If you are a beginner in pet fish keeping, opting for a goldfish is the right way to go. They are affordable and their small structure allows them to be kept in a bowl. With the proper maintenance and nurturing, your fish can live inside a bowl in the same way it’d have inside a fish tank. 

Goldfish can live in a bowl with or without an air pump. The air pump circulates and aerates the water. Without it, you should change 50-75% of the water daily to get rid of the dirt in it. Plants clean the water too. For the goldfish bowl size, you need 1 gallon of water for each goldfish.

However, poor maintenance can lead to diseases, discomfort, and overall reduction of your goldfish’s lifespan. These pets can live for as long as a decade in the right living conditions, but only last a few months or less in poor conditions. 

Can goldfish live in a bowl?

Yes. A goldfish can survive in a bowl, but only if specific conditions are met. Small fish like Fiddlers and goldfish do great in bowls that can hold as little as 3-5 gallons. However, you will be required to change the water frequently for proper sanitation. Goldfish produce a lot of ammonia waste every day, making small bowls get dirty quickly.

If you want to get started with an adult goldfish, ensure you invest in a bigger bowl that can hold a capacity of at least 10 gallons. This gives you space to continue with your tight schedule without worrying about daily water changes. Below are some criteria to follow to ensure your goldfish lives a long healthy life. 

How to take care of a goldfish in a bowl

Goldfish living in bowls require high maintenance which is a bit different from general goldfish care. Before getting started, you must consider factors such as the bowl size, how to clean the bowl, and how to feed a goldfish in a bowl. 

Bowl size1 gallon per goldfish
Oxygen Water agitation and wide bowls
Plantation Live fish-friendly aquatic plants
Bowl cleaning50-75% water exchange, di-chlorination, hydrogen peroxide (for algae), and aquarium salts (optional)
Feeding Omnivorous diet (worms and algae)

Maintaining the recommended water parameters and living conditions in the bowl maximizes the lifespan of your fish and keeps it away from infections. 

Size of the bowl for goldfish

The number and size of your goldfish determine the bowl type to buy. Infant goldfish are easy to maintain and keep in a small bowl, but they grow as you continue feeding them and may outgrow a bowl within a few months. When this happens, you’ll be forced to get a tank or a bigger bowl. The recommended size of a goldfish tank should be 20 gallons.

If you are a beginner getting access to a 20 gallons bowl might seem too much, especially if you have more than one young goldfish. It’s advisable to consider having one gallon of water for every goldfish in the bowl. Go for bowls that can hold a large capacity of water, depending on the size of your shoal.

When selecting the bowl size, you must also consider the following factors:

  • Oxygen Levels

Oxygen levels inside the bowl reduce as the number of goldfish increases. The more fish you have in the bowl, the lower the oxygen levels because each fish is taking in their share. Ensure you add an air pump in the bowl to agitate the water’s surface. The air bubbles produced allow surface agitation, drawing more oxygen into the tank.

Another way of ensuring the oxygen levels in your goldfish tank is enough is by purchasing wide bowls instead of long narrow ones. A wider bowl has a larger surface area which means more oxygen is produced in water. Do not fill water up to the brim to increase the surface area.                   

  • Plantation

Adding plants in your goldfish bowl decorates it and creates an open water body ambiance improving the living conditions. Avoid fake plants as they do not add any value to the goldfish. Live plants ensure a supply of oxygen in the water and consume fish waste products that make them grow. Plants you can use include java fern and anubias species which require minimal maintenance and are easy to grow. Betta fish can live with goldfish and these plants are common to both fish types.

How to clean a goldfish bowl

As mentioned above, going for a small bowl requires you to change the water constantly. You can reduce extra ammonia production from the fish by limiting feeding and avoiding overstocking.

Cleaning is essential whether you have a small bowl or a 20-gallon capacity tank. Below are easy steps to follow for effective cleaning of your goldfish’s bowl:

  1. Start by pouring out half of the water or 75% of it into a separate container before replacing it with clean water. You must remove the fish from the bowl and place them in a separate container before starting this process.
  2. Make the water chlorine-free by adding a few drops of a di-chlorinator. If the bowl is too dirty, you can scrub off excess algae with a piece of rug. Do not use any detergent or cleaning agent.
  3. After refilling the bowl with fresh chlorine-free water, pour in the fish and ensure that the temperature of the replaced water is the same as the previous one that contained the fish during cleaning.
  4. You can also add aquarium salt according to instructions in the container. These salts are made through the evaporation of seawater making them healthy for your goldfish. You can access it in a pet shop near you.

If your goldfish bowl has an algae problem, use hydrogen peroxide as an antiseptic after cleaning. Your goldfish will be safe after 24 hours of the sterilization process since hydrogen peroxide decomposes in water releasing hydrogen and oxygen. 

Sterilize aquarium accessories by adding a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to water. Use this solution to clean your bowl while your goldfish is in a separate bowl.

How to feed goldfish in a bowl

Goldfish are omnivorous, meaning they feed in both plants and animals. However, they mainly feed on plants and should not be provided animal products alone. Most goldfish keepers settle on one type of fish food brand, and they work well for them. There are plants that are poisonous to fish such as goldfish and bettas and should be avoided to protect the fish.

It is advisable to mix different diets as this will help boost the immune system of the goldfish and allow it to achieve a balanced diet.

Feed your goldfish animals such as worms like the Blood worms and Tubifex worms. Incorporate that diet with plants such as algae. All these foods are processed either as dry foods, frozen, freeze-dried, or live supplements. This gives you a wide variety of choices to keep your goldfish adequately fed.

Avoid overfeeding your goldfish since they are cold-blooded and do not require a lot of food every day. Cold-blooded animals do not rely on food to give them energy compared to their fellow warm-blooded counterparts. Overfeeding causes health problems such as constipation, swim bladder, and, at the worst, burst intestines.

Feed your goldfish as much as it requires within two to three minutes. Be careful as you do that since goldfish are opportunistic scavengers and will continue to eat as long as they are provided with food, so chances of overfeeding are high.

Giving a lot of food to your goldfish doesn’t mean they’ll grow faster. Their growth rate reduces when hungry and continue after feeding. To ensure effective growth, maintain proper sanitation of the bowl and invest in a bigger space for your goldfish to swim in.


Go for the biggest bowl you can afford since a small bowl causes stunted growth among goldfish. They require extra space to grow and swim around. A bigger bowl reduces stress and the dangers of poisoning from the saturation of waste products. You must also maintain hygiene and balanced water parameters in the bowl to ensure maximum comfort for your goldfish.


University of Florida. Gold Rush.

The Pennsylvania State University. The Sad Life of a Goldfish.

The Ohio State University. Fish Basics.

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