Because fish bowls, vases and other small containers are not a good home for fish, you may have a few lying around being used as a candy bowl or decorative piece. If you’re looking for something new and aquarium-related to try, setting up a planted aquarium bowl may be a good idea! The lush green plants (and possibly snails or dwarf shrimp) make a great centerpiece and are super interesting to look at. Keep reading for everything you need to know about turning a bowl, vase or tiny tank into aquarium plant heaven!
Note: if you found this article while looking for plant ideas for a goldfish or betta bowl, please have a look at why goldfish bowls should be banned and why betta bowls are bad.
Although some gardeners choose to add a small sponge filter, a plant bowl is a small, usually unfiltered, unheated and very densely planted version of an aquarium. A planted bowl doesn’t contain any fish and is more of a little indoor garden than a fish tank. They are simple and don’t require as much maintance as a real aquarium, which makes them great for both fishkeepers and people who are more interested in regular gardening. You don’t actually have to use a bowl; this post contains more information about a planted beverage dispenser, so think out of the box!
The plants in a planted bowl or vase act as a natural filter and if you keep live shrimp or snails they will keep each other in balance. This is called the Walstad method after Diana Walstad, who wrote a much more extensive book about this called Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. It contains more in depth information about how a balance is achieved and is a very interesting read for any fishkeeper!
Setting up your own planted aquarium bowl is not too difficult nor expensive! In fact, you may have all the materials you need already lying around.
- A container of at least 1 gallon. If you don’t want to support manufacturers of fish bowls, you can get a large vase or jar like this cookie jar.