Whether you’re new to keeping a tank or want to put together a small aquascape that doesn’t require a ton of work or expensive equipment, keeping fish in a bowl without a filter is a great way to get started.
Fishbowls are incredibly easy to set up and relatively easy to maintain. They require a minimal amount of space but can add a dramatic flair to your space.
On top of this, they are a great way to help you slow down and enjoy the fun of keeping fish in a small space with a low budget.Before you start setting up your bowl, though, you need first to spend time thinking about the types of fish that can live in a small bowl and still thrive in the ecosystem.
8 Best Fish That Can Live In A Small Bowl
Below is a list of the most common species of fish that can live in a bowl without a filter.
Pay attention to their requirements. Some require specific water temperature ranges, while others require a particular pH level to thrive.Some are relatively low maintenance fish while others prefer living alone and can become incredibly high maintenance if you add the wrong species into their environment.
White Cloud Minnow
Blind Cave Tetras
Zebra Danios, while not the most popular species to keep, are still a relatively easy fish to keep in a bowl. They are a smaller fish, growing up to 2 inches in size once they reach maturity. Their body is a long shape with combinations of blue and silver stripes, giving them the “Zebra” name.
Zebra Danios can live in colder temperatures, as low as 64 degrees without much hassle, and warmer temperatures in the 74-degree range. Danios prefer to live in a stable ecosystem with a pH level ranging between 6.5 and 7.0.
They are a non-aggressive species that prefer to be kept in multiples. Adding between 4 to 6 total Danios is not unheard of. You do want to keep them away from aggressive species, though. Their docile nature makes them targets for more aggressive fish.
Paradise Fish or Acropodus opercularis as they’re sometimes referred to are another great species to keep in a bowl without added oxygen and filters.
The fish have longer cigar-shaped bodies. They are larger than Danios but still considered a “compact” species.
Growing up to 4 inches long when they reach maturity, the most significant distinctive factor in Paradise Fish is their fan-shaped fins.
Paradise Fish prefer water temperatures ranging from 61 degrees at the lower end to 79 degrees at the higher end, and a pH level ranging between 5.8 to 8.0.Those ranges make these a common fish to keep because you do not spend much time maintaining their ecosystem. Other species are more fickle about their environment.
White Cloud Minnows are another cool species to keep and admire in a tank without a filter or added oxygen. They are commonly referred to as Tanichthys micagemmae, as confusing as that may seem.
White Cloud Minnows can grow up to 1.5 inches in length when they reach full maturity. They prefer water temperatures in the 60 degrees to 80-degree range, making them easy to keep and maintain. The species will thrive in pH levels ranging from 6.0 to 8.0 but cannot handle rapid swings in levels or water temperatures.These Minnows are another relatively docile species. They spend their days in and around your aquatic vegetation and do not show aggression towards other species. Keeping them in schools or pods of 4 to 6 fish is recommended.
The Platy Variatus, or Platypaecilus varitus, is a species that originated in Eastern Mexico but quickly found their way into desktop tanks around the world.
There are two main color combinations. Female Platys have a brownish-green color while males will have more varied colors, ranging from yellows, blues, greens, and reds. When a Platy reaches full maturity, they’ll grow to around 2 inches in length.
Platys prefer to live in the water around 75 degrees but can tolerate temperatures as low as 68 degrees and as high as 80 degrees. They are considered a “tropical” species and will need a pH level of around 6.8 to thrive.Like other species on our list, Platys are a non-aggressive species and aren’t known for attacking their tankmates. Keeping them in small schools of 3 to 6 fish is common to do.
Pepper Cory Catfish are another incredibly hardy species that can thrive in ecosystems that are relatively low on oxygen. Their scientific name is Corydoras paleatus. Cory Catfish have a cigar-shaped body that is light brown covered in darker brown spots.
Males will typically grow to around 2.5 inches long at full maturity while females are larger and can grow to upwards of 3 inches in length once full-grown.Cory Catfish, being incredibly hardy, can survive in a wide range of conditions. The Cats prefer to live in water temperatures ranging from 72 to 78 degrees, making them a “tropical” species of freshwater fish. The fish prefer a slightly more acidic environment, though, thriving in water conditions ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 pH levels.
Blind Cave Tetras are, as the name implies, virtually blind. They have evolved with minimally developed, almost non-existent eyes. This means they are primarily relying on their olfactory senses to help locate their food sources.
Blind Tetras are usually found with silver bodies and a slight pinkish appearance. At full maturity, Blind Tetras can grow to around 4 inches in length.
While they are a tropical species, they do tend to prefer colder, darker ecosystems. Blind Cave Tetras thrive in an environment that ranges from 68 degrees to 77 degrees with a pH range of 6.5 to 8.0 and minimal fluctuations.Because they have evolved with minimal eyesight, these fish are incredibly docile. You do not want to put them in with more aggressive species because they quickly become targets, become stressed out, and the stress will eventually kill them.
Betta Fish, or Siamese Fighting Fish, is one of the most aggressive species of fish you can keep in a bowl that we have featured on our list. It is recommended to keep them by themselves.
Keeping more than one Betta together creates one of two scenarios: they either breed like rabbits, or they will attack each other until a winner emerges. When you are keeping them in a small bowl, both situations create nightmare scenarios.
Bettas can grow to around 3 inches in length, and they prefer warmer waters. You will want to keep their water in the 74-degree to 82-degree range with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5.
You can find Bettas in a wide range of colors with the most common colors being reds and blues, greys and silvers. The females are smaller in size with the males having more decorative fins.
Goldfish are the most common type of fish to keep in a bowl without a filter and supplemented oxygen. It is worth noting that, while Goldfish can thrive in a bowl, their growth is going to be limited to the size they have available.
In a larger tank, your Goldfish can grow to incredible sizes. However, in smaller bowls and one or 2-gallon tanks, the fish will stay in the 2 to 3-inch range. In larger tanks, they can grow upwards to 2 feet in length.Goldfish are considered a subtropical species and prefer water temperatures in the 68-degree to 74-degree range with water quality levels in the 7.0 to 8.4 pH range. They are a non-aggressive species that can be kept in schools of 3 to 6 fish relatively easily.
How To Add Oxygen To A Fish Bowl
Even though every fish we have featured on our list can thrive without an additional oxygen source, there are times when you want to add oxygen to the bowl without breaking the bank.There are a few specialized kits available to help you oxygenate the water and filter it out as the water moves through your pump. This can make maintaining the bowl significantly easier.
Saving space and not creating a bunch of external noise are the two main requirements when you’re trying to oxygenate your fishbowl.
You need a pump that can filter water through to help lower your maintenance routine and give your fish an environment they can thrive in.
The Mylivell Aquarium Pump & Air Stone fits both of these bills perfectly.The air stone and pump are incredibly quiet, operating nearly silently, and it doesn’t consume a ton of power. The pump has been optimized to work well in smaller tanks and bowls and designed to fit without taking up a ton of space.
What Are The Best Fish For A Bowl Without A Filter?
This is a personal choice, left entirely up to what you want from your bowl.
You do want to take some time to plan out the fish you’re going to add to the bowl, though.
Some prefer warmer temperatures and higher pH levels, while others can thrive in lower temperatures and lower pH levels. Then, some fish do well with tankmates while others, like the Betta, that are too aggressive to keep more than 1 in the bowl at a time.
The most significant rule you can follow is not to overcrowd the space with too many fish. Overcrowding causes stress, increases your maintenance levels, and can become more frustration than it is worth.Focus instead of maximizing the space you have available to create an ecosystem that helps calm you and adds to your decorative flair, and keeping fish in a bowl will become fun to do!
Affiliate links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2021-02-25.
Top Editor's Choice on Fish For A Bowl
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest tips and news of our blog.