Keeping Betta fish in a bowl

March 5, 2017
Aquatic Vase or Bowl

Minerva's Fish Bowl
Note that the gravel in this fish bowl looks like it's about 1" thick. We would recommend removing most of the gravel until it's only about 1/4" thick. Thanks Minerva, for sharing this picture of your beautiful fish bowl with us.

By the way, Minerva read these comments and sent an email back saying that she'd removed most of the gravel and now has a layer of gravel about 1/4" thick, just like we recommend.

Click here to listen to a Special Show titled "Fish Bowls", an MP3 PodCast, hosted by the Bailey Brothers on Pet Fish Talk.

A Philosophy of Fish Bowls?
During their first few years in the hobby many aquarists grow to like bigger aquariums, and distain fish bowls. They exalt, "Bigger is Better!", and they are critical of small aquariums and fish bowls. They say that fish bowls are cruel and not fit for any fish. But this is not true.

We have had Bettas live long and successful lives in fish bowls. So if you'd like to start with a fish bowl, don't be intimidated into thinking something is wrong with fish bowls.

One day I got a particularly strident and overbearing email from C.C., a self-proclaimed "animal lover", who decried all fish bowls. We exchanged several emails, and I learned that C.C. had started in the fish hobby about 2 years before with a fish bowl and had made lots of mistakes mostly due to a lack of information.

C.C. replaced the fish bowl with an aquarium, and then a bigger aquarium, and finally with a 60-gallon aquarium. Now C.C. advocated nothing smaller than 60-gallon aquariums for everyone who keeps fish.

C.C. was well intentioned, I believe, but misguided. Many people don't want a 60-gallon aquarium. They don't have the space, or the time, or the money. But they would like to try a fish bowl.

picture of a large fish bowl. We hope they won't get a tiny 1-quart bowl. That is too small. Get at least a 1-gallon bowl like the one sold in most stores that sell pet fish, or even better the 1.5-gallon fish bowl available from us.

Bigger is not always better. I've noticed that many of the really experienced aquarists, the people who have kept fish for 20 or 30 years and longer, keep fish in fish bowls and small aquariums. They may have big aquariums too, but they eventually come to enjoy all sizes of fish homes.

Many people's lives would be enriched with a nice simple fish bowl with some useful information about how to take care of it, and that is what we're trying to provide.

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I'm sort of confused. In your fish bowl info. page, you mentioned that even if tap water is treated with water conditoner, it still won't be safe. You recommended that bottled water be used.
Later on however, in your 'Making Bottled water' section, you said we could make our own bottled water by adding water conditioner. Can we treat water with conditioner or not?
Hi Hi
Reply.Hello Hi Hi. The key is that you must leave the tap water in the bottle with the water conditioner for at least three days, before you add the water from the bottle to your fish bowl.

This will give the Water Conditioner enough time to react with the chemicals in the tap water and to neutralize those chemicals, before you add the water to your fish bowl.

face="Georgia, Times, Georgia, Times, Times New Roman, serif"> face="Georgia, Times, Georgia, Times, Times New Roman, serif">Is it safe to use softened water to fill beta fish bowls?
One faucet is well water, and I have been using that, letting it stand for a day before replacing in bowl.
So far fish is healthy, 2 months sine we brought him home. But which water is better?
Barbara E. face="Georgia, Times, Georgia, Times, Times New Roman, serif">
Reply. Hello Barbara. A water softener is a piece of equipment that replaces calcium and magnesium salts with sodium salts. It is difficult to say whether the well-water or the softened well-water is better for Betta Fish. Either type of water may be OK for keeping Betta.

Well water varies a lot, and you should be very cautious about using it. Ask other aquarists in your area about their experiences using local well water. People with wells often have the water tested. I understand iron can be a problem for fish and for people.

Change at most 20% of the water in a day. Changing more than 20% is risky for all fish. I use 1.5-gallon fish bowls with 5 quarts of water for my Bettas, and I change one quart of water about twice a week.

My tap water is very hard, so I mix about 1 part of my tap water with 4 or 5 parts of water from my Reverse Osmosis filter. You could use bottled drinking water, or mix bottled drinking with water with de-ionized water, which is available in many stores.

But do not use straight de-ionized water, because it has all the minerals removed and this may not be good for Betta fish.

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