Can A Goldfish Live In A Bowl? Pros and Cons Explained

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Goldfish are known for being beautiful fish that are not only fun to watch but are easy to care for as well. These make them perfect beginner fish for people who are just starting out in the hobby. Unfortunately, the fact that conflicting information exists about how to care for goldfish is one of the main reasons why so many people end up with sick or unhappy fish.

One of the most common questions that new goldfish owners have is whether or not their fish can live in a bowl. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not it is possible for goldfish to spend their entire lives in a bowl.  

Can Goldfish Be Kept In Fish Bowls?

Yes, a goldfish can live in a bowl, but you must be prepared to take proper care of it. Maintaining ideal water parameters is a lot harder in a bowl than in an aquarium. Think about it – bowls have narrower openings, curved surfaces, and less water. This makes basic things like frequent water changes and filtration more difficult.

In addition, some types of goldfish, such as fancy goldfish, have highly specific temperature requirements that may require a heater. Finding room in a bowl to accommodate these needs can be a little difficult.

Because of these obstacles, it’s often better to keep aquarium fish in an aquarium rather than a bowl. However, if you’re determined to keep your goldfish in a bowl, there are some things you need to know. This article will teach you how to keep a goldfish bowl clean and habitable. Do it right, and you’ll be able to keep your fish alive for years to come.

How Do You Keep A Goldfish In A Bowl?

Goldfish bowls are small, enclosed spaces that do not allow for proper filtration or water circulation. They are a far cry from the actual habitats of goldfish, which are large ponds with plenty of places to hide and explore. In order to keep your goldfish alive and healthy for the length of their average life span, you must take special care to keep the water clean, well-oxygenated, and free of toxic chemical levels.

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

Make Sure Your Bowl Is Big Enough

happy mother showing to her child a fish bowl with gold fish inside

Many goldfish owners first lay eyes on their future pet fish while they’re housed in tiny fish bowls at pet stores. Once they bring their goldfish home, however, they will invariably come face-to-face with the reality that these messy fish grow to their adult size rapidly. At this juncture, many people quickly realize that they need a larger environment to give their goldfish a healthy life.

Getting the right-sized bowl from the start is one way to avoid having to upgrade your goldfish’s home later on. A good rule of thumb is to allocate 2.5 gallons per fish. This means that for every additional goldfish you introduce to your bowl, you will need to increase the size of your bowl proportionately. Another rule is to allow an inch per gallon of water – for example, a three-inch goldfish should be housed in a 3-gallon bowl or larger.

These stocking guidelines may seem rigid, but they’re actually vital in ensuring that you keep your goldfish alive in environments with acceptable water quality. The biggest habitat this species of fish would be raised in at a fish farm are actually outdoor ponds, so this gives you an idea of just how much space goldfish need to stay healthy.

Because of the sheer volume of water needed to accommodate them at their maximum fish size, many people find fish tanks a more viable alternative compared to bowls. However, if you follow the stocking guidelines carefully and do not overcrowd your bowl, you should be able to keep your goldfish healthy in a bowl environment.

Clean Your Bowl Regularly

Goldfish in a round aquarium.

Another important thing to remember when keeping goldfish in a bowl is to clean it regularly. Traditionally, hobbyists recommend doing partial water changes of at least 25% every week. However, this piece of advice typically applies to a conventional, larger tank. If you plan on keeping your goldfish in a bowl, you will need more frequent water changes to keep toxic ammonia levels, nitrite levels, and nitrate levels at bay.

The frequency at which you need to do water changes will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of your bowl, how many goldfish you have, their activity level, and what kinds of fish food you’re feeding them. In general, it’s best to err on the side of caution and do daily water changes. This may seem like a lot, but remember that goldfish need fresh water to thrive.

Tedious as it may seem, regular tank or bowl maintenance is key to keeping your goldfish healthy. Poor water quality is one of the leading causes of death in goldfish, so it’s important to be vigilant about changing your fish’s water and keeping an eye on water quality levels.

Some people may have heard that goldfish bowls do not need water changes – but that’s horrible advice. These fish need freshwater that’s free of toxic chemicals, and the only way to ensure this is to do regular water changes. Only then can they be considered appropriate candidates for fish bowl life.

Use A Water Conditioner

API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner

Regardless of whether your fish are housed in a 50-gallon tank or a 50-gallon fish bowl, it’s vital that you use a water conditioner. There are very few available sources of aquarium-ready water, so it’s likely that you’ll need to treat your chlorinated tap water before using it for goldfish in a fish bowl. This is a crucial aspect of goldfish keeping that many people overlook, but it’s essential in ensuring the long-term health of your fish.

There are a variety of water conditioners on the market that remove harmful chemicals from bodies of water, making it safe for goldfish and other aquarium inhabitants. On top of removing the chloramines in tap water, many moist water conditioners also replace the beneficial minerals that are removed during the treatment process, which is essential for keeping your goldfish healthy.

When it comes to taking care of goldfish, using a water conditioner is non-negotiable. So, be sure to pick up a bottle of water conditioner that can get rid of chlorine levels before setting up your fish bowl and use it every time you do a water change. 

Get A Good Water Filter

Riakrum 2 Pieces Mini Aquarium Single Sponge Filter Submersible Foam Filter Quiet Fish Tank Filter for Small Fish Tank 0.5-5 Gallon Fixed Freshwater Salt Water

If you plan on keeping your goldfish in a bowl, proper filtration is essential. While it’s possible to keep goldfish in a bowl without a filter, this is not recommended, as it significantly increases the amount of work required to maintain a healthy environment for goldfish. A good filter will remove fish waste particles and uneaten food from your fish’s water, thus lowering the levels of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite.

There are a number of filters on the market that are specifically designed for use in fish bowls, so be sure to do your research and find one that’s right for you. Power filters are typically the best option for goldfish bowls, as they’re small and unobtrusive. A high-end power filter will even come with biological filters that house beneficial bacteria, which help to break down fish food and keep water quality high.

In general, it’s best to get a filter that’s rated for at least twice the volume of your fish bowl. So, if you have a 10-gallon fish bowl, opt for something that’s rated for 20 gallons per hour. Thanks to the advancements in filtration technology, it’s easier than ever to find a quality filter that will do a great job of keeping your goldfish bowl clean and clear. Remember that clean water is essential for the health of goldfish, so don’t skimp on filtration.

Invest In An Air Stone or Air Pump

People often forget that goldfish need oxygen, just like we do. In fact, goldfish require more oxygen than many other fish species, as they’re constantly respiring and producing waste. This is why it’s important to ensure that your fish bowl has adequate aeration. The best way to do this is to invest in an air stone or in aquarium air pumps.

  • Air stones (sometimes known as bubble stones) are 1/2 – 3/4″ round stones that diffuse air into water. They’re placed in an aquarium or fish bowl and connected to an air pump via airline tubing. When the air pump is turned on, it forces air through the stone, which creates air bubbles. These bubbles help to aerate the water and make it easier for goldfish to breathe.
  • Air pumps are small devices that move air through an aquarium or fish bowl via airline tubing. They can be used to aerate the water and make it easier for goldfish to breathe. Air pumps are relatively inexpensive and can be found at most pet stores.

The way these devices work is via constant surface agitation, which creates a larger surface for air to water contact, allowing gas exchange to take place. The goal is to create the largest surface area possible so that more oxygen can be dissolved into the otherwise stagnant water. The most efficient air pumps can move hundreds of liters of water per hour, so it’s important to get one that’s appropriately sized for your fish bowl.

Water movement is important for the health of goldfish, so be sure to invest in an air stone or air pump if you plan on keeping your fish in a bowl. Healthy oxygen levels are essential for goldfish, and these devices will help to ensure that your fish have the oxygen they need to thrive.

Consider Adding Live Plants

Aquatic plants don’t just add to the aesthetic appeal of a tank – they also provide a number of benefits for the fish that live in it. Plants such as Brazilian elodea help create a body of oxygenated water. In addition, plants help to remove harmful toxins from the body of water, thus keeping the water clean. They also provide a place for fish to hide and feel secure.

If you’re considering adding plants to your goldfish bowl, be sure to research which plants are best suited for life in a bowl. Some plants require more care than others, and not all plants will do well in the limited space of a fish bowl. In general, it’s best to stick with hardy plants that don’t require much care, such as hornwort or java moss.

Remember that goldfish are notorious for eating plants, so you may need to take special measures to ensure that your plants are safe from hungry fish. Another option is to use artificial plants, which are made from durable materials that goldfish can’t chew through. A bowl with silk plant life can be just as beautiful as a bowl with real plants, and you won’t have to worry about your fish destroying them.

Test Your Water Often 

shot of water test kit

Above all, paying attention to water quality is the most important thing you can do to ensure that your goldfish are healthy and happy. Your base reading should include ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Test kits can be found at most pet stores, and your ammonia readings should always be 0 ppm. Nitrites should also be at 0 ppm, as they’re toxic to fish and can cause serious health problems, such as goldfish turning black.

Besides testing your water for ammonia, you should also monitor its water temperature. Goldfish in bowls – even adult goldfish, are vulnerable to drastic temperature changes, as these small bodies of water can heat up or cool down very quickly. Use a reliable aquarium thermometer to keep track of the temperature in your fish bowl, and make sure that it stays between 68-74 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Takeaway

Goldfish keeping is a rewarding hobby, but it’s important to remember that goldfish require special care and the correct living conditions in order to thrive. Pets that live in poor conditions will display stunted growth and suffer from muscle atrophy, so be sure to follow our advice in terms of goldfish bowls if you want your pet fish to be happy and healthy.

While a fish bowl might not be the ideal home for a goldfish, it is possible to keep your goldfish healthy in one for a long time – as long as you take the necessary precautions. We hope this article has been helpful in teaching you how to create a safe and comfortable environment for your goldfish bowl.

Did you enjoy this article? Please share it with your friends and family if you did! And if you have any questions, please feel free to leave us a comment below. Thanks for reading, and happy fishkeeping!

Wanda is a second-generation aquarist from the sunny tropics of Malaysia. She has been helping her father with his freshwater tanks since she was a toddler, and has fallen in love with the hobby ever since. A perpetual nomad, Wanda does her best to integrate fish-keeping with her lifestyle, and has taken care of fish in three different continents. She loves how it provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of life.

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