8 of the easiest fish to care for in a bowl without filter

The most common way of hosting fishes has been aquariums. Apart from aquariums, you will also find people hosting their fish in a small bowl.

Fishbowls make for a simple, minimalistic setup. These setups are best when you have minimal space to work with, and an aquarium tank is hard to set up. Fishbowl provides you the fun and experience of fish-keeping on a small space and budget.

So, here are some of the best fishes for a bowl without filter.

1. Zebra Danios

fish that can live without filter Zebra Danios 1

Zebra Danios are also known as Danio rerio. They have a slim figure which can be up to 2 inches long. Zebra danios have striped combinations of silver and bluish tint along the body. They can survive in low temperatures of around 64 degrees Fahrenheit. 74 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest temperature at which you could successfully host your Zebra Danios. Water with pH in the range of 6.5 to 7 suits them the best.

2. Paradise Fish

fish that can live in a small bowl Paradise Fish 1

Scientifically known as Acropodus opercularis, these fishes have blue with orange patterns all over their body. They aren’t as slim as danios while measuring around 4 inches long. The water temperature range of 61 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit suits them the best. Paradise fish can handle some acidic environments with water acidity measuring 5.8 in pH scale with the highest point being an 8 on pH scale.

3. White Cloud Minnows

fish to care in a bowl White Cloud Minnows 1

White Cloud Minnows have a silverish body with red fins. Their scientific name is Tanichthys micagemmae. Minnows can measure up to 1.5 inches long and can comfortably live in water temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH range in between 6 to 8.

4. Platy Variatus

easiest fish to care in bowl Platy Variatus 1

Platy Variatus or Platypaecilus variatus are found in Eastern Mexico. The females have a dull brownish green appearance while males have color combinations of yellow, blue, red and green. At maximum, these platies can be 2 inches long. A 75 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature with pH of around 6.8 will suffice for its survival.

5. Pepper Cory

fish to care in bowl pepper cory 1

Pepper Cory also belong to the group of hardy fishes. Also known as Corydoras paleatus, these species have a light brown body with dark spots. The males typically measure around 2.5 inches long while the females can be as long as 3 inches long. They can easily survive in water temperature ranging from 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Pepper Cories prefer slightly acidic water conditions (6 to 7 pH).

6. Blind Cave Tetras

fish that live without filter blind cave tetra 1

As the name suggests, blind cave tetras have minimally developed or non-existent eyes. They primarily rely on the olfactory sense to find their food. These blind tetras are typically a combination of silver and pink in appearance and are about 4 inches long. These fishes can live in water with temperatures ranging from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit with a broad pH range of 6.5 to 8.

7. Betta Fish

fresh water fishes betta fish 1

Betta Fish have an aggressive nature, hence, are also known as Siamese fighting fish. They have quite large fins which are larger than their bodies. These fish are around 3 inches long and prefer waters in temperature ranges of 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH of the water should be in between 6.5 to 7.5.

8. Goldfish

fresh water fishes goldfishes 1

Goldfish are one of the common choices among the fishkeepers. Though you could keep goldfish in bowls, this will stunt their growth. They can grow up to be 2 feet long (not exactly your bowl territory). They are suitable for water temperatures between 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit with slightly basic water quality (pH 7 to 8.4).

These were some of the best fish species that you can successfully host in a small bowl.

All that said, there’s some limitation to this method of hosting fishes.

The limitation

Fishbowl setups are short of space. You will have to compromise on available space for your fish to roam around if you plan to set up systems for filtration, heating, and lighting. Thus, fishbowls are best suited for minimalistic setting (we are talking about not using filters and heater).

Also since you are using bowls, you have to work with a small amount of water volume. And if you have read our article on aquarium filter, you will know that maintaining proper conditions in a low volume of water is hard. The bowl water will require regular changes (instead of cleaning).

The takeaway is, you will have to compensate for the absence of filters and heaters with constant cleaning, changing and monitoring the water conditions. Therefore, we suggest you start a fishbowl setup when you have some fish-keeping experience.



  • Get to know your fish.
  • Monitor your fish activity (look for any dullness or strange behaviors).



You can host fishes in a bowl without any support equipment. Also, the fishes have to be somewhat adaptable to slight water changes (better known as hardy fishes). Sensitive fishes will eventually die in a setup without any support equipment. All this means that you will have to dedicate more time to your fishes, balancing the environmental conditions to ensure your fishes stay healthy and live longer.

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