Can betta fish live in a bowl? Or should you invest in a tank?
The short answer is – No Betta can not live in a bowl and you should opt for a tank.
Betta fish might be small, but they can’t survive in a fishbowl. The main reasons include unregulated water parameters and lack of space.
We take a closer look at our argument below.
The Premises: Can Betta Fish Live in a Bowl?
The odds are that you have seen bettas live in fishbowls. Due to its size, you may assume your pet fish can live inside a bowl. Yet, many factors make bowls unfavorable quarters for this species.
You must consider its natural requirements instead of experimenting with its living conditions.
Background: Understanding the Natural Habitat
Betta fishes come from SouthEast Asia. The tropical fishes typically reside in rice fields and shallow ponds. They might also be found in canals and small wild lakes. They thrive in warm environments and still waters.
Due to this, many experts state that bettas ‘should not live in bowls.’
The primary reason is its drastic difference from the natural habitat. Living in smaller quarters can restrict its regular activities. It also increases the likelihood of toxin build-up and health issues.
Options: Are Fish Tanks Suitable Alternatives?
Yes, they are.
Dr. Keller from Veterinary College in Illinois considers a fish tank as a favorable option. According to the vet, a ‘glass or plastic’ tank shall suffice. The only condition is that it must have the capacity for 5-gallon water or more.
The specific size ensures that your pet has room to swim around. Its water parameters are also more convenient to control and clean.
The Reasons: Why Are Bowls Unsafe for Betta Fish?
If you want to keep your betta happy, you should create an ideal living environment. That requires extra effort to build a healthy and well-regulated living space. Fishbowls are inadequate for this task.
That is because fish bowls:
- Don’t have room for necessary filtration and heating systems.
- They get exposed to sunlight and other elements (i.e., dust, impurities, and microbes).
- They can’t generate a natural nitrogen cycle or healthy oxygen levels.
- Fishbowls have insufficient space for optimal movement.
- You can’t add substrates into the water.
Any combination of these factors might disrupt your pet’s natural lifestyle. Even with internal adjustments, your betta may fall ill. These challenges shorten their lifespan.
It, in turn, makes fishbowls an inconvenient space for long-term accommodations.
Despite this, many fish owners and pet shops keep betta inside bowls. We hope to nudge you in the right direction through detailed explanations.
Toxic Water Conditions
Fishbowls typically accommodate one gallon of water. The small quantity increases the risk of toxin build-up. That’s because the stagnant water prevents fresh circulation. You also do not have space for installing a filtration system.
That puts you at a disadvantage in several different ways.
The lack of filtration means:
- Lower oxygen levels may lead to breathing difficulties.
- It increases exposure to impurities that accumulate in stagnant water.
- An increase in ammonia levels. That in itself proves toxic for the tiny tropical fish.
- The non-existent nitrogen cycle.
The consequences of this unfavorable setup vary from fish to fish.
However, we do know that bettas are highly sensitive to ‘the effects of ammonia exposure.’ Its long fins make it susceptible to fish rot and other fish diseases. An undersized bowl increases the risk of this condition.
Can changing the water help?
One might change the water frequently to prevent these issues. Yet, that can get tedious when you consider the varied water parameters. Plus, cleaning an unfiltered bowl can be challenging compared to a filtered fish tank.
Therefore, this solution is temporary. The best idea is to shift the betta into a fish tank or aquarium.
As a tropical fish, bettas find warmer climates favorable. The optimal temperature range is between 23.5-27 degrees Celsius.
Rooms with ACs and winter seasons can cause frequent changes within the fishbowl.
That makes heating systems essential for your fishbowl. The only trouble is that heaters are relatively large in size. If you do find a fishbowl-sized heater, it can burn out quickly.
The main reasons include:
- The heating systems’ interact with substrates and filter solutions.
- Open fish tanks prevent it from regulating the temperature.
- Proximity to plants and decor can affect its operation.
Apart from this, your betta might get hurt. The limited space maximizes the risk of collisions. Its fin can also get stuck in the equipment or get burned.
In other words, stuffing heaters, betta, and plants in the same bowl can be dangerous.
What Happens When We Change the Fishbowl’s Position?
Many pet parents switch positions to maintain a warm environment. They do this by moving the bowl closer to the sunlight or open window. Or, they place it next to an external heater.
Unfortunately, these DIY-hacks do more harm than good. The rapid changes activate the betta’s survival mode. It might go into shock due to this, causing its immune system to weaken.
Fishbowls Can Create a Hostile Environment for Betta Fish
Open fishbowls mean more dust and dirt. The stagnant water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. It also causes dirt and icky mold to collect on the water surface. All these things are harmful to your betta.
Without a filtration system, these conditions can spike the toxin levels.
Open fish bowls are also a cause for concern in family homes. It gives little ones a chance to poke their fingers into the bowl. Children might even shake the fishbowl or shove it over the edge.
Not only does it increase water impurities, but it harms the fishes too. Your fishbowl might get damaged due to the rough use.
As a fighting fish, your betta might consider children a threat. It, in turn, can lead to aggressive behavior. Your pet might also suffer from stress and anxiousness.
Due to this, it might stop eating, and its health can deteriorate.
Betta fish are playful and curious creatures. They love exploring their habitat and interacting with new objects. They thrive in environments filled with cute decor, rocks, and plants.
These elements provide it with constant mental stimulation. Leading an active life can be equally beneficial for their emotional and physical well-being.
Unfortunately, a small fishbowl can’t cater to these needs.
Most basic bowls do not have the space to fit fish toys. Neither can you place aquatic plants or rocks into the bowl. Due to this, the fishbowl becomes a dull space for an energetic betta. It makes it unhappy and unresponsive
Zero Aesthetic Appeal
Many owners get betta fish for decorative reasons. Others keep it to promote relaxation and bring good luck in the room.
Keeping betta in fishbowls fails this purpose. The lack of space leaves no room for plants, design elements, or cute tank accessories.
Even if you get an artsy fishbowl, the pet inside remains unhappy. It might not interact with you or engage with its environment. These factors dampen the overall mood of your room.
As a result, the unfavorable conditions cancel any Feng Shui benefits. That makes your efforts to keep a fighting fish futile.
When Can Betta Fish Live in a Bowl?
You can place your pet in a bowl for a short-term. It is when your fish tank is getting cleaned during a monthly maintenance check. Or, you are relocating to a new home and want a temporary space for the fish.
Additionally, betta fish can live in bowls if you make suitable modifications. These include the installation of heaters, filters, plants, and substrates. Your betta will also need clean water routinely.
These upgrades can prove costly in the long run. That is why fish tanks are the preferable living spaces for betta fish.
The Bottom Line
Long story short, betta fish can live in a fishbowl. Yet, survival is less likely due to the varying conditions. Undersized bowls and tanks prevent it from maintaining an active and healthy life.
Additional risks include a toxin-filled environment, unfiltered water, cold temperature, etc.
Therefore, keeping betta fish in such conditions can be harmful to its health. You can change its fate by investing in a large fish tank or aquarium. That way, your betta fish can lead a long and happy life.
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