First time aquarists or beginner fish pet owners love the fish bowl because of the simplicity of its maintenance and its small size, which makes it easy to do it yourself. In addition, you can keep low maintenance and inexpensive fish in fish bowls, such as goldfish, bettas, and small gourami.

However, fish bowls do require more frequent maintenance in order to maintain a high-quality water since the fish bowl lacks aeration, filtration, and heating which are present in larger fish tanks.

Here are a few crucial steps that must be taken in order to keep your fish bowl clean.


How to Clean a Fishbowl?

1. Preparing the Temporary Replacement Water

Preparing the Temporary Replacement Water | How to Clean a Fishbowl?

Before cleaning the fish bowl, it’s imperative to prepare temporary water for housing your pet fish. This is done so that the fish are not shocked by the change in water quality or water composition. Tap water can have many properties which are harmful for pet fish such as chlorine and other heavy metals like chloramines.

Thankfully, there are ways to make this water safe for the fish. One way is to treat the tap water with water treatment kits that are readily available in all pet stores.

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2. Moving the Fish to Their Temporary Home

Moving the Fish to Their Temporary Home | How to Clean a Fishbowl?

The next step is to move your pet fish from the dirty fish bowl into their new temporary home. Transport the fish using a net, carefully and slowly, into the newly treated water.

In between this process, you can also give your pets a salt bath if you think that your fish might have any parasites on their bodies. Just pour a tiny amount of non-iodized salt into a different container filled with the same treated water and let the fishes soak for no more than fifteen minutes.

Afterwards, just transfer them to their new temporary home while you take the following steps to clean out their fish bowl.


3. Emptying the Fish Bowl

Emptying the Fish Bowl | How to Clean a Fishbowl?

If you have any gravel, rocks, or toys in your fish bowl, then you can use a water siphon to drain all the dirty water but leave everything else in the bowl to be picked out for later. If you do not have a siphon, then just empty the contents of your fish bowl over a large strainer. Another way to drain just the water is to use a wet/dry vacuum. Remember to wrap multiple layers of nylon net over the nozzle of the vacuum or the siphon.

As the simplest way of draining dirty water, if you have used the strainer, then do not forget to hold it under a strong stream of tap water to clean out the gravel, rocks, or fish toys.

You might notice some algae growths on your gravel, rocks, or fish toys. You can soak them in a solution of hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours to get rid of the algae. Also, after the 24-hour period, the solution decomposes into oxygen and hydrogen, which makes it safe for the fishes.

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4. Cleaning Out the Fish Bowl

Cleaning Out the Fish Bowl | How to Clean a Fishbowl?

Cleaning the fish bowl is rather easy but you must remember some crucial steps.

Use a paper towel or a piece of clean cloth to scrub the parts of the fish bowl you can reach with your hands. For the rest, you can use a clean brush to get to any solid dirt stuck on the insides of the fish bowl. If you are thinking of cleaning out the bowl with any detergents then stop right now! These soap-based solutions or detergents can leave harmful substances, which will be detrimental to your fish’s health.

Just rinse the fish bowl under a strong jet of tap water. Afterwards, just dry out the bowl with another clean cloth and reassemble all the gravel, rocks, and ornaments. Then fill the bowl with the pre-treated tap water and gently use a net to move the fish back into the bowl.


5. Why Does the Water Need to Be Changed Frequently in a Fish Bowl?

Why Does the Water Need to Be Changed Frequently in a Fish Bowl? | How to Clean a Fishbowl?

Due to their small size and the waste produced by the fish, fish bowls accumulate ammonia in a very short window. Therefore, in order to maintain the high quality of water, the fish bowls need to have their water replaced regularly.

However, since significant changes in the water temperature and composition can be shocking and stressful to the fish, you need to make sure that the replacement water has highly similar water conditions to that of the fish bowl.


6. How to Treat the Tap Water in a Fish Bowl?

How to Treat the Tap Water in a Fish Bowl? | How to Clean a Fishbowl?

Tap water is treated with zinc and chlorine to make it safe for human consumption. By the same merits, tap water is harmful for fish which have a much more delicate disposition. So, pet stores stock de-chlorinators that can make the water safe for fish.


7. Ways to Reduce Fish Bowl Maintenance

Ways to Reduce Fish Bowl Maintenance | How to Clean a Fishbowl?

Replacing the water of your fish bowl on a weekly basis can be challenging and if you happen to forget, then it can be devastating for the fish and lead to deaths of your precious pets. Thankfully, there are ways to work around this.

Filters are an excellent, expedient, and rather cheap way to keep the fish bowl’s water clean. There are sponge filters you can buy at pet stores, which gently absorb water impurities and fish waste. These sponge filters harbor good bacteria, which help in the dissolution of the wastes. The bacteria help in converting the harmful ammonia into carbon dioxide.

There are other sponge filters, which are bundled with air pumps. The pump creates a push and pull motion in the sponge filter, which helps it to suck more waste, and more water is driven through it. In doing so, the water filtration is quickened, and the water’s oxygenation is also improved.

Another way to keep the water well oxygenated and clean is to add live water plants to your fish bowl. These plants help in breaking down the fish waste; they add oxygen in the water, and provide a more natural environment to the fish.

Check this out: Best Fish Bowl Filter


Fish bowls are the best way to start off for first time fish pet owners due to their small size and easy maintenance. Just remember to regularly replace the water, and use water filters and live plants to keep the fish bowl clean by reducing fish waste and injecting fresh oxygen in the water.