How to Set A Planted Fish Bowl

How to Set A Planted Fish Bowl

Most of us must have tried our hands in a fishbowl and failed, isn’t it? Well, no matter how inexpensive and appealing fish bowls may seem, they are not the best place for the fish to live. It is the major reason why the fish inhabiting these bowls eventually die. Other than bowls, small containers and vases are also a big NO when you are thinking to keep fish in them.

So, if you have a spare fishbowl in your house, lying empty in the corner of the storeroom, it’s time to wake up the creative bugs and make it aesthetic. Wondering how? Well, today’s article is all about setting a planted fishbowl in the house. Apart from plants, we can also add some dwarf shrimps or snails and make it a pleasant centerpiece.

Exciting, right? Continue reading and find out how to do it and convert your once useless fishbowl into something worthy.

What is a planted aquarium bowl?

A small bowl or vase or container that seems too small for the fish to thrive can be converted into a densely planted version of an aquarium, which is called a planted aquarium bowl. Generally, they are unfiltered and unheated and doesn’t have any specific requirement.

A planted aquarium bowl does not hold any fish and can be considered as a small indoor garden lying somewhere in the table, near the window or shelf of the room.

Planted aquarium bowls are great for people who are interested in gardening. Since they do not require any sort of high maintenance like real aquariums, they could become an easy choice for many. Moreover, you can add your own ideas and thoughts and make it as attractive as possible.

If you want to go way beyond, you can use utensils or glassware other than fishbowl as well. The best part is we are going to use plants in the bowl which will act as a natural filter for the creatures that you may want to add. Live and dwarf shrimps or snails are the best to use here. Both plants and shrimps or snails can balance each other and thrive well in a small bowl or container.

Requirements for a planted aquarium bowl

Setting a planted aquarium bowl is not only exciting but inexpensive as well. Here, you don’t need to spend money like you do while setting a fish aquarium. As a matter of fact, you may find most of the desired items already present in your home.

Some of the prerequisites of planted aquarium bowl are:


A small fish bowl or vase or container of at least 1-gallon size is required. If you don’t have such container, you can pick up any cookie jar or slightly large vase as well.


A good substrate is a precondition for good plant growth. Therefore, you must get a high-quality substrate only. You can use potting soil sealed with play sand or pool filter for the purpose. If the potting soil doesn’t seem too good, you can use root tabs for effective results.


Plants require proper light for their growth and development. However, like fish aquariums, you don’t need to spend on getting expensive aquarium lights. Instead, you can go for low maintenance plants that can thrive well with the normal daylight or desk lamp as well.


Do not pick the plants which are high maintenance and difficult to work with. You are doing something just out of a hobby, so don’t make things difficult for yourself. Easy plants are best to plant in a bowl. You can go for dwarf plants or something like java moss, java fern or anubias.


Whether you want to have invertebrates in your tank or not is completely your decision. A planted fish bowl looks adorable in the absence of invertebrates as well. However, to make it live and more appealing, introducing invertebrates is a good idea. Dwarf shrimps like cherry shrimp or nerite snails are the best choices. They are good for small containers as their bioload is low and feed on algae as well. You should never consider introducing fish in a small bowl as it cannot sustain them for long.

How to set up the planted aquarium bowl

Now the final part is setting up the planted aquarium bowl. Once you have collected all the essentialities, it’s time to start setting the bowl.

First of all, take the substrate and layer them on the surface of the bowl carefully. You may need to add a small amount of water just to drench the substrate. Once the substrate settles down, start planting your plants before you add the water to the bowl. Start with one plant at one corner and add subsequently.

Now as the plants harden on the substrate, gently add water to the bowl.  Make sure you do not disturb the layers of the substrate while pouring the water. Let the substrate soak the water and plants settle down properly. Now is the time for the last step- turning the lights ON.

It will take some time, preferably a few weeks or months for the bowl to establish properly with the plants. As soon as you feel the plants are looking healthy, and there is no need for extra attention, you may add shrimps or snails. And that’s it; we are done!

Additional tips:

  • Once the planted bowl is established, all that you will need is perform a weekly small water change to maintain the water quality.
  • Trim the plants regularly so that the bowl looks pleasing and retains its lovely appearance.
  • You may need to add root tabs occasionally every few months.
  • If you have added invertebrates, make sure they do not starve. Toss some bits of food. At the same time remove the uneaten or waste materials to prevent to hike of ammonia or nitrates.

Final words

So these are the basics of setting up a planted fish bowl. You may make it more complicated and add extra plants to bring extra aesthetic view to it. However, low maintenance planted bowls not only look pleasing but are also easy to sustain. Make them look good and use them as a centerpiece.

Aquarium Plants
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