Home / Aquarium Fish / Bettas / Current Page
two red bettas in a glass bowl

Can a Betta Fish Live in a Bowl? Tank Requirements

What is really frustrating is when people think that a betta fish can live in a bowl without any sort of decorations, filtration, substrate, or anything in between.

Quick Answer

Betta fish cannot live in a bowl, as it lacks adequate filtration, temperature control, substrate, plants and decorations, and more. Betta fish have various specific aquarium requirements that are needed in order to keep them happy and healthy. Living in a bowl is not an option.

Keep reading to find out exactly why a Bank of fish should not be kept in nothing more than a bowl.

Reasons Why a Betta Fish Cannot Live in a Bowl

There are actually quite a few reasons as to why a betta fish cannot be kept in nothing more than a plain bowl without any filtration, decorations, or anything in between.

Tank Space

First and foremost, betta fish require a good deal of tank space. They tend to be fairly active swimmers and like to have room to maneuver. Most inexperienced fishkeepers might tell you that a gallon of tank space is enough for every inch of fish you have in the aquarium.

two red bettas in a glass bowl

However, this is really just the bare minimum, with the ideal amount being 2 gallons of tank space per every inch of fish, if not more. Therefore, if you have a betta fish that can grow up to 2.5 or even 3 inches long, it means that you need to have a tank that is around 5 or 6 gallons in size.

Of course, a small fish bowl never has anywhere close to 6 gallons. Having such limited space is not good for betta fish for a variety of reasons. At the very least, it will make them feel cramped and not provide them with enough room to swim around it.

However, if you also don’t have enough filtration in the aquarium, being in such a confined space can quickly lead to poor water quality use, and therefore health issues. Keeping your betta fish in a small and cramped tank is not ideal for many different reasons, and can eventually lead to death due to a variety of causes.

Recreating a Natural Environment

I personally find that one of the cruelest things is when people think that it is okay to keep a beautiful creature such as a betta fish in a plain bowl without any substrate, plants, rocks, or decorations in general.

The simple reality is that we take these animals out of the wild, and it is therefore our responsibility to provide them a good home. This means creating a natural environment for them that mimics the world that they would usually live in.

You need to provide your betta fish with some substrate in the bottom of the tank, some plants, rocks, pieces of driftwood, and other such items that will help make them feel like they are living in a natural environment. If the betta fish doesn’t have any of these things, it can cause large amounts of stress.

At the very least, betta fish like to have some privacy at times, which means having rocks and plants to hide under or within is essential. You don’t want a plain bowl for a betta fish. Hypothetically, even if living in a plain fish bowl were a possibility for a betta fish, let’s be honest, it still just doesn’t look very nice either.

Water Oxygenation

Something else to consider here is that your betta fish requires a good bit of oxygen to be present in the water. If you have a fish bowl that is very small and does not have much surface area, it means that there won’t be much gas exchange between the water surface and the air.

Essentially, what this means is that there won’t be much new oxygen getting into the water of the aquarium. This is especially the case if you also don’t have an air pump, air stone, or at least a decent filter that pushes some air down into the water.

Eventually, there may be too little oxygen in the water, which can of course cause problems for your betta fish. Just like any other fish out there, a betta fish also needs to breathe to survive.

Luckily, this is not the biggest issue for betta fish living in a fishbowl. Thanks to a special organ known as the labyrinth organ, a betta fish can breathe air from the surface, just like a human.

That said, being forced to go to the surface to breathe air is still stressful for a betta fish and is best avoided. Therefore, using an air pump and an air stone is recommended for any betta fish aquarium.

Water Quality

The next consideration when thinking about whether or not it is feasible to keep a betta fish in a regular fish bowl is the quality of the water. If you have a regular fish bowl, chances are that you don’t have any sort of filtration present, and that is a big problem. First, betta fish produce waste, and they also leave food in the fish tank.

Both of these substances release ammonia into the water, which is extremely toxic to betta fish and all other tank inhabitants, even if present in minute quantities. Physical or mechanical aquarium filtration is required to remove these substances from the water before they get a chance to release toxic ammonia.  

The release of small amounts of ammonia is however unavoidable, which is why you also need a filter with biological filtration. Biological filtration involves the use of beneficial bacteria which special scientific processes break down ammonia into nitrites, and then nitrites into nitrates, which are less harmful to fish.

However, it doesn’t end there, because tap water may also contain a variety of other toxic substances, including, but not limited to, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, chlorine, and more. 

This therefore means that you also need to have a good filtration with that engages in chemical filtration. Chemical filtration is most often characterized by the use of activated carbon, which has the ability to neutralize and remove most of these substances from the water.

The bottom line is that if you have your betta fish living in a plain fish bowl without the use of any sort of filtration, you’re going to run into water quality issues really quickly. This can end up stressing out your betta fish, causing health issues, and may ultimately result in death.

Water Temperature and Other Parameters

Other factors to consider here are water temperature, pH levels, and water hardness. Your betta fish requires all of these parameters to be within relatively narrow ranges, especially the temperature and pH levels. 

The issue here is that if you have your betta fish living in a very small bowl, that water is going to be susceptible to large temperature fluctuations.

The smaller the aquarium or bowl is and the less water is present, the more the outside ambient temperature will affect it. This can result in massive temperature swings on a daily basis, which is certainly not good for your betta fish.

At the very least, if you don’t have a decent aquarium thermometer and heater, maintaining a temperature of between 78- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit, which is required for betta fish, can be difficult. 

Although living in a bowl may not make the largest difference in terms of pH levels, this is still an important parameter to keep in mind nonetheless.

Tank Mates

The other factor to consider here is that a fishbowl is certainly not ideal for a betta fish if you want to keep it in a larger community tank. While most people will tell you that betta fish are far too aggressive to keep with other fish, this is not always true.

If you have a very large aquarium that has more than enough tank space, combined with plenty of decorations, plants, rocks, and other hiding spaces, there are fish that are compatible to keep alongside betta fish in the same aquarium. 

However, in a very small fish bowl, this certainly is not a possibility. This is especially the case if the fish bowl does not have any decorations or hiding spots inside of it. A betta fish is far too territorial to be kept in such a small space with another fish, particularly when there are no decorations to help mimic a natural environment.


The bottom line here is that whether we are talking about a betta fish or any other such animal, keeping them in a small fish bowl is never a good option.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Enjoyed? Spread The Love

Table of ContentsToggle Table of Content