Can Guppies Live in a Bowl? Tips for Happy Guppy

Nov 10, 2020

can guppies live in a bowl

Fishbowls are beautiful to look at and take up less space. Thus, one might be inclined to get a pretty fishbowl for their guppies, but these spherical containers come with more vices than virtues. So, can guppies live in a bowl?

The answer to “can guppies live in a bowl” is yes, but they shouldn’t. It will have negative impacts on your fish’s health and life expectancy. The bowls do not offer adequate oxygen, and the water gets dirty more often. The curved glass also makes the view distorted for your guppies, causing it to stress out. So, it’s better to transfer your guppies to a square or rectangular tank as soon as possible. 

Why are Fish Bowls Bad for Guppies?

The controversy surrounding fish bowls have been making rounds for some time now, but we often see many fish parents and fish stores still using a bowl to house fish. Here are a few reasons why it’s terrible for your guppies.

Low Oxygen Level

Since fish bowls are relatively smaller in size, they minimize the ratio of surface to air.

The surface to air ratio is the quantity of water at the top and exposed to air against the fishbowl’s remaining water. This ratio should always be on the higher side as more oxygen needs to dissolve in the water for your guppies to breathe easily.

Inefficient Waste Management

Guppies produce less waste in comparison to other fish species. But since fish bowls are typically 1-3 gallons in size, the water can still get polluted quickly. The smaller water volume may not be able to dilute all the toxins produced.

No Space for Fun

Guppies are peaceful, but they’re quite active swimmers. If now always, they like to move around and whirl away most of the time. A fishbowl fails to provide enough space or hideouts for your guppies to have fun and explore.

No Filtration or Temperature Regulation

Fishbowls often lack proper filtration and heating mechanisms. Most filter and heater models are compatible with tanks, and thus, you’re left with little to no options for the fishbowl. The size of the bowls is the main reason behind it. Without a filter or heater, your guppies will be forced to live in a polluted and unreliable environment.

Bowls are temperamental

As fish bowls are more temperamental than their bigger counterparts, they can be very unstable. The temperature, oxygen level, and water parameters are all subjects to sudden changes. The fact that these bowls mostly don’t have a heater or filter makes things even worse.

Distorted View Causes Stress

With fish bowls, your guppies’ view of the outside world will be distorted. That’s because of the bowl’s distorted nature. The constantly warped view will not only wear out your guppies but also cause them to stress out. Imagine seeing everything as blurry blobs!

Open Top Poses Risks

Most fishbowls feature an open-top, which in itself poses a significant hazard to your guppies’ health. Your fish may accidentally jump out of the bowl, while ones with suicidal tendencies might do that on purpose. These tendencies are not at all uncommon in guppies living a stressed-out life inside a fishbowl.

In the wild, guppies love living and swimming in a group of hundreds of fish. Since the number of fish you can keep in a fishbowl is significantly limited, your guppy may feel lonely living in a fishbowl.

Likewise, a male guppy woos a female guppy using courtship dances that show off its intricate color patterns. That’s not possible either in a small fishbowl.

Can Guppy Fry Live in a Bowl?

Like the parents, guppy fries can live anywhere with clear or brackish water and some food. But just because they can, they shouldn’t.

They need special care in this delicate stage of life, and that’s not quite possible in a fish tank.

For example, guppy fries need feeding around 5-8 times a day as their body is continuously growing and changing. The leftover food and the waste they produce can quickly pollute the water, but the lack of a filtration system means your fries will live in dirty, unhealthy water.

The ideal water temperature should be anywhere around 80 °F. Without a heating system, it’s challenging to maintain that temperature consistently in an already temperamental fishbowl.

Guppy fries need exposure to light for about 12-16 hours every day. While strong and bright light isn’t the only necessary condition, the lack of it increases the chance of spine deformities. As fishbowls don’t have a specialized or dedicated lighting system, it may hamper the fries’ growth.

So, while your guppy fry will survive in a fishbowl, it won’t exactly lead a healthy life.

How Many Guppies Can You Keep in a Bowl?

Sometimes, whether or not can guppies live in a bowl also depends on the bowl’s size and the number of guppies.

Ideally, a guppy needs 2 gallons of water. So, technically, you can keep about two guppies in a 5-gallon tank or five guppies in a 10-gallon tank. We often see a single guppy kept in a 1- or 2-gallon fishbowl.

However, we recommend against all of that. Irrespective of the bowl’s size or the number of guppies, a fishbowl fails to provide the optimum environment required for healthy guppies.

How to Take Care of Guppies in a Fishbowl?

Sometimes, situations arise when you have to keep your guppies in a fishbowl. Maybe the tank broke down, or the fish tank you ordered hasn’t arrived yet. These things can happen.

Don’t worry. You can keep your guppies in a fishbowl for a short period until a proper tank is arranged. In that case, make sure to apply the following tips:

Change the Water Frequently

You should carry out the water change at least once a week. In some cases, you’ll have to do a 50% water change every alternate day.

Note: Frequent water changes will stress out your guppy.

Ensure Adequate Oxygen 

To increase the water’s oxygen level, make sure that the bowl’s widest part contains water. That way, your guppies can breathe in oxygen more efficiently while the carbon dioxide they exhale is released in the air.

Don’t Cram the Space. 

Don’t add gravels or plants unnecessarily if there’s no enough space. That will only hinder movement for your guppies and make them feel trapped.

Fish Bowl VS Fish Tank – Which is Better?

By far and large, fish tanks are better than fish bowls.

Even if you plan to raise just one fish, aquariums offer advantages that a fishbowl can never do.

  1. Fish tanks can be equipped with better filtration, heating, and lighting systems to improve your fish’s quality of life.
  2. Fish tanks do not need frequent water changes like bowls do, not stressing your guppies needlessly
  3. Fish tanks can house many fishes, which is great news for social fish like guppies.
  4. Fish tanks also offer enough space for experimentation with plants and decorations that can serve as relaxation and hiding spots for guppies.
  5. Fish tanks demand less frequent water changes and cleaning, which will save you several hours every month.

Aqueon 20 Gal LED Aquarium Kit

This 20-gallon glass aquarium by Aqueon can be a good purchase if you’re planning to raise a couple of guppies.

I’m recommending you this as it comes with a full starter kit, including a LED full hood, a filter, a heater, fish food, water conditioner, fishnet, and stick-on thermometer. This kit contains everything you need when starting.

Aqueon is a household name for anything related to fishkeeping, as attested by several hundred fantastic reviews on Amazon.

Conclusion on Can Guppies live in a Bowl.

Our communication skills with fish may not be as evolved as ones with cats and dogs. But that doesn’t allow us to treat guppies, or any other fish, like eye candies to elevate a room’s setting.

These are highly developed beings with unique intelligence, thought processes, and needs. As a fish parent, we have to provide the best care possible.

So, if you’re planning to keep your guppies in a fishbowl, don’t. And if you already do, buy a proper aquarium fit with necessary amenities as soon as possible for happy and thriving guppies.

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.