Unfortunately, fish bowls are antiquated technology still for sale on your pet store shelf today. It’s an idealized image handed down from Disney movies in our childhoods. Who doesn’t like the cozy image of a happy fish swimming around its bowl? Sorry to tell you that fish bowls are awful for fish. Fish kept as pets need more than a stagnant bowl to live happy, healthy lives. Even if your fish has been “perfectly fine and healthy for years in its bowl,” I guarantee it would thrive in a tank with filtration.
Imagine yourself living inside a clear, sealed box. It’s bare except for a chair. No restroom or showering facilities. No air circulation either. Food is delivered through a shoot daily. Once a week, maybe once every other week, housekeeping comes in and cleans up most of your waste, any leftovers and lets fresh air in. And that’s it until the next time they dain to show up. And you will live like this for 4-5 years if you’re lucky.
Sure, you’d probably be okay. You’d live, but you’d be miserable.
It’s the exact same for a fish living in a bowl.
No circulation, limited housecleaning with no facilities.
Let’s put you in a roomy tank. Automatically, there’s more air to breathe than in the confines of your tiny bowl. You can get some exercise wandering about.
Adding a filter is the biggest change of all. The filter sucks up your waste and converts it into a compound that does not irritate you. It provides fresh air. You are significantly better off only having two major changes in your life.
Rather than a giant flush of fresh air every so often, once a week, a little bit of the old air is let out and new air comes in. Some of the excess waste gets removed. This is the equivalent of doing small water changes using a gravel siphon in your tank.
So, where would you rather live? In the claustrophobic trash dump with human waste all over and limited air to breathe? Or in the roomy, breathable, tidy room with extra space?
I think your fish would rather have the same. Surviving is not living. Allow your fish to thrive. #banthebowl
P.S. “But my betta fish is adapted to live in small puddles when the tides wash out! A bowl is perfect for him!” This is a survival mechanism for short-term survival, not a life plan. Bettas don’t deserve a bowl more than any other fish. For more info on betta fish, see our betta page.