Can Guppy Fish Live in a Glass Bowl?

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Keeping guppy fish a glass bowl might sound very interesting and fun. Though, many beginners have no idea that fish bowls will kill fish; especially those that do not have a filtration or air stone.

So, can guppies live in a glass bowl? Should you keep guppy fish in a glass bowl?

No, you should not keep guppies in a fish bowl. In fact, you should avoid keeping any type of fish in a glass bowl.

In this article, I will tell you, why you should not use fish bowl for keeping fish.

What Fish Can You Keep in a Bowl?
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I don’t recommend keeping guppies or any other fish in a glass bowl. You can setup a fish bowl with some beautiful plants and make a nice aquascape from it, but keeping fish in it is a bad idea.

Many people try to keep small fish or betta fish in a bowl, because this is what they saw in a cool photo.

A glass bowl is the death sentence for the fish. Not by chance most experienced fish keepers call a fish glass bowl as “death bowl”.

If you decide to create an aquascape from a glass bowl, you can place few snails and maybe couple shrimp in it. The snails and shrimp can be beneficial for the ecosystem. They will clean up the dying plants and will produce a low amount of waste. This will benefit the new plant growth.

But please, keep in mind that shrimp and snails will reproduce even in a small bowl. Regularly you will need to extract some live stock in order to keep the ecosystem stable.

Why Fish Can’t Survive in a Bowl?

First of all, fish requires much more living space than shrimp and snails. They are also bigger waster producers.

Although, guppies produce less waste, compared to other aquarium fish, they still pollute the water. While a fish bowl is usually 1-3 gallons in size, the small amount of water volume will not be able to dilute the produced toxins.

Small water volume is also very unstable in terms of temperature, water parameters and oxygen level.

Beginners, who set up a fish bowl, usually don’t add any filtration or aeration to the water. Filtration is a key element in a fish tank. Aeration might not be necessary, but surface agitation is a must in order to provide good oxygen exchange.

The worst is, when someone is sending me photos of a glass bowl, with plastic plants and colored gravel, and asks me why their guppies are dying.

Guppy Fish Glass Bowl

Here is an example video of a glass bowl, which holds 2 guppies:

This bowl has no filter, just an air stone. The agitation of water surface with air bubbles is contributing in keeping the water well oxygenated.

It is heavily planted, which is great, because the plants can filter out a ton of waste and toxins from the water.

Though, plants require light, at least 6-8 hours a day. In absence of light, plants will not be able to photosynthesize and will not remove excess nutrients from the water.

The thick substrate can help in providing great surface area for the beneficial bacteria, which helps removing the ammonia and nitrites.

However, the absence of filtration in this setup can be fatal for the fish. On a small glass bowl such as this one (12 liters = 3 gallons) is a must, if you keep fish in it.

Yet, I did not talk about the lack of swimming space, which is pretty obvious.

Can You Use a Filter on a Fish Bowl?

Yes, you can setup a filter on a fish bowl. Though, you don’t have too many options. You will not be able to use an internal or a hang on back filter.

You can’t fit a small hang on back filter on the edge of the glass bowl. You can’t stick an internal filter to the glass either.

You can add a sponge filter or an external canister filter. Most canister filters are too strong for a small bowl. If you can get your hands on a small performance canister filter or you can make a DIY canister filter, that would make sense.

So, a sponge filter would be the best option. Now, if you setup a nice-looking planted bowl, will you mess up the look of it with an ugly sponge?

You can probably guess my answer. That said, I will wrap up my article here.

Keeping Guppies in a Nano Tank

Instead of keeping your guppies in a small fishbowl, you might want to choose a nano tank. Why nano tank is more suitable than a glass bowl?

Nano tanks are slightly bigger than glass bowls. Most fishbowls are 1-3 gallons, while a small nano tank is 5 gallons. As I wrote in my guppy care guide, I recommend a minimum of 5 gallons aquarium for keeping guppies.

Nano fish tanks usually come with a filter or almost any type of filter or heater can be mounted on it. So if you don’t have too much space, but would like to watch beautiful guppies swimming around, get a nano fish tank.

Here is a list of 5 gallons nano tanks I recommend:

  Nano Tank Tank Size Price
MarineLand Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit
  • 5 Gal
Marina LED Aquarium Kit
  • 5 Gal
Hagen Fluval Chi Aquarium Kit
  • 5 Gal
Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit
  • 5 Gal
Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit
  • 5 Gal

In these nano tanks, you will be able to keep 3-5 guppies, some nice live plants and will not occupy too much space on your desk either.


There is no doubt about it; fish bowls can be very attractive to human eyes. However, keeping guppies in a glass bowl is irresponsibility.

If you would enjoy a glass bowl on your desk, set up a nice planted aquascape with some driftwood and add few snails and shrimp to it. But please, don’t add any fish.

Here is a great example of a planted glass bowl, which looks extremely pleasing:

Updated: January 8, 2022
Questions & Answers
  1. Hi FABIAN
    your website was very useful for me.
    I am a student PhD of animal breeding and study about guppy fish.
    I tend relate with you and use your information in field guppy breeding.
    thank you

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