TL;DR Summary

Can Guppies Live In A Bowl?

Guppies can not live in a bowl. 

If you must house them in this, you could place a single fish in a bowl for up to 7 days. That comes in handy when you need to do a treatment to a guppy disease or if your guppy is about to give birth. 

Most of the internet wants you to think that guppies can live in a bowl.

They say that guppies are shoaling fish who need to live in groups in order to be happy.

Others will claim guppies need plenty of hiding spaces in order to minimize stress. 

But guess what?

They’re right.

Guppies can’t live in a bowl long-term.

Where Do Guppies Live In Nature

Guppies are tropical fish native to South America who are accustomed to warm water temperatures in the 78-82 F range. 

They feed mostly on algae, other fish, and vegetables. 

Matter of fact, they’ll eat whatever comes their way. 

They are very active fish who spend the vast majority of their day swimming around.

 When they rest, they love to disappear into thick vegetation and seek shelter. 

I’m bringing all of this up because in order for them to thrive in your home, you’ll need to mimic their natural habitat. 

Why Would You Have Guppies Living In A Bowl

I once had a baby fry that caught my eye.

It was so small that I couldn’t leave her in her breeding box, as would slip through the crack. Yet somehow she found a way to live in the tank without getting eaten. 

Now, she was tiny. 

I couldn’t leave her in the tank, so I repurposed an old old betta tank and set her up in there. No filter, no heater- against pretty much everything I preach here.

She did okay in the beginning. 

When I would come back from work I would “take her out” and put her in the big tank to socialize. Once she got a little bigger and was able to fend for herself I reunited her with her old tank mates.

It was a pain to care for her, but she ended up living a very long life. 

So Can Guppies Live in a Bowl?

In theory yes. But in practice- no.

It is, technically, possible to keep guppies in a bowl, but it is important to understand that a bowl alone may not provide the optimal conditions for their health and well-being.

Here are some key reasons why guppies are not ideally suited for living in a bowl:

Limited Space

Guppies are active swimmers and require ample space to move around.

When we talk about whether can guppies live in a bowl or not, we have to look at their natural behavior. 

A small bowl restricts their movement and can lead to stress and behavioral issues.

Guppies also love to hide in vegetation when they are tired. It allows them to relieve stress- an illness they are very prone to that can even kill them. 

Stress is as straight forward as it is- they get anxious and from there its a downward spiral. 

They are also a very social fish- thriving when living in a group. The main rule of thumb is about a gallon per inch of fish. So a 2.5 gallon bowl will only have 1 fish.

Inadequate Filtration

Proper filtration is essential to maintain water quality and remove waste products. 

There is a strong catch 22 when it comes to filtration of small bowls:

On one hand, you need the filtration or you be doing water changes around the clock. 

The water in the tank is going to get nasty pretty quick is you don’t use a filter. Filters are designed to remove toxins like ammonia from the water and convert them into something less toxic like nitrate.

In a simple 10-gallon tank you can have plants that will use a good chunk of that nitrate as a nutrient- thus cutting down on your manual labor for water changes. 

But a filter small enough for a tank like this doesn’t exist. That means you’ll get the smallest filter you can find, which will still be too big.

So the filter you will get will create a stream too strong for you fish to withstand. That means that your guppy will spend less time swimming, and more time stressed out with no place to hide. 

That will spiral down very quickly. 

Lack of Oxygenation

Guppies, like all fish, require oxygen to survive. 

In a small bowl with limited water surface area, oxygen exchange is limited.

Had the tank been bigger, you’d have been able to address the oxygen issue by introducing plants or using an air stone.

Plants would also keep your nitrate levels down- which will cut down on your water changing frequency and give you more personal time.

Oxygen deprivation is no good. 

Fish need some oxygen to survive and an amount too low will cause sickness and even make them die.

air stone omitting bubbles in a fish tank

Water Parameters

Guppies are sensitive to water parameters such as temperature, pH level, and ammonia levels.

When I had my small guppy in the bowl I had to change the water every 5 days or so. 

We’ve mentioned above how prone they are to stress. 

I like to joke that they love to be stressed (even though it can kill them). 

Well, guess what?

Water conditions and temperature can stress them too!

Guppies need a water temp of 78-82 degrees. They can survive in waters as low as 72, but not for long. That’s where guppy diseases chime in and their immune system becomes compromised. 

Guppies also need a stable water temperature. 

The problem you are going to run into is mostly finding a heater small enough for a bowl. 

Most heaters will be too big, which will make the water too hot. Hot water has less oxygen, and your fish will drown.

How To Do A Guppy Tank Right

If you are interested in dipping your toe (get it? It’s a water joke? I know it’s not very good one. But it’s a joke) in the hobby then here are a few simple steps to take to make it both good for the fish and fun for you. 

Tank Size

Provide a tank with a minimum size of 10 gallons, which offers enough swimming space for the guppies. Larger tanks are even better, as they provide more room for growth and social interaction.

While larger is better, 10-gallon is definitely sufficient. You’ll have room for about 6-7 guppies- and guppies thrive in group settings.

a 10-gallon tank also allows room for plants to be planted- which will cut down on how often and how much of the water you need to change. Plants will also help oxygenate the water- which your guppies need.

Plants on the other hand will require lights (a simple florescent light is sufficient).


Get a water filter that can move your entire tank volume at least six times an hour. That means that a 10-gallon tank should have a minimum of a 60-gallon per hour pump.

A good filter will take about five to six weeks to get seasoned.

It is the time it takes to build beneficial bacteria that work to remove ammonia from the tank and convert it into nitrate, which guppies are way more tolerant of.

A good filtration system will also cut down on the amount of water you need to change and how often you need to change it.

That means you get to have more quality time with your copies, and less time cleaning after them and maintaining the tank

Heating and Lighting

Guppies are tropical fish and require a stable water temperature between 78°F and 82°F (25°C to 28°C). 

When it comes to a heater and a thermometer, you can go about it in one of two ways:

get a two-in-one, and get the parts separate. Both options work and they’re both pretty affordable, costing about $9 to $20 for the parts.

You’ll need to get lighting as well, especially for using plants. Guppies should get about 6 to 8 hours of darkness- a time they desperately need in order to relax and to partially sleep.

Water Maintenance

Regular water changes and monitoring of water parameters are essential for the well-being of your guppies. 

Use a 5 in 1 water quality tester to regularly test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels, and pH.

 You’ll need to perform water changes as needed to maintain optimal conditions, which is about once a week.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can Guppies Live In A Bowl Without A Filter

We’ve touched on that topic before, but guppies will struggle tremendously without a good filtration system.

You will also struggle with or without infiltration system because of how quickly the water quality will deteriorate in a small fish bowl.

A filtration system is designed to convert toxins that naturally occur in the water like ammonia, and convert them into nitrate which your fish will be way more tolerant of.

Guppy Bowl with a single guppy

Without a water system, you’ll need to change the water a lot more often.

and a lot more of it, too. 

That takes more time because the water change has to be replaced with conditioned, temperature-matched water.

Even if you do get a filter, it’ll probably be too big for the bowl. 

Filter that’s too big for the tank will create strong currents that the guppies will not be able to swim through, in essence limiting the amount of tank you have.

That will make the fish’s life much harder, and cause stress- which can lead to illness and disease. 

How Many Guppies In A Bowl?

The amount of guppies that live depends on how big the bowl is. 

To calculate, multiply the amount of water the bowl holds by zero. 

Your answer should be zero- because guppies can’t live in a bowl. 

Can Guppies Live in a Bowl With No Oxygen?

Not long-term. 

While it is possible to hold a guppy or 2 in a primitive bowl with no oxygen or filtration- don’t plan on it being a long-term solution.

You can hold a guppy in a bowl if you’re quarantining it or if you plan on her giving birth and want her away from the crowd.

Don’t plan on it as a long-term solution.

Because bowls don’t hold much water the quality can crash quickly without you having enough time to catch it. 

How Long Can Guppies Live In A Bowl

There’s no definite answer to how long can guppies live in a bowl because they’re not supposed to live in it in the first place. 

You can hold a fish or 2 for a couple of days/ weeks while quarantining but don’t make a habit of it. 

can guppies live in a fish bowl

To sum up, while they technically can live in a bowl- they shouldn’t.

Guppies need to live in a group, and bowls don’t have enough space for that. 

Bowls also lack oxygen and don’t offer much room for vegetation or decorations.

Those are important for guppies because guppies need a place to hide- both to relieve stress and for rest at night.

The water in a bowl will get nasty quickly, which means you’ll spend more personal time cleaning it and maintaining it than enjoying your fish.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top