facts about goldfish

Is it Cruel to Keep a Goldfish in a Bowl?

The ever-popular goldfish has been the starter pets for most young children. They are also used as decorative ornaments by many people. However, they end up dying after one or two months. Why? They keep their goldfish in bowls.

Like any other pets, goldfish are sensitive; therefore, they require a conducive environment to support their growth. Only a few people understand how to take care of goldfish among other fish species. Keeping fish in bowls is completely inhuman.

Indeed, ask those people keeping goldfish in bowls, and most likely, they will tell you goldfish have a life expectancy of about one year. Rarely did they know that under good care, goldfish can live for up to 20 years. Let’s explore further to know why keeping goldfish in a bowl is cruel.

#1 Size

Goldfish size gives a reason not to keep these pets in a bowl. Even though goldfish are known to be tiny, barely 3 inches, most people don’t know that they can grow up to 15 inches or even longer.

No fishbowl can indeed accommodate a 15-inch goldfish. Is it true that goldfish will adapt their growth to the size of bowls they are kept in? I will give an absolute NO. This is what exactly happens. The goldfish exterior is limited from growing by the small size of the bowl or a relatively small tank. However, other organs such as the spine, fins, and eyes will continue growing as expected and deform due to squishing. For instance, the spine will bend into S-shape. This, combined with other deformations, will lead to the death of your tiny little friend.

facts about goldfish

#2 Waste production

Every fish enthusiast knows how harmful ammonia is to any fish species. Goldfish are not exempted from this.

The amount of waste produced by goldfish gives a good reason to avoid keeping them in a bowl. With a diet that is primarily vegetarian, you need to have filters to remove, let’s produce poisonous waste. Since bowls do not have filters, the excreted ammonia burns their fins, gills, and skin. The burns result in black burned areas and eventual areas.

Goldfish owners who keep their tiny pets in a bowl and change the water regularly while ensuring the bowl are clean have their goldfish live up to three months. This clearly shows that under no circumstance, your goldfish will survive for longer in a bowl.

Typically, goldfish requires a considerably larger and fully cycled aquarium. You will be required to provide a filter. Indeed, double filtration is encouraged and frequent changing of water. Avoid bowls and keep your goldfish in a sizable aquarium to avoid ammonia and nitrate spikes.

#3 Oxygen requirement

For goldfish to live healthier and happier, they need plenty of oxygen. Bowls offer a low surface to air ratio; therefore, increase susceptibility to getting deoxygenated. This causes the fish to drown and gasp for oxygen slowly. Fish keepers use air stone; however, it does not offer a perfect solution.

A perfect solution to provide your goldfish with a sufficient supply of oxygen is keeping them in a large aquarium tank. Ensure the tank has plenty of surface area to allow oxygen to dissolve in the water. You can as well add large air stone to provide a more conducive environment for your goldies. If this does not seem to work, check on the food quality and nutrition value.

facts about goldfish

#4 Water quality and temperatures

Cramped bowls will hold significantly small water. The smaller the water volume, the higher the notable changes in water temperatures and quality. It is easier to maintain stable water quality and temperatures in large tanks compared to bowls or vases.

A small amount of nitrite that can dissolve in large tanks will be poison in bowls. This is a solid reason to ban goldfish bowls. Even with filters in your bowl, it won’t handle the waste produced by goldfish effectively.

Additionally, bowls will have extreme temperature changes. This causes stress; therefore, weakening the immune system and increasing susceptibility to diseases. Continued stress will cause death.


Typically, every 1 inch of fish requires at least 24 square inches of water. No bowl will provide this space for large goldfish. Goldfish are not throwaway pets; therefore, they need a conducive environment, including a large tank with filters and quality water. If you can’t provide for their needs, don’t buy them. Sorry, but this is the ugly truth.

Do you have any information on whether it’s cruel to keep a goldfish in a bowl or not? Share your thoughts here in the comments section below!

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This page was last modified on April 30, 2021. Suggest an edit

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