, fish bowls are said to be a good starting point for people who want to practice fish keeping as a hobby. Here are the five best fish you can keep in a bowl.

1. Betta Fish

If you have a small fishbowl, around 1-gallon size, betta fish are a good choice. Betta fish are very aggressive and they will not get along well with others, particularly other betta fish. Experts recommend keeping of the fish on their own, regardless of the size of the bowl or tank. Due to their small size, the fish will do well including in a 1-gallon tank.

Betta fish are also resilient. So, if you can change the water regularly and clean the tank, you do not need to invest in a water filter. Their labyrinth organ allows them to breathe air from the water surface, meaning that you do not need to install a water oxygenation system for them.

Caring for betta fish is easy because they are not picky eaters and they do not need any special equipment. They will be happy alone in a small tank or bowl.

2. Endler Guppies

Endler Guppies have an interesting colour – the male has small red spots on their body in addition to the emerald-green spot near the tail. The tail fin edges are red and the middle part is transparent. Japan blue is among the most beautiful colourings of the Endler guppies.

They have a light blue tail and body with a silvery coloured head and a black spot on the side. Their lifespan ranges from 1 year to 2 years – that depends on the water temperature. High water temperature increases the metabolic processes and therefore reduces the lifespan of the fish.

Due to their dwarf size, Endler guppies are perfect inhabitants for bowls and small aquarium tanks. They only need a small tank or bowl to thrive due to their small size. They mainly grow up to 1.4 inches long, meaning that several of them will fit in a small 1-gallon bowl.

However, when buying them you have to remember that there is a huge difference between overcrowding and community.

While you cannot place each Endler guppy in its bowl, you should also not put many in one tank. Stick to around 3-4 guppies per gallon of water.

They are friendly with the other fish species so there is no problem with housing them in one tank with other small-sized fish. Unlike the betta fish, Endler guppies will need a water filter.

3. Sparkling Gourami

The Sparkling Gourami, also known as the Pygmy Gourami, is among the smallest fish you will find in aquariums. It is a member of the labyrinth fish family and its body resembles that of juvenile or female betta.

It is very small that what you would expect in common Gourami. The key reason the tiny anabantid are called “sparkling” is their colouration – the eyes and body look iridescent in proper lighting.

The sparkling gourami will be a good addition to your successful cycled fish tank. Keep in mind that the fish are easy to keep but delicate. You will have to watch the water parameters carefully so that they can survive.

The pygmy fish are a good addition in small aquarium tanks and bowls, preferably properly planted and with many hiding places. Due to their small size, you should not keep them in one tank with the aggressive or big tank mates.

Unlike the other gourami fish, you can place the sparkling gourami in a large number in one aquarium tank. You do not need to keep them in schools. The lifespan of sparkling gourami is 3 years and they will grow to around 1.5 inches. Choose a bowl size above 3 gallons if you want them to grow bigger.

4. Ember Tetras

The Ember Tetra, Hyphessobrycon amandae, is a small light orange fish with a semi-transparent body. These fish are on the small side and can only grow to around 0.75 inches or 1 inch as adults.

They originated from the Araguaia River basin, South America. To promote schooling behaviour, you will have to place your ember tetras in groups of 5 or more. Apart from their great look, the fish do well in heavily planted tanks. Quality small pellet foods form a large percentage of their diet.

The fish require low-PH and soft water but they will also live comfortably in hard water. Even though they are very small, they are very active in the tank so you have to be careful about the tank setup so that you can give them the freedom they need to swim throughout the day.

Most tetras are of orange colour but you will also find some in shades of red. Their eyes have the same colour as that of the body and they have a black outline. The bodies are elongated and they have a very large dorsal fin and small caudal fin.

They will do well in adequately planted nano tanks because they enjoy relaxing in plants and swimming. What most aquarists do not know is that these fish prefer slightly acidic water and they are comfortable in decently planted environments.

In addition to that, they are easier to maintain. The recommended minimum bowl size is 3 gallons. Never put the ember tetras in one tank with fish large enough to eat them. Try to maintain a PH level between 5 and 7 and temperature between 75 degrees F and 82 degrees F.

5. Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios is among the freshwater fish you will find in aquariums and bowls today. The fish originated from central Asia countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Nepal. It is very peaceful, beautiful and does well in a community aquarium tank.

If cared for properly, the fish will live for over 5 years and when fully grown it measures around 5-7 inches. Zebra Danios are easy to care for and are a good choice for beginner-level fish keepers.

Even though zebra danios live in various environments in the wild, they prefer water with a small current. And because most of the zebra danios in most aquariums are bred in captivity, they are hardy and they can survive in almost any aquarium. Due to their small size, they can live in bowls as small as 3 gallons.

When living in community tanks, they tend to be hyperactive and therefore suited for larger, busy aquariums. If possible, you should place your zebra danios in an aquarium tank above 10 gallons because they love swimming and they will thrive if you keep them in a spacious tank.

As we have said, zebra danios do well in schools. So, you should keep them in groups of at least 5. If the number is very low, the fish will become stressed and start acting unordinary. They can portray various symptoms such as loss of appetite and aggression to their tank mates.

Try to maintain the temperature between 65 degrees F and 77 degrees F. The water should be hard and with a PH level between 6.5 and 7.2. They do not need filtration, but if you must do it, HOB filter is recommendable because it will increase the current – zebra danios love currents. Provide them with small insects, algae, worms and crustaceans.

What is the Best Fish Bowl Size?

The market provides fishbowls of various sizes. The ½-gallon fish bowls are possibly the smallest but they are widely available. You will also get bowls as large as 3 gallons.

When shopping for one, keep in mind that your fish requires enough room to swim comfortably throughout the day. So, you have to think of the size of your dream fish about the size of the fishbowl.

Generally, the larger the size of a fish, the larger the living space you will need for them. And having more than one fish in the bowl will demand a larger size too.

Large fish are known to create a lot of waste for a small bowl to handle and that might lead to faster bacteria and ammonia build up. As a rule of thumb, go for a fishbowl with a size above 3 gallons.

What Aquarium Plants to Add in a Fishbowl?

Plastic plants will provide your bowl or tank with a great look and provide your fish with good hiding places for them to feel protected.

On the other hand, live plants offer many benefits such as helping maintain the right amount of ammonia in the aquarium water and adding oxygen into the water. If you choose to use live plants, provide adequate lighting for them.

Inadequate lighting will cause the plants to wither and they will die at the end. a lot of light will facilitate the growth of algae, which will compete for food with the plants. Algae blooms will make the water to turn green – Endler’s do not mind algae blooms.

Can You Keep Goldfish in Glass Bowl?

People have considered goldfish the first choice for their fishbowls. However, fishbowls are not a good environment for them. Even though goldfish do well in unheated water tanks and are hardy, they will produce a lot of waste that the bio-filtration process might not handle in the small space.

The fish will also attain a huge size within a short time such that the space the fishbowl offers will be inadequate. A small space will stunt their growth. That happens due to ill health and poor water quality in the fishbowl. Most goldfish will need a tank larger than 20 gallons and after they reach maturity, you should transfer them to a small water pond.

What Filter to Use for Fish Bowl?

The aquarium sponge filter or small canister filter is the best for fish bowls. Even though the filter has a very bad reputation as the ugliest filter that does not work well in most aquariums, it is among the best filters you will ever use. The filter is the simplest to use and it can run on powerheads or basic air pumps. The filter will not catch the fins of your fish and it is inexpensive.

Manufacturers use air tubes and porous spongy materials to make the filters so they provide mechanical and biological filtration of waste. It will also filter solid particles and by-products in the water to leave the best environment for your fish.

You should note that the spongy materials do not provide chemical filtration. You can attach a carbon bag to them if chemical filtration sounds good to you.

Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter is one of the effective sponge filters in the market. It will filter water in tanks below the size of 10 gallons and the manufacturer makes it for use in both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

It is easy for new users. You can customize it and even open it. Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter also features anti-vibration brushings so it operates quietly when in a small bowl.

How Often to Change Water in Fish Bowl?

You should change the water one or two times a week if the bowl has no filtration system. Regular water changes will serve two purposes. First, you will eliminate bad odours coming from the bowl and secondly, you provide the fish with good water conditions they need to thrive.

Each time you realize that the glass on the fishbowl is becoming blurred, you should change the water immediately. Do not change more than a 1/3 of the water at a time.

By replacing more water than that, you will end up stressing the fish by making water conditions less than ideal for survival or healthy development.

If the bowl is filtered and it is heavily planted, change 10-15 percent of the water each week. If you have only installed a filter and there are plants, change at least 15-20 percent of the water each week. If the water has no filtration system, change 25-40 percent of the water once or twice a week. Ensure that the bowl is adequately heated.


Before buying any fish or fishbowl, you should come up with a plan on how to care for the fish. That is the first step to establishing a fishbowl with healthy and happy fish.

If you encountered problems, keeping fish before, you should not be afraid to try for another time. Study everything you can about fish and fishbowls to know the right fish to buy.

With adequate preparation, you will find it easier to keep the fish.

Updated: November 25, 2019

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