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Is It Okay for Fish to Live in Bowls?


Imagine you are trapped in a cramped glass bowl, a SpongeBob decoration acting as your only entertainment. You can’t see the outside world; everything is distorted due to the curved glass. Many people believe that fish, especially bettas and goldfish, can be kept in small containers such as bowls and vases; however, there are many things wrong with this practice. 

First of all, in a small container, feces and excess food can easily build up, causing ammonia poisoning. This occurs when ammonia levels become high enough to burn your fish’s gills and eventually prevent them from breathing, killing the fish in a matter of weeks or even days. This problem can be avoided with the addition of a filter, though you need a large tank to use one. 

Another problem with keeping fish in bowls is the lack of a heater; betta fish, like other tropical fish, need a heater to thrive. Bettas are incredibly hardy and resilient, so many people overlook the need for such a necessity. Goldfish, however, don’t need a heater; in fact, most goldfish prefer temperatures around 70℉. 

Why do people think these fish can live inside bowls? When goldfish are kept in compact environments for an extended time, they become stunted, meaning they can no longer grow to their adult size. Therefore, many people believe goldfish can “adapt” to living in a bowl or vase. In reality, a stunted goldfish doesn’t live as long as a healthy one. If kept properly, goldfish can live up to 20 years.

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Betta fish face a similar situation. In the wild, they reside in rice paddies in Asia – shallow pools or marshes with plant roots growing into the water. Even though these pools aren’t as small as you may think, people are under the assumption that because bettas live in these pools in the wild, they are comfortable in small environments when kept in captivity. This claim is false; your betta should be able to live in a filtered, clean, tank that is at least five gallons. 

The solution to accidental fish mistreatment is as simple as doing research. Just like any other pet, keeping a fish requires a substantial amount of preparation. Next time you think about setting up a fish tank, ask yourself: Would I want to live in this tank?


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