A fishbowl has gained the reputation of being a death sentence for fish and a symbol of cruelty on fish keeping. Keeping a fish inside a fishbowl is not for a beginner in the hobby. Let’s discuss how long can a betta fish live in a fishbowl below!
Can betta fish live in a fishbowl?
Betta fish have evolved in such a way that they can gulp air from the water’s surface and absorb the oxygen through their labyrinth organ. This evolutionary organ has allowed betta fish to survive drought season during the hot summer months in the tropical country of Thailand in Southeast Asia. Water levels decrease and betta fish can survive minimal amounts of water as long as they don’t dry out. They can also jump from one puddle to another.
This led to the idea that betta fish can live in little amounts of water such as in a bowl or in a vase. This is just a survival mechanism for the betta fish during the dry season. As the rains come during the wet season, the betta regains the environment with continuous water renewed and lush vegetation around. Remember that surviving differs from thriving.
How long can a betta fish live in a fishbowl?
A betta fish bred in captivity will usually live between 3 to 5 years. Placing it in a small bowl will shorten its life expectancy because it will not get the optimal environment it needs.
A common fishbowl will usually contain a water volume fewer than 5 gallons. 5 gallons is the recommended minimum for a single betta fish. A 5-gallon tank can easily provide this.
Betta fish need a temperature range between 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 to 27 degrees Celsius. Unless you live in a tropical country, then this will be difficult to achieve when using a small bowl. There are small heaters that you can use for 1-gallon bowls but the small water volume will always lead to temperature fluctuations making your heater work more. A 5-gallon tank can have an aquarium heater to keep the temperature constant.
Water parameters easily fluctuate in less water volume. Ammonia easily increases as uneaten food and fish waste accumulate. A tank with a larger water capacity will have few water parameter fluctuations. A terrible water condition will make your betta fish more prone to disease. Avoid overfeeding because this will speed up the accumulation of ammonia.
The betta fish is a territorial creature and will continuously patrol its territory. Keeping it in a small bowl will not let much swimming room and this will not give your betta fish enough exercise. A larger tank will let exploration and lots of swimming space.
If you still keep your betta fish in small containers such as fishbowls and plant vases then it will be your responsibility to put in more work to keep the water conditions as optimal as possible.
Can betta fish live in a bowl without a filter?
A betta fish can live in a bowl without a filter. The purpose of a filter is to let more surface area for bacteria to grow on. These bacteria will convert toxic ammonia to less toxic nitrites and to even less toxic nitrates. The filter will also collect solid waste particles such as uneaten food and fish poop.
A filter will make your maintenance work less frequent. If you will give constant effort in keeping your betta fish’s home as clean as possible every day then you can keep your betta fish in a fishbowl. Be sure to always remove uneaten food and fish wastes.
How often should I clean betta fish bowl?
An unfiltered bowl will require daily removal of uneaten food and fish waste to avoid any ammonia spikes. Remove the fish poop and uneaten food using a small water siphon. Remove around 20-25% of the water and replace it with water treated with a water conditioner.
You can clean a filtered bowl every 3 to 5 days. We recommend partial water changes of 25-30% every 3 to 5 days for a filtered bowl. Use a small water siphon to remove any visible fish waste on the bottom of the fishbowl or on the gravel. Replace with water treated with a water conditioner.
The best filter to use for a fishbowl would be a tiny sponge filter that is air driven. It should not create so much turbulence in the water. Too much flow will blow and exhaust your betta fish around the bowl. This will continuously stress out your fish and may lead to its death.
Clean the filter once a month. Prepare a bucket of dechlorinated water. Remove the sponge and dunk it into the bucket of dechlorinated water. Squeeze out as much debris as you can. Once the water you are squeezing out from the sponge is fairly clear, then you can reinstall it into the fishbowl.
Is it cruel to keep a fish in a bowl?
If your fishbowl is at least 5 gallons, then it won’t be as cruel as keeping your betta fish in a 1-gallon bowl. Remember that more water volume is always welcome in keeping fish. This will lessen the chances of exposing your betta fish to sudden fluctuations of water parameters that can lead to stress, disease, and eventually death.
Neglecting your fish’s health and the water conditions in its home is cruel, so if you keep your betta fish in a small container then expect to do more work.
What if we can make a compromise? A bowl with the volume good enough for a single betta fish is available. The biOrb Silver Aquarium Kit with Light is a compromise to consider if you really want to have a fishbowl while also providing the needs of your betta fish. It has a built-in filter, a light that is not too intense for betta fish, and its 8 Gallons/30 Liters capacity is a superb choice for a single betta. A heater does not come with the kit and you need to purchase it separately.
Remember that surviving in small containers isn’t actually a happy life for a betta fish. Thriving in a well thought out home will give your betta more chances of living its life for as long as it can.