A vibrant betta fish swims gracefully in a decorative fishbowl.

The Best Fish For Solo Living In A Bowl: A Comprehensive Guide

Small Aquarium Fish For Beginners


Starting a fish tank adventure can be daunting, especially if you’re tight on space or prefer the simplicity of a fishbowl. Betta fish are well-known for their resilience in bowl living conditions.

Our guide is designed to make your journey easier by revealing which fish will flourish with minimal equipment and care. We focus on introducing the ideal candidates for small tank environments, perfect for novice aquarists. Discover how to bring underwater life into your home effortlessly.

SUMMARY: Fish For Solo Living In A Bowl

  • Betta fish, guppies, white cloud minnows, blind cave tetras, salt and pepper corydoras, zebra danios, ember tetras, pea pufferfish, six-ray corydoras and scarlet badis are ideal for living in a bowl without a filter.
  • Consider hardy and small fish species like bettas or guppies for bowls without a filter; they can thrive if water quality is maintained and there isn’t overcrowding
  • When choosing fish for a bowl without a filter: consider cold-water species like Sunset Variatus Platy or Cherry Shrimp; ensure the bowl is large enough to accommodate the specific needs of the chosen fish species; plan for frequent water changes to maintain a healthy environment.

Fish That Can Be Kept In A Bowl Without A Filter

Betta Fish

vibrant red betta fish in a small aquarium

Betta fish are colorful pets that can live in a small space like a bowl. Many people think they don’t need much to be happy, but this isn’t true. They really should have at least 3 gallons of water to swim in.

heater keeps their water warm and a filter cleans it, which makes them healthier.

These fish come from warm waters and do best when their home feels like the place they’re from. Even though some keep Bettas without these things, the fish won’t be as lively or bright.

To take good care of your Betta, change the water often so they stay clean and healthy. Make sure you get everything ready for your new friend before bringing them home!


colorful guppy fish that is suitable for small aquarium

Moving from the graceful Betta, let’s swim over to the world of guppies. These small and colorful fish are a popular choice for new aquarium enthusiasts. Guppies are peaceful and easy-going, making them perfect for living in bowls without filters.

They come from freshwater streams but can also handle slightly salty water.

Guppies have many colors and patterns which makes them fun to watch as they move around their bowl. They’re a hardy bunch, often recommended for those just starting out with aquatic pets.

Keep in mind that while they can do okay without a filter, it’s better to provide one if you want them to be truly healthy and happy in their home.

White Cloud Minnows

White cloud minnows showing off its beautiful reddish tail

Just like guppies, white cloud minnows are a smart choice for living in a fish bowl without a filter. These little swimmers are tough and don’t need much work to look after them. They get along well with others and won’t make trouble in your bowl.

White cloud minnows have bright, shiny scales that catch your eye. They love moving around and will keep you entertained as they zip back and forth.

Keeping these fish is simple even for beginners. You can put them in small spaces or let them swim outside when it’s warm enough. Their lively nature makes them fun pets to watch every day.

With their colorful looks and easy-going attitude, white cloud minnows make any fish bowl more joyful.

Blind Cave Tetras

No eye blind cave tetra swimming in a black themed aquarium

The blind cave tetra is a freshwater fish from Mexico. It’s unique because it has no eyes, making it interesting to keep in an aquarium. Their skin is covered with scales arranged head-to-tail, giving them protection.

Found in clear water with rocks, they are suitable for bowl setups without needing a filter. They can adapt to different water conditions and are hardy enough to be kept in a bowl without a filter.

Caring for blind cave tetras includes attention to their needs such as feeding, breeding, and care that differ from other fish species. Understanding their specific requirements will help create the right environment for these fascinating creatures.

Salt and Pepper Corydoras

Small catfish type named salt and pepper corydoras swimming at the bottom of the aquarium

Moving on from the blind cave tetras, let’s explore the salt and pepper corydoras. These peaceful schooling fish are perfect for a bowl without a filter. When fully grown, they reach about 1.4 inches in length, making them an ideal choice for solo living in a bowl.

The salt and pepper corydoras, also known as Corydoras habrosus, are known for their friendly nature and peaceful demeanor even during mating times. These small catfish species add charm to any aquarium with their easy-going temperament and gorgeous appearance.

They thrive in schools and can create a delightful underwater atmosphere in your aquatic haven while not requiring a filter for their tank setup.

Zebra Danios

tropical freshwater fish zebra Danios enjoying aquarium waters

Zebra Danios are small, tropical freshwater fish originating from Southern Asia. They are known for their peaceful nature and can easily coexist with various tankmates. These social creatures are favored by aquarists due to their ease of care and their compatibility with other species.

Zebra danios thrive in groups, and it’s recommended to keep at least three together in a bowl to ensure their well-being. Their active behavior adds liveliness to the aquarium, making them an excellent choice for nano tanks or small bowls.

As one of the best fish for breeding in a bowl, zebra danios make a delightful addition for aquatic enthusiasts seeking low-maintenance yet visually appealing companions. They contribute to creating a dynamic underwater environment while requiring minimal care and little fuss.

Ember Tetra

Moving on from the lively Zebra Danios, let’s delve into the captivating world of Ember Tetras. These small freshwater fish are a vibrant addition to any aquarium with their eye-catching flame coloration.

Originating from the Araguaia River basin in Brazil, Ember Tetras are part of the characin family and thrive in peaceful community setups. Being shoaling fish, they enjoy being surrounded by their kind and exhibit calm and peaceful behavior.

As omnivores, they can survive without a filter but require stable and consistent water conditions for optimal health. Additionally, these tropical fish do best when kept in a small school and cohabit well with similarly sized peaceful tank mates.

Pea Pufferfish

pufferfish enjoying the pebbles in the aquarium

Moving from the tiny and vibrant Ember Tetra, let’s turn our attention to the unique Pea Pufferfish. These small puffers are known for their feisty nature and inquisitive personality.

With a lifespan of around 4 years, these little fish require special care due to their territorial behavior and specific dietary needs. Interestingly, they have independent control over each eye and prefer well-planted tanks with places to explore, hide, and establish territories.

Pea Pufferfish thrive in freshwater environments but require good filtration with gentle flow; strong currents can be challenging for them due to their limited swimming abilities. It’s essential to provide them with live or frozen meaty foods such as bloodworms and snails as they are carnivorous eaters.

Six-ray Corydoras

peaceful six-ray corydoras swimming in the aquarium stones

Six-ray corydoras are friendly fish that enjoy the company of peaceful species like tetras and guppies. They are also part of the hardy and peaceful group, making them a great fit for solo living in a bowl.

These social fish won’t harass their tank mates, ensuring a harmonious coexistence. With their charming behavior and ability to get along well with others, six-ray corydoras can bring life to your bowl without the need for a filter.

These small-sized catfish can thrive in bowls without filters due to their resilient nature. Their social behavior makes them an excellent choice if you’re looking for a low-maintenance aquatic companion that adds vibrancy to your living space.

With their compatibility and easy care requirements, six-ray corydoras are an ideal nano fish option for creating an engaging aquatic environment within the confines of a bowl.

Scarlet Badis

Beautiful scarlet badis swmming in the middle part of the aquarium with waterlilies at the top

The Scarlet Badis is a small freshwater fish from India, specifically the Brahmaputra River. This peaceful fish prefers dense vegetation in river tributaries and can be territorial, especially during breeding.

The males are particularly aggressive towards each other as they claim small territories. With its origins in Indian waters and its preference for dense vegetation, this tiny but fascinating fish could make an intriguing addition to your solo living bowl setup.

Choosing the Right Fish for a Bowl Without a Filter

A school of colorful fish swimming among aquarium plants in a glass bowl.

Consider hardy and small fish species, choose cold-water fish like White Cloud Minnows or Ember Tetras, ensure the bowl is large enough for your chosen fish, plan for frequent water changes, and add oxygen through aquarium plants.

Want to know more about choosing the best fish for a bowl? Keep reading!

Consider hardy and small fish species

Hardy and small fish, like bettas, guppies, white cloud minnows, blind cave tetras, salt and pepper corydoras, and zebrafish are great for bowls without a filter. These fish can thrive in such environments if the water is well-maintained and they aren’t overcrowded.

Keeping these factors in mind when choosing your fish will help ensure a healthy and vibrant aquatic life.

Now let’s explore other essential aspects when selecting the right fish for your bowl without a filter.

Choose cold-water fish

When selecting fish for a bowl without a filter, consider cold-water species like Sunset Variatus Platy, Cherry Shrimp, and Rainbow Shiner. These fish don’t require a heater and can thrive in a filterless environment.

Their natural hardiness makes them great options for beginners in the fishkeeping hobby.

Maintaining the ideal environment for your chosen cold-water fish is crucial. As you plan to add these delightful creatures to your home, it’s important to ensure their needs are met with consideration and care.

Make sure the bowl is large enough

When considering keeping fish in a bowl without a filter, it’s crucial to ensure that the bowl is sufficiently large to accommodate the specific needs of the chosen fish species. Small tanks can lead to water quality issues due to rapid waste accumulation, potentially impacting the health and well-being of the fish.

By selecting a suitable tank size based on the adult size and care level of the fish, as well as their natural habitat requirements, you can create a more stable and comfortable environment for your aquatic pets.

Moreover, providing ample space within the bowl allows for better waste dilution and improved oxygenation levels, contributing to a healthier ecosystem for your fish.

Plan for frequent water changes

To maintain a healthy environment for fish in a bowl without a filter, plan to perform frequent water changes. According to important facts, large daily water changes are necessary to keep the fish alive because ammonia builds up quickly in such environments.

It is essential to perform 50% or larger water changes at least twice a week, but preferably every other day, as regular partial water changes are crucial for maintaining the health of fish in this setup.

Ensuring that the bowl has clean and suitable conditions through frequent water changes is vital for preventing toxic levels of ammonia from endangering the fish’s survival. By adhering to these guidelines, you can create an optimal habitat for your finned friends in a bowl without a filter while minimizing potential health risks associated with unclean water.

Add oxygen through plants

Some aquatic plants, like Echinodorus Tenellus and Cryptocoryne Parva, can help increase oxygen levels in a fishbowl without a filter. These plants release oxygen during photosynthesis, improving the quality of the water for your fish.

By adding these plants to the bowl, you’re creating a more natural and healthier environment for your fish to thrive.

Choosing suitable aquarium plants is crucial in maintaining a balanced ecosystem in your fishbowl. When selecting plants, consider ones that thrive in low-maintenance conditions while providing adequate oxygenation for the water.

Fish That Should Not Be Kept In Bowls


Goldfish are not suitable for fish bowls. Keeping goldfish in a bowl stunts their growth and decreases their lifespan, as genetics determine the size of a fish. Bowls lead to poor water quality due to fish waste and rotting food, harming the health of the goldfish.

Animal welfare experts emphasize that keeping goldfish in tiny bowls results in certain death for them due to lack of spaceclean water, and oxygen needed for thriving.

Maintaining proper care for any living being is essential; likewise, it’s vital to ensure that the environment provided for pet goldfish matches their needs. Therefore, it’s crucial not to keep them in small bowls but rather opt for an appropriate tank with adequate space and filtration systems to meet their requirements properly.

Large and aggressive fish

Some large and aggressive fish, like cichlids, can become territorial and may harm smaller tank mates. Cichlids are known for their size and big mouths, posing a threat to other fish in the same tank.

It’s essential to research the specific behavior and requirements of any large or aggressive fish before introducing them into a community aquarium.

Understanding the behavior of large and aggressive fish is crucial for creating a harmonious aquatic environment. Now let’s explore choosing the right fish for a bowl without a filter.

Bottom-dwelling fish

When considering suitable fish for a tank, it’s important to also pay attention to bottom-dwelling species. These fish scavenge for food in the gravel at the bottom of the tank and play a crucial role in maintaining its cleanliness.

The allocation of space at the base of the tank is more critical than its volume when determining how many bottom-dwelling fish can be housed. Therefore, it is essential to carefully select peaceful and smaller species that will thrive in this environment without overcrowding.

One key consideration is avoiding keeping fish in bowls, as these environments are not conducive to supporting healthy bottom-dwelling species. It’s vital to consider appropriate tank sizes for different types of bottom feeders and ensure that they have ample space to forage and thrive.

Maintaining a Healthy Environment for Fish in a Bowl

A vibrant Betta Fish swims in a decorated bowl with aquatic plants, captured in a clear, high-resolution photograph.

Choosing a suitable bowl size is essential to provide enough space for the fish to swim and thrive. Adding aquarium plants can help with oxygenation, while regular water changes and maintenance are crucial for maintaining a healthy environment.

Understanding the needs of your chosen fish species is also important for their overall well-being.

Choosing a suitable bowl size

Fishbowls come in various sizes, ranging from 1/2 to 3 gallons. For a single betta fish, it’s essential to choose a bowl size that allows for maintaining a steady temperature and stable water parameters.

The recommended approach is to purchase the largest bowl possible within your budget and available space to provide ample room for the fish to thrive.

Now, let’s move on to “Adding aquarium plants”.

Adding aquarium plants

Adding live aquatic plants to a fishbowl is beneficial for the fish. The plants create a natural environment and reduce stress for the fish. Live plants absorb toxins, provide oxygen, and act as shelter and food for the fish, which balances the ecosystem in the fishbowl.

Some suitable live plant options include Anubias, Marimo Moss Ball, Cryptocoryne, Water Sprite, Betta Bulb, Sword Plant, and Vallisneria.

Plants contribute to a healthier environment by using fish waste to survive and improve water quality in the bowl. However, there are challenges to consider such as maintenance and potential overgrowth of the plants.

Proper filter options

When choosing a filter for your fishbowl, consider options like sponge filters or air-driven box filters. These types of filters are gentle and effective for small bowls without overwhelming the fish with strong currents.

Utilizing a suitable filter ensures proper water circulation and helps maintain healthy water conditions, promoting the well-being of your fish while reducing the frequency of manual water changes.

Furthermore, incorporating live aquarium plants such as java moss or anacharis can contribute to natural filtration by absorbing nitrates and providing oxygen. This symbiotic system supports a balanced aquatic environment within the bowl, benefiting both the fish and plant life.

Regular water changes and maintenance

To maintain a healthy environment for fish in a bowl, regular water changes and maintenance are crucial. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Perform weekly water changes of at least 10 – 20% to keep the water clean and prevent fish from dying.
  2. Monitor and regulate the water temperature in the bowl to avoid stressing the fish due to rapid temperature changes.
  3. Ensure that the water appears crystal clear, changing 50 – 100% of it ideally to maintain high water quality.
  4. Regularly clean the bowl and remove any accumulated waste or uneaten food to prevent toxins from building up.
  5. Test the water regularly for parameters such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and take necessary actions to maintain optimal water conditions.

Understanding the needs of your chosen fish species

Ensure that you understand the specific needs of the fish species you choose. Different fish have different requirements for water temperaturepH levels, and space. Consider factors such as dietsocial behavior, and environmental preferences when selecting your fish.

For instance, Betta Fish prefer warm water with a stable temperature while Guppies thrive in slightly alkaline water conditions. It’s vital to research and understand these specific needs to create a suitable environment for your chosen fish species.

Consider factors such as diet, feeding habits, preferred tank setup (plants or hiding spots), and any special care instructions associated with the particular species before introducing them into their new home.


In conclusion, choosing the right fish for a bowl is crucial. Research and understand the specific needs of each species before keeping them in a fishbowl to ensure their well-being.

Maintaining a healthy environment with suitable size bowls, plants, proper filter options, and regular water changes is key. Beginner-friendly and low-maintenance fish like bettas, guppies, zebra danios are ideal for solo living in a bowl without a filter or heater.

Ultimately, providing the best care for these small aquatic companions will lead to an enjoyable experience for both the fish and their owners.


1. What kind of fish can live alone in a bowl?

Paradise Fish, Endler Guppies, and Sparkling Gourami are good choices for living solo in a bowl. They don’t need buddies to be happy!

2. How often should I change the water in my fishbowl?

You should change the water often to keep your fish healthy. The frequency depends on your specific fish, but fresh water makes for happier fish.

3. Can you feed any type of food to bowl-living fishes like Paradise Fish or Endler Guppies?

Nope! Each kind of fish has its own diet and feeding needs. It’s important to give them the right food so they stay well.

4. Is it true that goldfish are great for keeping in bowls all by themselves?

That’s a myth! Goldfish actually need more space than a small bowl offers because they grow bigger and need cleaner water than bowls can usually provide.