Goldfish are one of the most popular types of aquarium fish to keep as pets, but a great deal of controversy surrounds their keeping. The main argument is whether or not they can safely be kept in fish bowls. If you have ever been to a county fair, you may have seen games where goldfish are given out as prizes. In many cases, the fish are kept in very small bowls which leads those who win the fish to believe that this is the ideal environment to keep the fish in at home. If you do a little research, however, you will find that this is not necessarily the case. That is not to say that there aren’t hobbyists who believe goldfish can be kept in bowls – the former argument just seems to be more prevalent. Before you make up your own mind on the issue, take the time to learn the arguments for both sides.
Downsides of Fish Bowls
The most obvious disadvantage associated with a fish bowl is, of course, its limited size. Most fish bowls are designed with a rounded shape, wider in the middle than at the top and base. Though this shape does provide some extra space for swimming in the middle of the bowl, the entire container is still much smaller than the average fish tank. The size of the container is very important in the health and well-being of your fish. Not only does your fish need plenty of space to room and grow (space which may not be provided by a fish bowl), but the water volume of the container is also important.
As your goldfish eats and excretes waste, harmful toxins and debris will accumulate in the water. In larger aquariums, a higher water volume serves to dilute these toxins so they do not have an immediate effect on the fish. In a fish bowl, however, these toxins remain highly concentrated unless you perform frequent water changes. The smaller water volume in a fish bowl also equates to a smaller surface area which influences the rate of oxygen exchange. Goldfish tend to have very high needs for oxygen, so a fish bowl may not be able to provide for the oxygen needs of these fish.
Safely Keeping Fish in Bowls
For as many critics of fish bowls as there are, you can find nearly as many hobbyists who suggest that a fish bowl can be a safe place to keep fish – if it is used properly. The most important thing proponents of fish bowls advocate for is proper maintenance. As it has been mentioned, the reduced water volume in a fish bowl compared to an aquarium means that frequent water changes are absolutely essential. To help maintain high water quality in your fish bowl, you might also consider installing a small filter or, at the very least, an air stone to facilitate aeration and gas exchange.
Another thing to consider is that goldfish are not the only fish that can be kept in bowls. In fact, proponents of fish bowls suggest that other types of fish are much more conducive to such an environment – fish that remain small and that do not create so much waste. Some of the fish that may do well in fish bowls include guppies, white clouds, swordtails and mollies. One thing to be wary of when keeping these fish in bowls, however, is the fact that these species are tropical fish so you will need to incorporate some method of heating the water in your goldfish bowl.
Other Things to Consider
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether you think a fish bowl is a good place to keep fish. After all, even a large aquarium can become a dangerous, unclean place for fish to live if you do not care for it properly. If you are concerned with keeping your fish bowl clean for your goldfish, consider doing something simple like using EcoBio-Stones in your fish bowl. They are made from porous volcanic rock and contain beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they need to survive. Once introduced into your fish bowl, these bacteria will work to establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle, helping to break down wastes and keep your fish bowl water clean and clear.