Fishbowl Stocking Ideas – What to Keep in a Glass Bowl?

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So you want to buy a glass fishbowl, or you already own one, but you don’t know what fish to put in it and how to set it up properly?

Then you have come to the right place. Here, we will analyze and take a look at some fishbowl stocking suggestions that you can use to stock up your fishbowl and make it look perfect.

To start with, you have to consider what size your fishbowl tank is. There are more sizes of fishbowl, and it will depend on the size of the bowl what fish you will put in it and how many of them.

It is generally not a good idea to put some larger fish in the tank, for example, the goldfish; even though the might seem like a popular choice for a fishbowl, it is actually a misconception that the goldfish suit a fishbowl, as they can grow to 12 inches in size and would not survive in a fishbowl for more than a few months.

The most common fishbowl sizes are 1-gallon, 2-gallon, and 3-gallon bowls. It might not seem like it, but there is actually some difference between these bowls and how many fish you will be able to put in it. Let us take a look at some fishbowl stocking ideas and how to set it up.

Fish You Can Keep in a Fishbowl

Keeping some fish in the fishbowl might not be the best idea, because some can grow up to be quite big. When you buy the fish, they do not seem to be big, but they actually grow up and might become too big. Let’s see some suggestions for stocking the fishbowl properly.

– Betta Fish (One)

Betta Fish

Betta Fish

A betta fish is a good fish for a fishbowl tank. But still, you might want to put one betta in a 3-gallon fishbowl, for example, to enable it to have a bit more space.

Betta fish will actually thrive to live alone in a peaceful environment because they actually live in similar conditions in the wild. They will not do well with too many active fish that can constantly nip at the betta’s fins.

Just remember to prepare the water before you put a betta in there – add some fresh lukewarm water into the water that was prepared for an aquarium setting.

Also, put some live plants or plastic plants with some grave into it, so that they will have a hiding spot for themselves.

– Endler Guppy Fish (3-6)


Endler Guppy

Another good option for a fishbowl setup would be to have a couple of endler guppy fish in there together. Endlers are shoaling fish, which means they prefer to live in groups of at least 3 together.

Now a very important thing is the actual size of the fishbowl that you want to keep the endlers in. They certainly are fascinating and beautiful fish and do not need much maintenance.

If you have a 1-gallon or a 2-gallon tank, then 3 or 4 endlers together would do fine. Even for a 4-gallon tank, 6 endlers are quite a lot, but they would still manage well in that sort of setting.

You have to remember that the more fish there are in the tank, the more debris and byproduct there will be, so you will constantly have to clean and cycle the water to keep it fresh.

– Sparkling Gourami (One)


Sparkling Gourami (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

The sparkling gouramis are one of the most beautiful small fish out there. Now because they are relatively small (up to 1.6 inches when they grow up), you can keep one sparkling gourami in a fishbowl of yours.

This gourami fish does not require too much in terms of maintenance; just make sure that you set up the tank with some vegetation and try to feed it some high-quality foods or pellets to keep it happy and healthy.

The sparkling gouramis have a special organ called the labyrinth organ, which means that they will often swim up to the surface to breathe oxygen. They will live to up to 5 years in general if they are taken care of properly.

– Least Killifish (3-5)


Least killifish is one of the smallest freshwater fish that are found in the United States.

The males of this species are smaller than the females; in general, the maximum size of these fish is about 1,4 inches, while the minimum is 0.7 inches.

This means that they would fit a fishbowl because they are quite small. Putting three together would be a good idea, while the maximum number of the least killifish for the fishbowl is 5.

A good thing about these fish is that they look great, but also they are easy to care for.

Of course, you will want to keep the water as fresh as possible, as it could be quite messy after a couple of weeks due to debris falling into the bowl and byproducts in the bowl.

Feed these fish some pellets or a mixture of frozen and live foods and they will be happy.

– Cherry Shrimp (5-10)


Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimps are very popular for fishbowls. They are very interesting invertebrates that are often seen in community tanks, but you can actually make a fishbowls setup from cherry shrimp exclusively.

Depending on the size of the bowl, you can have 5 or even more shrimp together; if you have a slightly larger bowl, then 10 shrimp can even be together in the bowl.

Be sure to put a good substrate and some plants to enable the shrimps to move around them and hide. A rocky substrate would be the best substrate choice for cherry shrimp.

They eat both plant and meat matter, so keeping a good diet for them should not be too big a task. High-quality pellets should consist of the majority of their diet, while you should supplement them with frozen foods.

– Snails


Nerite Snail

Snails are very popular for fishbowls. Not only are they interesting and beautiful creatures, but they represent something very different from the fish.

They are most often seen in community tanks where there is plenty of other creatures in the tank. But you can actually keep snails alone in a tank.

A good suggestion for keeping the snails in a fishbowl is to keep one nerite snail, 3 Malaysian trumpet snails, and 3 ramhorn snails together in a fishbowl of 1, 2 or 3 gallons.

They represent a good choice because they are low-maintenance, and they will feed on mostly any algae that can collect in the tank; be sure to put some plants that the snails can’t eat, or if you want that, you can also put the plants in there as food.

Malaysian snails and ramhorn snails will breed really fast. So time to time you might want to remove the old snails to avoid any overpopulation.

You should not keep larger snails in a fishbowl, such as rabbit snails, lava snails or apple snails.

Setting up a Planted Fishbowl

When you are setting up a fishbowl, there are more steps that you should follow to set it up properly. Here, we will provide you with the best steps when it comes to setting up a tank in a good way.

– Use a deep substrate

The first choice for setting up a fishbowl tank is to buy some quality substrate for a fishbowl and actually make it a bit deeper. Why is that? Because some fish and creatures on this list actually like to swim into the substrate, but it will also provide a more pleasing and satisfying environment overall.

It actually depends on the type of fish or creatures you have in the bowl as to what type of substrate to get. You can’t go wrong with a rocky substrate, or also some finer substrate in there. Just make sure that you clean it thoroughly before you put it in the bowl and also clean it on a regular basis.

– Add live plants

The next step would be to add some live plants or also some plastic plants into the bowl. This is to provide the fish with a place to hide and swim in between. If you have snails, though, and you don’t want your plants to be consumed, then put some artificial plants in there.

As to which plants to choose, we will cover that in more depth later in the article. Some of the best choices for live plants for fishbowls are amazon frogbits, java moss, dwarf anubias, dwarf hairgrass, pearl weed and more. Make sure that these plants are cleaned before you put them in there because they could be carrying some bacteria you don’t want in your tank.

– Add livestock

The next, and probably the most exciting step, is to put some livestock into the bowl. In general, you don’t want to overstock the bowl; this would be really bad. It is better to have fewer animals there so they have more space instead of putting too many in there. It also depends on what type of animals you are looking for.

You can put fish in there, such as betta fish, sparkling gouramis, endler guppies, least killifish, or you can choose a different option and make a fishbowl of shrimps and snails. A second option is actually an interesting option that many people like to see to have some variety and also to have something different.

Do You Need a Filter in a Fishbowl?

Fishbowls are very specific environments where everything is much smaller and cramped up than in comparison to a normal tank. For example, it can be much easier for dirt and debris to collect in a fishbowl due to small size, but also because it has an open-top so some debris can collect from the environment, too.

In general, if you set up the bowl correctly with plenty of live plants and do not overstock it, then you don’t necessarily need a filter. It is actually not common to find a filter in a fishbowl, because it is quite small and there is not enough space for a filter.

Filter always helps though, and you can use a small canister filter or a small internal filter (but you won’t be able to use a hang-on filter because of the rounded shape of the bowl). So you can get a filter for a fishbowl, and it would make sense, but it is not actually necessary, as a fishbowl can be quite a sustainable environment.

Aquatic Plants for a Fishbowl

As we said, we would cover which plants you can use in a fishbowl in this article. A good idea is to use a combination of different plants – ones that are slow-growing and the ones that are fast-growing plants. Let’s see some of the best suggestions for fishbowl plants.

  • Amazon Frogbits
  • Java Moss
  • Dwarf Anubias
  • Dwarf Hairgrass
  • Pearl Weed
  • Hornwort
  • Guppy Grass
  • Marimo Moss ball

Fishbowl Maintenance

One important part of a fishbowl is the proper maintenance of the bowl to provide proper conditions for the fish. You can do this with proper maintenance of the bowl and try to do this on a weekly basis. Here are some tips for good maintenance of the bowl.

– Make weekly small water changes or top-ups

This is an important step, as the water will get quite dirty over time, and you should seek to change it at least once a week.

– Plant trimming

This is also an important step, and it prevents the plants from growing too big for your aquarium.

– Scrubbing algae of the walls

You should try to get the algae from the walls as it can make the water dirty; usually, the snails can take care of it.

– Remove dead fish immediately


To conclude, fishbowls are quite popular ways of keeping fish at home. Hopefully, you have learned in this article how to stock up a fishbowl without compromising on the space that the animals need in your bowl. Remember to keep it as simple as possible and don’t overstock; this will keep the fish happy and healthy for longer.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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