Can Goldfish Live in a Bowl with a Plant?

Close-Up Of Goldfish Swimming In Fishbowl At Home

The iconic bubble shape of the standard goldfish bowl has been the first choice for goldfish hobbyists for years. Goldfish need space, so buy the largest bowl you can afford with the largest surface area. Many pet goldfish don’t live as long as they should. Goldfish have the potential to live a decade or more, not a year or even months. The cause of this shorter lifespan is improper care. Two common mistakes are overfeeding and infrequent water changes.

Plants provide oxygen to all living things. Adding an aquatic plant to your goldfish bowl provides the oxygen it needs and decreases nitrites, a byproduct of ammonia. Freshwater aquarium plants also give the bowl a beautiful natural look and absorb gases that can be harmful to your fish. Gravel or substrate allows freshwater plant species to perch in the bowl.

So to answer the question: Can goldfish live in a bowl with a plant?

Simple Answer: Yes, goldfish can live in a bowl with a plant.

Best Plants for Goldfish Bowl

goldfish plant


PlantCare LevelSpecifics
Java MossVery EasySurvives in dim light. May attach to rocks. Can be used to make a moss wall using non-toxic materials.
Brazilian ElodeaVery EasyCheck local regulations due to invasive potential. Hardy. Can grow rooted in the substrate. Proliferates quickly. Requires moderate sunlight and nutrient-rich water.
Anubias BarteriVery EasyHardy. Requires low light; can grow partially or fully submerged. Grows upwards and does not require substrate. Will grow at room temperature.
HornwortVery EasyTolerates extreme temperatures and low lighting. Improves poor water quality and processes nitrates.

How to Clean a Goldfish Bowl

If you want to keep your fish in a small goldfish bowl instead of a larger aquarium or pond, you will need to change the water almost every day. This is because goldfish generally produce a lot of waste.

You can limit this problem by avoiding overfeeding or letting the trash rot. If you are considering adding an algae eater, you need to give it room to live and grow. It is also necessary to keep the water at 25 ° C, which is ideally too hot for goldfish. For these reasons, don’t add an algae eater. However, it is not necessary.

  1. To purify the water, remove 50-75% of the goldfish bowl water and replace it with clean water that does not contain chlorine. You can add a few drops of a de-chlorinator to remove any chlorine from the water.
  2. If you are careful and act quickly to change the water, you can probably leave the goldfish in the bowl of the goldfish you are cleaning. During this time, you can remove the algae with a clean rag without chemicals or detergents. We recommend a seaweed washer, which you can purchase at your local pet store.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, add a drop of water de-chlorinator (see the instructions on the bottle for exact instructions).

Note that a little bit of algae in a tank is a good thing. It adds oxygen to the water and is a great snack source for your goldfish.

Identifying and taking care of your sick goldfish

1. Constipation:

Symptoms include fish swimming on its side above water or having a swollen belly. The cure is to add vegetables to the fish diet, peas are a great food to include in their diet. Helps as a laxative. Live plants also help with this problem.

2. Swim bladder:

Symptoms include an inability to stand up. Goldfish can be turned on its side, or even upside down. It is not to be confused with constipation, but treating goldfish using the same methods described above can help minimize the effects of the swim bladder. There is no cure for swim bladder as it is a genetic problem.

3. Ich or Ick (Ichtyopthirius)

Symptoms include white spots on the body or fins, and sometimes rapid gill movements. Treat it by cleaning the aquarium completely (to remove the potentially growing parasite) and contacting your pet shop for medications. However, these can be raw in goldfish. So try to use aquarium salt in an amount of (3 teaspoons per gallon). Not all fish can handle it. So treat only your infected goldfish.

4. Ammonia poisoning:

Symptoms include black, burnt skin, especially on the tip of the fin. The first thing to do is to change the water immediately. You can then add a drug that will help the protective mucus lining heal. So, buy an ammonia test kit so you know when to change the water. Often, in a bowl, it is necessary to change the water a couple of times a week or more often.

Setting up your planted goldfish bowl


goldfish bowl setup

Fishbowls are simple and do not require the same maintenance as a real aquarium, making them ideal for both aquarists and those more interested in regular gardening.

Materials needed to set up your Goldfish bowl

  • A bowl of at least 1 gallon.
  • Substrates to grow plants, so getting a good substrate is very important. A layer of topsoil sealed with a smaller layer or a pool or play sand filter should work. You can also use root strips, especially if the soil is losing its effectiveness.
  • Lighting: Most aquarists choose to keep it simple, low-maintenance plants in their bowls. This means you don’t need expensive aquarium lights. A normal desk lamp should work.
  • Installations: Simple ones work best!
  • Invertebrates (optional): While an unfiltered bowl is too small to feed a fish, you still have a few options when it comes to living animals. A small group of dwarf shrimp or some nerite snails are good choices due to their low bioburden and effectiveness in eating algae.

Putting the pieces together

Once you’ve gathered all of the supplies, it’s time to set up your bowl! Start with your substrate. I like to plant my plants before I add water, but that’s up to you – just be careful not to disturb your substrate layers as you pour them into the water. After that, you can turn on the light (and hook it up to a timer on a cycle of around 12 hours if you wish) and you’re done! After a few weeks or months, when the bowl is made, it is time to introduce your shrimp or snails.

A goldfish bowl does not require a lot of maintenance besides weekly small water changes. If you only have plants in yours, you may need to trim them occasionally.

If you are also storing invertebrates, be sure to throw in some leftover food regularly and make sure everything is either eaten or removed within a few hours to avoid ammonia spikes.

Goldfish Myths

1. Goldfish Only Grow to the Size of Their Enclosure

This is an element of truth, but it is not as innocent as it seems and is more related to the quality of the water than the size of the tank. With proper care, the goldfish will not stop growing.

Most of the fish are, in fact, the so-called indefinite breeders. This means that, unlike humans, they grow to death. What really stifles a fish’s growth is poor water quality and improper care. In smaller aquariums, the water quality is generally very poor. Goldfish suffer from little or no filtration and infrequent water changes.

The resulting stunting is not a good thing. Rather, it is a sign of disease and stunted fish often take on a bad appearance and die at a young age.

2. Goldfish Have a Three-Second Memory

It has long been said that a goldfish can be kept in a bowl because its three-second memory never allows it to get bored or tired of seeing the same thing. When they swim around the bowl they have already forgotten where they started from.

This myth probably only arose to justify keeping them in bowls, because anyone with fish knows this isn’t true. Goldfish can remember things for a long time, at least three months.

3. Goldfish Are Short-Lived

Goldfish are actually some of the longest-lived fish you can buy. They can live under the right conditions for several decades and the alleged record is 49 years.

The reason so many die at a young age lies more in the conditions in which they are kept than in the actual longevity of the fish. If goldfish is a fish you want to keep, be prepared for a long-term commitment.

4. Goldfish and Koi Are the Same Species

Although both are closely related and can even hybridize, they are not the same fish. Koi (Cyprinus carpio) is selectively bred carp, while goldfish are the domesticated descendants of the crucian carp (Carassius carassius), although both fish belong to the same family, Cyprinids. Commonly known as the minnow and carp family, Cyprinidae includes over 2,400 species common in North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, including many of the various popular barbs and danios that exist in the hobby.

Recommended Reading: When Should I Feed My Fish For the First Time?

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