10 Best Fishes to Keep in a Bowl Without a Pump & Filter

Fish are colorful and fun pets. If you have allergies or sensitivities, fish are great alternatives. You can get the best fish to keep in a bowl if you have limited space at home. Just make sure that you get the right species that will live long despite a tiny habitat. You can put the bowl on your bedside table or living room to serve as a decorative touch.

With proper care, fishes in a bowl will live long. If given proper care, your fish will be healthy and live long. Below, we listed 10 of the best fish that you can put in a fishbowl.

1. Guppies

best fish to keep in a bowl
Photo Credits – Freshwater Aquarium Blog

Guppies are the best fish to keep in a bowl for first-time owners who are looking for low-maintenance pets. Guppies are hardy fish that can survive in almost any tank or bowl size. It’s a freshwater fish available in a variety of colors. Usually, males have more color patterns, though females are also beautiful options.

Most guppies can live for up to two years under ideal conditions. They can also survive without a pump or filter, making them a convenient choice for lazy owners.

Also, guppies don’t lay eggs. They give birth to their young, making them very easy to breed. If you’re thinking about purchasing multiple guppies, make sure that the females outnumber the males.

Guppies are also peaceful fish that can get along with other species of fish. They are also cheap enough where you can buy them in pet stores for just roughly $2 each.

To make guppies happy in a bowl, you should set up some plants like Java Moss, Java Fern, and other safe foliage. You can even add in small branches too.

2. Betta Fish

Betta Fish

If you want a more colorful fish, you should consider getting a few Bettas. Betta Fish are one of the top options for fish bowls due to its small size and very colorful tails. Also, Betta fishes don’t make the water dirty too easily. They can even tolerate dirty water much better than many other fish can. However, this doesn’t mean that you should never clean the tank or neglect the tank’s cleanliness.

Like guppies, Betta fishes are very easy to take care of and are quite resilient fish. However, they can be a little aggressive, so it’s best not to mix them with other fishes.

Again, the females should outnumber the males when getting multiple Bettas. This is to prevent the males from fighting over the females, which can lead to incessant nipping of their colorful tails.

Moreover, Betta fishes can last for up to five years with proper care. You can also find them in pet stores at dirt-cheap costs of $1 each, if you look around hard enough. Some varieties will cost $10 though, due to their color and tail length.

3. Ember Tetra

Photo Credits – Fishkeeping World

Ember Tetras get their name from their bright red color – resembling an ember. They are very easy to take care of and can thrive in a large bowl.

Ember Tetras are peaceful fishes that can get along with other peaceful species, such as guppies. They can live for up to two years and grow up to about an inch long. They also adapt to new environments fast.

This species love fish bowls with plenty of plants where they have spots to hide. A great aspect about Ember Tetras is they can thrive even under the care of an inexperienced owner. As long as you feed them with an omnivorous diet and clean their bowl well, these fish will live long.

Just remember that Ember Tetras are playful and active swimmers. If you’re placing an Ember Tetra in a small bowl, consider covering the top with a mesh.

4. Goldfish


We couldn’t leave off the ever favorite Goldfish from our list. This species is a common choice among kids and busy pet owners. It’s a great starter fish for those who haven’t owned a fish before.

Goldfishes are beautiful swimmers that can live in almost any condition. You can put them in a bowl and they will require very little care. Still, you shouldn’t put more than one Goldfish in one bowl since this fish isn’t the smallest option.

Goldfishes can live long, sometimes up to 10 years in medium tanks. To lengthen the lifespan of your Goldfish, you should change their water every 4 to 5 days, and ensure that they have a healthy diet.

Additionally, Goldfishes can grow large, but only if they were kept in an equally large tank. The only downside to this fish is that it makes the water dirty faster than other pet fishes. It can be a chore for some small kids to maintain.

5. Endlers Livebearers

Endlers Livebearer Fish
Photo Credits – The Aquarium Club

If you’re looking for the best fish to keep in a bowl, Endlers will not disappoint. Endlers Livebearers are always mistaken for guppies due to their similar appearance. It’s also colorful and is a freshwater species. An interesting fact about this species is that it can only be found on Laguna de Patos in Venezuela. Due to this fact, you should expect that this fish will be a little expensive.

Nevertheless, some breeders have commercially reproduced Endlers so that they are available for us to purchase. Most of the variants can live for up to three years.

The best thing about Endlers is they produce very minimal waste. They don’t need a filter and pump either, which makes them excellent as fishbowl pets.

Endlers are tough fishes that can get by with minimum care. They only require the same level of care as guppies. They are a fairly peaceful and docile fish that can grow up to one inch.

Endlers are usually expensive, but you can find them at around $20 per piece. They are available in orange, black, red, and green.

6. Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios
Photo Credits – Fluffy Planets

Zebra Danios get their name from their colorful stripes that are reminiscent of zebras. It’s a great option for those who are on a budget. This fish can be kept in a bowl with no filter or pump. Also, it’s not a very demanding fish and will not require a very hands-on owner.

If taken care of properly, Zebra Danios can leave for up to 4 years. However, under ideal conditions and in a larger bowl, this fish can live much longer. On average, this fish can grow for up to two inches.

This fish has an omnivore diet such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, sludge worms, and other similar options. Proper nutrition will increase the lifespan of this fish, as well as proper fish bowl care.

Unlike guppies, Zebra Danios are egg layers. If you want to reproduce this breed, you have to separate the fish from the eggs to prevent the adult fish from eating the offspring.

7. White Cloud Minnows

White Cloud Minnow
Photo Credits – Fishkeeping World

White Cloud Minnows have a silvery color with tails and fins with hints of red. They were once called the “working man’s neon” due to their resemblance to Neon Tetras. Unlike Neon Tetras, White Cloud Minnows are very affordable.

This fish can live for up to 3 to 5 years and grow up to 1.5 inches. It’s very easy to breed due to their egg scattering behavior. The males are more colorful and slender than females.

As for maintenance, the White Cloud Minnows are very easy to take care of. You should note that this fish thrives in colder water temperatures of roughly 59F (15C).

The White Cloud Minnow is a peaceful and sociable species. You can even mix them in the same tank or bowl with guppies. 

Also, White Cloud Minnows are top and middle dwellers. It’s rare for them to settle at the bottom of the bowl, so you shouldn’t panic if you see this fish staying near the surface.

8. Scarlet Badis

best fish to keep in a bowl
Photo Credits – eBay

Scarlet Badis are small, yet very glamorous fishes. They have several orange stripes all over their bodies that shine beautifully through their fins. In between the vertical orange stripes are silvery hints of blue. These colors become brighter and more prominent during spawning.

Males are very colorful in comparison to females, which may appear a little dull. This is the main reason why most aspiring owners of Scarlet Badis opt for male ones. However, when the fishes are still young, it’s difficult to tell apart the males from females.

Moreover, this fish can live for up to 3 to 6 years and grow up to an inch. This species thrives in freshwater and in a heavily planted bowl. Inside the bowl, this fish will swim slowly around in the bowl.

If you’re considering mixing Scarlet Badis with other species, choose equally peaceful and small fish. Scarlet Badis is a shy species and can get easily intimidated by larger fishes.

9. Six-Ray Corydoras

best type of fish to keep in a bowl
Photo Credits – My Aquarium Club

Six-Ray Corydoras is a freshwater fish and is a catfish subspecies. It’s usually in white/grey in color and has barbels, (whiskers) which is something that catfish will typically have. Although, not all catfish have barbels.

The Six-Ray Corydoras are peaceful and schooling fishes that must be kept in at least a group of five. That means you should have a larger bowl for them. Also, you should set up a heavily planted environment with a sandy bottom. The sand will prevent damage to their barbels since corydoras are bottom-feeding species.

This species requires regular water changes. Six-Ray Corydoras need more attention than guppies or bettas. You also have to maintain their water temperature so that it’s between 20C to 27C (68F to 80F).

Six-Ray Corydoras can grow up to 1.5 inches. Although, female Six-Ray Corydoras tend to grow larger than males. To keep this fish healthy, it’s best to feed it with live or solid food that will sink at the bottom.

10. Paradise Fish

best fish to keep in a fish bowl
Photo Credits – Fishkeeping World

Lastly, you can consider the Paradise Fish, also known as Blue Paradise Gourami. This tropical aquarium fish has similarities to the Scarlet Badis. It also contains orange vertical stripes that blend beautifully with metallic blue colors.

This species makes bubble nests and are a semi-aggressive fish. It’s best not to mix them with other fishes as they tend to attack other species. They can be nasty bowl mates who will rip and nip other fish, especially smaller ones.

Unlike other bowl fishes, Paradise Fish grow larger at about 4 inches. Because of this, you must keep them in a very large bowl. If taken care of properly, this fish can live for up to 8 years. Males tend to be larger than females. Also, the male ones have brighter colors.

Nevertheless, care for Paradise Fish is easy. This fish also accepts any food, though flake and algae-based food are the most ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are bowls safe for fishes?

A:  You should remember that fish bowls have restricted oxygen. You should only put a fish in the bowl if it’s small and can survive with limited oxygen. Also, don’t expect that the fish will grow big in a fishbowl.

Q: How do you take care of a fish in a bowl?

A: You must keep the bowl clean all the time. If there are sand and other decorations, make sure that you clean them well too. Avoid using soap and other abrasive cleaners that may leave residues in the bowl and harm or kill your fish.

Q: How often should I change the water in my fishbowl?

A: You should change the water in the bowl at least once a week. If the water gets dirty easily, you can change it more often as needed. The goal is to remove the dirt, access algae, and fish waste from the bowl.

Q: Do I have to remove my fish in the bowl when changing the water?

A: In a small bowl, it’s best to remove the fish before removing and cleaning the water. You can transfer the fish to another bowl as you clean the other. Make sure that the other bowl is clean and free of any chemicals. We recommend cleaning the temporary bowl before placing the fish there.

Q: How long do I need to wait before I can put the fish in tap water?

A: Tap water is treated and must be aerated for at least 20 minutes before putting your fish in it. You should introduce the fish to tap water as slowly as possible to prevent shock.


The best fish to keep in a bowl is one that will allow you to start fish-keeping without too much responsibility or things to worry about. These species listed above are easy to take care of and will not be difficult to maintain, even for children.

Just remember, like any pet, each fish has its own personality. Choose one that best suits yours!