Fish bowls are great for children or adults who want an inexpensive, simple, and attractive environment for their fish. However, there is more to starting and maintaining a fish bowl than pouring tap water into a bowl and throwing in a few fish. Before setting up your fish bowl for the first time, it is important to learn what fish are suitable for such an environment, what water is safe to use, and how to clean your fish bowl properly to ensure your fish remain healthy and happy.
1. Buying and Preparing Your Fish Bowl:
When shopping for a fish bowl, the most important thing to consider is size. Larger bowls are easier to maintain and can hold more fish than smaller bowls. When possible, select a bowl that holds at least one gallon of water. You also need to purchase a fish net, floating fish food, gravel, plants, and at least two gallons of bottled drinking water. Avoid using distilled or deionized water in your fish bowl.
Do not purchase or use fish food that sinks to the bottom of your fish bowl; your fish will ignore this food and you will need to clean the bowl water more frequently. Check the label of any fish food you select to determine if that specific food is suitable for the type of fish you intend to keep in your bowl. Not all fish food is appropriate for all fish. You may also want to buy some freeze-fried bloodworms, or mosquito larvae, to feed your fish.
After purchasing your bowl and supplies, find a good location inside your home to place your fish bowl. It is wise to pick a place away from windows and direct sunlight, as too much sunlight will contribute to algae growth. You also want to avoid placing your fish bowl in very warm locations, such as near a stove or heater, as most fish prefer cooler temperatures. Make certain your location is sturdy and cannot be tipped over by children or pets.
Because even treated or conditioned tap water may be unsafe for certain fish types, you should always use bottled drinking water in your fish bowl. Fill your bowl with the bottled drinking water, making certain to leave about two inches of space between the water line and the top rim of the bowl. If your bowl did not come with a lid, and your fish attempt to jump out, you can try covering the bowl with a plastic lid or lowering the water level in your bowl.
You must replace at least 20% of the water in your bowl every few days. Fish cannot live forever in the same water, as they require oxygen in the water to breathe. Once that oxygen is depleted, your fish will suffocate if you do not introduce new water to the bowl.
2. Choosing the Right Fish for Your Bowl:
Although goldfish are a popular choice among children, fish bowls are not the ideal environment for goldfish. At most, a fish bowl can hold only one goldfish. This is because a goldfish that survives for any period in a fish bowl will quickly grow to the size of the bowl. It is better to avoid this type of fish entirely if a fish bowl is the type of environment you want.
Fortunately, fish bowls are ideal environments for numerous other fish that are just as lovely and fun as goldfish. It is important to research any fish before purchase to determine what size bowl they require and what other fish make compatible bowl-mates. Often, you can choose several different fish for your bowl.
There are several good combinations of fish you can choose for larger fish bowls. Two bettas, one male and one female, can be placed in a large fish bowl with some ghost shrimp and a snail. You can also place two or three white clouds into a fish bowl with a snail and some ghost shrimp. Most fish stores can help you choose compatible fish, so be certain to ask when purchasing your bowl and fish.
3. Cleaning and Maintaining Your Fish Bowl:
It does not take algae long to build up in a fish bowl. Most bowls will require a complete cleaning every two to four weeks. To prevent traumatizing your fish, use the same process when cleaning your bowl every time.
To begin cleaning your fish bowl, pour 80% of the water into a clean bucket or other container. Using your fish net, remove your fish and any other items from your bowl and place them into the container with the water. Take a clean paper towel and rub down the inside of your fish bowl until all the algae is gone and the bowl is clean. Rinse your bowl very well with tap water, and then return your fish, water, and any other items in the holding container back into your fish bowl. Using bottled drinking water, fill your bowl to its original water line, about 2 inches from the rim.
Because fish bowls are so small, they can become overloaded with fish waste very easily. Too much waste will make the environment unhealthy for your fish, potentially resulting in disease. If your fish are producing so much waste that you have trouble keeping your bowl clean for four days or less, you must either remove some fish from your bowl or clean it more often.
Feeding your fish too often also causes a rapid build up of waste on the bottom of your bowl. Feed your fish twice each day with floating fish food. When feeding new fish, you want to start by offering just a pinch of fish food. If your fish eat this amount very quickly, you can offer another pinch. Stop offering food when you notice your fish ignoring food that is already available in the bowl. Remove any food left in the bowl after ten minutes.
Fish bowls can be a lot of fun, but they also require substantially more time and effort to maintain than most people realize. If you are considering purchasing a fish bowl, it is essential you research every aspect of your decision carefully before buying your bowl and fish.