Can Angelfish Live In A Bowl?

Angelfish are beautiful fish that make great pets, they’re very popular and no doubt you will have seen them in many aquariums. If you are considering purchasing one you may be not be sure what equipment is needed and thinking “can angelfish live in a bowl?” Angelfish should not be kept in a bowl! Angelfish like space to swim and they can get pretty big. They also require specific water parameters which would be difficult if not impossible to maintain if kept in a bowl. To be blunt, keeping an angelfish in a bowl is cruel and in this article I will explain why.

Angelfish Size

Angelfish can grow as big as 6-8″ making it very difficult to keep them in a bowl. When angelfish reach this size the confines of the bowl will start to have an effect on their behavior and they may become aggressive towards any other poor creature that is in the bowl with them. They would also show signs of stress such as swimming close to the surface and increased breathing and in turn this would leave them vulnerable to illness.

For angelfish to thrive they need space. The bigger the tank the better, not only because of the size of the fish themselves but also because they are quite an active fish and love swimming around and exploring – something that they can’t do in a bowl!

Angelfish are also very territorial and keeping them in a small space like a bowl is likely to lead to very aggressive, bullying behavior. (For help with that problem check out our top tips article!)

Water Conditions For Angelfish

The Angelfish pH needs to be between 7.5 and 8.0 and water temperature of 75-78 degrees fahrenheit for angelfish to thrive (29-30 degrees celcius) 

To achieve these levels you will need a heater and a good filtration system that produces enough water movement, something which is very difficult in small bowls. These fish are also very sensitive to nitrate levels so you will need a good nitrate remover.

Angelfish are very oxygen demanding creatures so it’s important that there is plenty of surface agitation. Because of how a bowl is shaped, with the walls tapering in at the top, there is little surface water an so orioer gas exchange is not carried out. If angelfish are kept in a small bowl with little or no filtration they will eventually suffocate!

What Is The Best Size Tank For Angelfish?

An angelfish requires a minimum of around 20 gallons. They are a fish that can get quite big and they need a lot of space to swim around in. Anything smaller than 20 gallons is likely to stress out your angelfish – one of many reasons why you shouldn’t keep them in a bowl

Although I’d say the minimum tank size is about 20 gallons, bigger is better! If you want to keep angelfish you should be looking to get as large a tank as possible – a 50 or 55 gallon tank would be ideal.

Angelfish Tank Size In Litres

Angelfish require a minimum of 20 gallons, but bigger is better. If you’re used to working in litres here’s how these possible angelfish tank sizes equate:

20 gallons = 90.9 litres

30 gallons = 136.4 litres

40 gallons = 181.8 litres

50 gallons = 227.3 litres

55 gallons = 250 litres

60 gallons = 272.8 litres

100 gallons = 454.6 litres

Why Do People Keep Angelfish In A Bowl?

People sometimes buy angelfish as pets without realising what is needed to keep them properly. They seem like such beautiful and exotic creatures and can be tempting to buy at pet shops or online but many people don’t have the time or inclination to care for these fish correctly and sadly they often end up dying in a very short space of time.

Why Can't Fish Live In A Bowl?

Bowls are not ideal for keeping fish as they tend to be small and impracticle for fishkeeping – I can’t even imagine trying to fit a decent heater and filter system inside of a bowl and trying to carry out water changes and substrate cleaning.

A lot of fish are very mobile and need lots of space to swim in, something that they cannot do in a bowl.

As stated above the very shape of a bowl is a problem, as proper gas exchange cannot take place as there is a lack of surface water – a bowl has a narrower circumference at the top than around the middle! This is dangerous to fish.

There are some fish however, that can live in a bowl…

A bowl is not a good home for most fish!

Which Fish Can Live Long In A Bowl?

I’d never recommend keeping fish like angelfish in a bowl but some species can do quite well in one. Here’s a few examples:


A male betta fish is beautiful with it’s long and brightly colored fins and it’s a fish that is quite happy living in it’s own and doesn’t require an awful lot of space, so a relatively large, taller bowl would probably be sufficient.

Betta fish can also live happily without a filter system, which would be difficult to have in a bowl. It would take more work for the fishkeeper as a close eye would have to be kept on ph levels, nitrate levels and so on and numerous water changes would be required regularly, but it could be done.

A heater would still be required within the bowl to ensure that the water temperature is kept at an appropriate level for the betta – it is a tropical fish after all!

White Cloud Minnows

White Cloud Minnows are a species of fish that can do well in a larger bowl. They are happy in cooler water (45-70F / 7-21C) so they don’t require a heater (source). They are also hardy and don’t produce all that much waste so water changes are less regular than other species.

Zebra Danios

Another beautiful fish that can do well in a bowl. Zebra danios are low-maintenance, hardy and very adaptive – all great features for a fish if it’s to thrive inside of a fishbowl – you can even skip installing a filter!

They are a social fish so the bowl would need to be big enough for a small group.

Can Angelfish Live In A Bowl? - Conclusion

In conclusion, angelfish are an excellent fish that make great pets and it’s important that they are cared for properly. If you think angelfish could be the fish for you then make sure that you have a large tank – not a bowl! – with lots of space ensure you understand how to provide the sort of water parameters angelfish need.

Thankyou for reading this article on angelfish and I hope it clears up any questions you may have had about the (un)suitability of keeping them in a bowl.