10 Best Fish for a Fish Bowl (Beginner Friendly)

Are you considering adding a fish bowl to your home, but unsure which fish species are suitable? Step right into our ultimate guide on the best fish for fish bowls, where we’ll unveil top picks and vital tips to ensure your aquatic companions thrive in their new environment.

best fish keep bowl

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Betta Fish

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are a popular choice for fish bowls due to their vibrant colors and unique personalities. They are known for their ability to survive in smaller tanks, but are best suited for larger environments with proper filtration and heating systems.

beautiful betta fish

  • Tank Size: 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm)
  • Temperament: 76-82°F (24-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; feed with betta-specific pellets or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years

Despite their small size, bettas can be territorial; ensure a single male per fish bowl. Males and females can’t be housed together except for breeding purposes. Keep betta fish in a consistently warm environment and away from drafts to maximize their health and happiness.


Paradise Fish

Paradise fish, also known as Macropodus opercularis, are a lively and hardy alternative to bettas that also share striking colors and an elaborate fin structure. They have less stringent requirements and can tolerate a range of water conditions.

Paradise Fish

  • Tank Size: 5 gallons (19 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 2.5-4 inches (6-10 cm)
  • Temperament: 68-80°F (20-27°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; feed with flakes or pellets and supplement with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years

Paradise fish can coexist with other fish, but avoid pairing with slow or timid tank mates. A well-rounded diet and stable water temperature will contribute to a healthy paradise fish. These charming and adaptable fish are a great addition to your fish bowl family.


Endler Guppies

Endler guppies are small, colorful, and active fish that make a delightful addition to a fish bowl. As a peaceful species, they easily coexist with other friendly fish and are known for their adaptability to various water conditions.

endlers livebearer

  • Tank Size: 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 0.7-1.4 inches (1.8-3.5 cm)
  • Temperament: 72-79°F (22-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms
  • Lifespan: 2-3 years

When choosing Endler guppies for your fish bowl, opt for smaller groups of the same sex to prevent overcrowding. Ensuring optimal water quality, temperature, and a diverse diet will pave the way for your Endler guppies to thrive.


Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling gourami, also known as pygmy gourami or Trichopsis pumila, are small, personable fish that can make an interesting addition to a fish bowl. Their shimmering skin and unique croaking sounds make them a fascinating choice for enthusiasts.

sparkling gourami

  • Tank Size: 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy to moderate
  • Adult Size: 1-1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm)
  • Temperament: 75-81°F (24-27°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; fine flake or pellet food, complemented with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms
  • Lifespan: 4 years

Sparkling gourami prefer dimly-lit environments and plenty of hiding spots to feel comfortable. Although they are relatively peaceful, they may not be the best cohabitants with similar-looking species. Proper care, diet, and a well-suited environment will ensure your sparkling gourami have a happy, healthy life in your fish bowl.


Ember Tetras

Ember tetras, known scientifically as Hyphessobrycon amandae, are a captivating addition to fish bowls with their vibrant orange-red hues and peaceful nature. These tiny fish enjoy the company of their own kind and thrive in small schools.

ember tetra

  • Tank Size: 5 gallons (19 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 0.8-1 inch (2-2.5 cm)
  • Temperament: 73-84°F (23-29°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; use a high-quality flake or pellet food, and add live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms occasionally
  • Lifespan: 2-3 years

Remember to provide plenty of aquatic plants and hiding spaces for ember tetras to feel secure. They can coexist with other small and peaceful fish species, but avoid keeping them with larger, aggressive fish. With proper care and an appropriate environment, ember tetras will add a pop of color to your fish bowl.


Zebra Danios

Zebra danios, scientifically known as Danio rerio, are popular among fish enthusiasts due to their distinctive striped patterns and active swimming behavior. These hardy fish adapt well to a variety of water conditions, making them a suitable choice for fish bowls.

zebra danio

  • Tank Size: 5 gallons (19 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Temperament: 65-77°F (18-25°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; feed with flake or pellet food, along with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years

Zebra danios are happier in small schools, so consider keeping a group of at least five for optimal well-being. They get along with other peaceful species, but avoid housing them with slow-moving or long-finned fish. Providing a stable environment and varied diet will help ensure the health and happiness of your zebra danios.


White Cloud Minnows

White Cloud Minnows, also known as Tanichthys albonubes, are a beautiful and resilient species that can thrive in fish bowls. Their small size, peaceful nature, and adaptability make them an excellent choice for beginners and seasoned fish keepers alike.

white cloud minnow

  • Tank Size: 5 gallons (19 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 1.5 inches (3.8 cm)
  • Temperament: 64-72°F (18-22°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; feed with high-quality flake or pellet food, and supplement with live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years

White Cloud Minnows prefer to be in small schools of at least six, so plan your fish bowl accordingly. They can peacefully cohabit with other gentle fish species, making them a versatile and enjoyable addition to your aquatic setup. Proper care and a nutritionally-balanced diet will help your White Cloud Minnows flourish.


Scarlet Badis

Scarlet badis, known by their scientific name Dario dario, are stunning little fish that can be the stars of your fish bowl. Their brilliant red and blue coloration make these tiny fish charismatic and eye-catching.

scarlet badis

  • Tank Size: 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 0.8-1 inch (2-2.5 cm)
  • Temperament: 68-79°F (20-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; primarily feed with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, or micro worms
  • Lifespan: 4 years

Scarlet badis do well in sparsely-populated fish bowls, as they can be territorial. Males are more brightly-colored than females and can coexist with small, peaceful species. Providing well-maintained water conditions, a live-food diet, and suitable hiding spots are key to ensuring the health and happiness of your scarlet badis.


Six-Ray Corydoras

Six-Ray Corydoras, also known as Corydoras habrosus, are small, bottom-dwelling fish that can be charming additions to your fish bowl. These peaceful and social fish are known for their unique schooling behavior and ability to scavenge debris from the substrate.

six ray corydoras

  • Tank Size: 5 gallons (19 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 1-1.2 inches (2.5-3 cm)
  • Temperament: 72-79°F (22-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; feed with sinking pellets or wafers, and supplement with live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years

Six-Ray Corydoras thrive in groups of at least six and coexist harmoniously with other small, peaceful fish species. A soft, sandy substrate, plenty of hiding spots, and clean water conditions will contribute to the well-being of your Six-Ray Corydoras, ensuring they play a valuable role in your fish bowl ecosystem.


Pea Pufferfish

Pea pufferfish, or Carinotetraodon travancoricus, are the smallest of the pufferfish family and make a unique and intriguing addition to fish bowls. Their intelligence, curiosity, and interesting behavior can quickly make them a favorite among fish enthusiasts.

small pufferfish

  • Tank Size: 5 gallons (19 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • Temperament: 74-82°F (23-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; primarily feed with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, or snails
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years

Due to their territorial nature, pea pufferfish are best kept as solitary fish in a fish bowl, or housed with other pea puffers with caution. Providing a stimulating environment with aquatic plants and hiding spots will ensure the well-being and happiness of your pea pufferfish. A species-specific diet is essential for maintaining their health.


Preparing Your Fish Bowl: Size Matters

When it comes to fish bowls, one of the most important factors to consider is the size. A common misconception is that fish will only grow to the size of their container, but this is not true. Fish will continue to grow, and an adequate living space is crucial to their health and well-being.

The first thing to consider when choosing a fish bowl is the type of fish you plan to house. Some fish are more suitable for small environments, while others require larger spaces to thrive.

  • For a single betta fish, a minimum of 2 gallons is recommended. Betta fish are popular choices for fish bowls because they have beautiful, flowing fins and can live comfortably in smaller containers. However, they deserve an appropriate living space, so avoid anything smaller than 2 gallons.
  • For small groups of fish, such as guppies or tetras, aim for at least 5 gallons. Keep in mind that the more fish you have, the larger the bowl should be. These small fish are active swimmers and will require adequate space for swimming and exploring.

Along with size, another important aspect when setting up a fish bowl is water quality. It’s essential to have a water filtration system in place to maintain a clean environment for your fish. A small sponge filter or an air-driven corner filter can be suitable for a fish bowl.

Maintenance is important too. Regular water changes, as well as cleaning the bowl, will ensure that your fish have a healthy environment to live in. Depending on the number of fish and type of filtration used, 10-20% weekly water changes are a good rule of thumb.

fishbowl setup

Enhancing Your Fish Bowl: Adding Aquarium Plants

A key element in creating a thriving fish bowl environment is the addition of aquarium plants. Not only do they add a touch of natural beauty to the bowl, but they also help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients, providing natural filtration, and producing oxygen for your fish.

When selecting plants for your fish bowl, it’s essential to choose species that thrive in low-light conditions and are well-suited for small spaces. Here are some popular aquarium plants that can enhance your fish bowl:

  • Java moss: This hardy, low-maintenance plant is perfect for fish bowls. It can be attached to rocks or driftwood, or simply left to float. Java moss provides shelter for small fish and helps control algae growth by competing for nutrients.
  • Anubias: Another low-light, slow-growing plant, Anubias is an excellent choice for fish bowls. It can be anchored to driftwood or rocks, ensuring it won’t take up valuable swimming space. Plus, its broad leaves provide hiding spots and resting places for your fish.
  • Marimo moss balls: These unique, round balls of algae require minimal care and grow very slowly, making them a great choice for fish bowls. They help remove nitrates from the water and can be an interesting addition to your aquatic environment.
  • Cryptocoryne: Resilient and adaptable, Cryptocoryne plants come in various shapes and sizes, which makes them ideal for fish bowls. They can tolerate low light and don’t require substrate, so they can be placed directly on the bottom of the bowl.

To help plants thrive in a fish bowl, consider adding a small amount of liquid aquatic plant fertilizer regularly, following the recommended dosage on the product’s label. Additionally, ensure the bowl receives indirect sunlight, as most aquarium plants flourish with natural light.

Incorporating aquarium plants in your fish bowl not only beautifies the space but also significantly contributes to a healthier environment for your fish. Choose plants that are well-suited to small and low-light habitats to create a harmonious and sustainable underwater world.

Debunking the Goldfish Myth: Is it Suitable in a Fish Bowl?

Goldfish have long been considered the classic choice for fish bowls. However, it’s time to debunk the myth that these charming fish are well-suited for such small, enclosed environments. In reality, goldfish require much more space, filtration, and oxygenation than a traditional fish bowl can provide.

keeping goldfish glass bowl

One common misconception is that goldfish remain small in a confined space. While their growth may slow or become stunted, goldfish are genetically programmed to grow and can reach significant sizes depending on their variety. For instance, fancy goldfish can grow up to 8 inches, while common goldfish can reach lengths of 12 inches or more.

Beyond their size, goldfish are also heavy waste producers. They generate large amounts of ammonia, which can be toxic in high concentrations. A fish bowl lacks the necessary filtration and water volume to dilute and process this waste, which can lead to poor water quality and stress or disease for the fish.

Additionally, goldfish require well-oxygenated water, which is difficult to achieve in a fish bowl. The lack of aeration and surface area limits the gas exchange, depriving goldfish of much-needed oxygen while trapping harmful carbon dioxide.

So, if not a goldfish, what are some better alternatives for a fish bowl?

  1. Betta fish: Known for their beauty and hardiness, betta fish can be a better option for fish bowls, provided the container holds at least 2 gallons of water and maintains stable water conditions.
  2. A small school of guppies: Guppies are small, active, and colorful fish that can be kept in groups. They require a minimum of 5 gallons of water, with proper filtration and regular water changes to ensure their well-being.
  3. Shrimps and snails: While not fish, these invertebrates can add life to your fish bowl without the need for substantial space. They also help keep the bowl clean by consuming algae and debris.

Goldfish are not the best choice for fish bowls due to their size, waste production, and oxygen requirements. Instead, opt for more suitable fish or invertebrates to create a healthy and happy underwater environment.

Filter Options for a Fish Bowl: Which One to Choose?

A crucial aspect of providing a healthy environment for your fish bowl inhabitants is ensuring proper filtration. Fish waste, uneaten food, and debris can degrade water quality and lead to health issues for your fish. Hence, choosing the right filter for your fish bowl is of utmost importance.

Filters for fish bowls should be compact, efficient, and provide both mechanical and biological filtration. Mechanical filtration removes physical debris, while biological filtration helps break down toxins. Here are some filter options to choose for your fish bowl:

  1. Sponge filters: Powered by an air pump, sponge filters are a popular choice for fish bowls due to their gentle water flow, simplicity, and affordability. They use a sponge to provide mechanical and biological filtration, collecting debris and housing beneficial bacteria that help break down waste products. Sponge filters are also safe for small fish, shrimps, or snails, as they do not produce strong currents or pose the risk of getting sucked into the filter.
  2. Corner or box filters: Another option for fish bowls is a corner or box filter. These small filters fit discreetly in the corner of the bowl, and they use a combination of sponge, filter floss, or ceramic media to provide mechanical and biological filtration. They are powered by an air pump and offer gentle water movement, making them suitable for small fish or invertebrates.
  3. Under-gravel filters: While not as common, under-gravel filters can be used in fish bowls to create a low-flow filtration system. These filters consist of a perforated plate that sits under the substrate, using the gravel itself as mechanical and biological filtration. Water is drawn through the gravel by an air pump, hosting beneficial bacteria that process the waste. Keep in mind that using an under-gravel filter may limit your substrate choices, as some materials are not suitable for this filtration method.

Choosing the appropriate filter for your fish bowl is essential in maintaining a healthy living environment for your aquatic pets. Opt for a compact and efficient filter system that provides both mechanical and biological filtration to ensure their well-being.

fishbowl water change

Maintaining Water Quality: Change Frequency and Tips

Proper water changes play a vital role in maintaining a healthy fish bowl environment. Keeping the water clean and free of toxins minimizes stress on your aquatic pets and reduces the risk of disease. Let’s explore the recommended frequency for water changes and some helpful tips to ensure the best water quality in your fish bowl.

Water Change Frequency

The rule of thumb for fish bowl water changes is to perform them weekly, replacing 10-20% of the water. This frequency can vary depending on several factors, such as the number of fish, type of filter, and overall water conditions.

  • If your fish bowl houses only one or two small fish, such as betta fish or guppies, a weekly 10-15% water change should suffice.
  • For more populated bowls, opt for a 20% water change each week to keep the environment clean and balanced.

Water Change Tips

  1. Use a gravel vacuum: Removing debris from the bottom of the bowl is just as important as replacing the water. A small gravel vacuum can help siphon waste and uneaten food, preventing the buildup of harmful substances.
  2. Temperature matching: When adding new water to the bowl, make sure it’s the same temperature as the existing water to avoid stressing the fish. Use a thermometer to ensure accuracy.
  3. Dechlorinate: Tap water often contains chlorine, which can be harmful to fish. Use a water conditioner to neutralize chlorine and other toxic elements before adding the new water.
  4. Monitor water parameters: Regularly check the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in your fish bowl. This can alert you to potential problems and help maintain optimal water conditions.
  5. Avoid overfeeding: Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality, as excess food breaks down and generates waste. Feed your fish sparingly and remove leftover food after each meal.

By performing regular water changes and adhering to these tips, you can effectively maintain water quality in your fish bowl and provide your aquatic pets with the healthy environment they need to thrive.

betta fishbowl

Caring for Fish in a Bowl: Basic Tips and Techniques

Successfully caring for fish in a bowl involves more than just providing food and clean water. Creating a comfortable, healthy environment and fostering natural behaviors contribute to your aquatic pets’ overall well-being. Here, we present several basic tips and techniques to ensure optimal care for your fish in a bowl.

  • Maintain a consistent water temperature: Fish are sensitive to sudden temperature changes, which can cause stress and harm their immune system. Place your fish bowl in an area away from direct sunlight or cold drafts, and use a heater to maintain a stable water temperature appropriate for your fish species.
  • Provide hiding spots and décor: Fish naturally seek shelter or hiding spots to feel safe and secure. Including decorations such as plants, rocks, or small ornaments can create a more enriched environment and alleviate stress.
  • Observe and learn: Regularly observing your fish can help identify any unusual behaviors or signs of illness. Any changes in swimming patterns, eating habits, or appearance should be promptly addressed, as early detection of problems can make treatment more effective.
  • Proper feeding: Feed your fish a varied and balanced diet, including high-quality flakes or pellets, as well as occasional treats such as freeze-dried or live foods. Be cautious not to overfeed, and remove any uneaten food to maintain water quality.
  • Avoid overcrowding: Adding too many fish to a bowl increases stress on the inhabitants and may lead to aggression, disease, or reduced lifespan. Ensure ample swimming space and adequate water volume, based on the specific needs of the fish species you plan to keep.
  • Establish a routine: Creating a schedule for feeding, water changes, and maintenance tasks makes it easier to care for your fish and ensures their needs are consistently met.

By adhering to these basic tips and techniques, you can create a comfortable, nurturing environment for your fish bowl inhabitants, promoting their overall health and happiness.


Choosing the right fish for your fish bowl is essential for creating a thriving environment. With this ultimate guide under your belt, the journey of finding the perfect fish has never been easier. Dive in and explore the wonderful world of fish-keeping! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Questions and Answers

Ketan Kumta March 8, 2021 Reply

Have 14 inch ocean view decorative glass fish shape bowl
Don’t have any idea abt fish and how to pet them, but now want to keep it in my house
Can u pls guide me how shall I start with
And wat is ideal place to keep the fish bowl
How many fish to keep which ones
How to change water, feeding them
Do I need filter or any pump
Or only water is enough
Pls explain , thanks

the only thing that should be in a fish bowl is lots and lots of plants and snails/shrimps. Bettas and any fish suffer for their short life and die a painful death. Stunting a goldfish’s growth is cruel and you are killing living animals by putting them in tiny containers.

fish lover July 19, 2022 Reply

unless your bowl is over 9 gallons you really shouldn’t be putting any fish in it

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