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Setting up goldfish bowl for beginners: With full cost analysis

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Setting up a goldfish bowl is not as much complicated as setting up a community fish tank. This is quite simple and here in this article, you will know to set up a goldfish bowl through step by step process.

If you want to be an aquarist then you must start with a fish tank the size of 20 gallons. But initially, for a goldfish, you can start with a bowl if you don’t have much money to invest. But that is not recommended by us.  Now let’s discuss how to start a goldfish bowl for beginners.

How to start a goldfish bowl for beginners

To start a goldfish bowl initially you need some materials. These are

  • Minimum 5-gallon bowl

  • Tap water

  • A little bit of gravel substrate

  • Small filter

  • A little goldfish

Now let’s discuss how to combine all of these materials to build a sweet goldfish bowl

Cost of setting up a goldfish bowl only

You don’t need a huge investment to set a goldfish bowl. For a temporary purpose or initially if you don’t have much money to make a community tank then you can make a goldfish bowl with little investment. Let’s know about the cost analysis of it.

The costs of a goldfish bowl depend on the materials brand, locality, products’ quality and recent times costs. These are average costs that give you a general idea about it. Aqualifeexpert will not take any responsibility if the price fluctuates on materials.

Item description

Costs of item

Minimum 5-gallon bowl


Tap water


Little bit of gravel substrate


Small filter and air pump


A little goldfish


Total $52-$60

Minimum 3-gallon bowl

To build a goldfish bowl you need to focus on the fishbowl first. A fishbowl should be a minimum of the three-gallon bowl. You can find less than three-gallon bowls also but this is not suitable for goldfish. The growth of goldfish will be stunned due to the small space inside of the bowl.

More than a 3-gallon bowl is good also enough if you are capable to invest in it. You can’t get a ready-made fishbowl over 3 gallon. This will be customized.  But you should need to know about the costs of the bowl according to its size. Right? Let’s discuss it

Read more:- Know the causes and solutions of the cloudy goldfish tank

Bowl size

The price range of bowl

½ gallon bowl $5
1-gallon bowl $6
1.5-gallon bowl $9
2-gallon bowl $15
3-gallon bowl $18

This price range of bowls varies from brand to brand. It depends upon the pattern and style of the bowl also. You can find $18 of the 2-gallon fishbowl also. So the first thing you have to check is your budget before buying a fishbowl for goldfish.

Read more:-How many goldfish you can put in a tank?

Tap water

Water is another thing that you need to collect. Lots of new aquarists will say that this is a very easy thing for them. But before collecting water you need to check some parameters of water. Before adding water to the bowl you have to measure its pH value, ammonia level, phosphate level and chlorine level. These parameters are very much harmful to your goldfish if it is not checked properly.

Water parameters

Measurements for bowl

PH level 7.0-8.4
Ammonia level 0 ppm
Phosphate level 0.5 ppm or less
Chlorine level 0.001 to 1 ppm


These are the basics of the water that you are going to use for your fishbowl. 8.4 is the highest range of pH but you should not put your goldfish directly in that pH range. The pH level is over 8 means the water is alkaline. Just because you are keeping only one goldfish in your bowl that’s why it is better to keep the pH level under 7.5.

Ammonia level is the one that should be 0 ppm in any situation. Fishes will excrete daily and this waste will increase the ammonia level. This is challenging to keep the ammonia level at 0 ppm. 1-2 ppm will be harmful to goldfish so you have to be careful enough. As the space of the bowl is little according to the fish tank so ammonia spike may occur suddenly. This is another thing that you need to check frequently.

Phosphate level is also like ammonia level. Phosphate also comes from an external source or from fish waste. If you give excess food then fish will not eat all of these and those excess foods will create a high phosphate level in the bowl. Excess phosphate will not harm fishes directly but it will help to grow the algae. Now in a bowl, if algal bloom happens anyhow you can’t get rid of that and your fish and invertebrates will die.

You can find chlorine in tap water but it depends from locality to locality. If the chlorine level is more than 1.5 ppm then you should use RO water. Excess chlorine will affect the gill of fishes directly. So you should measure this before adding water to the fishbowl.

Read more:- How to keep fish healthy in a fishbowl: 5 uncommon tricks

A little bit of gravel substrate

The substrate is not mandatory to add to the fishbowl but there are some benefits to add it. Substrate for the bowl of goldfish should be mostly gravel. But before adding gravel you need to set the base with some sand. On the sand, the gravel should be placed.

If you add substrate then it will help to grow some beneficial bacteria like Azotobacter, Clostridium etc. these bacteria help to run the ammonia cycle smoothly. Without these bacteria, your goldfish bowl may face a sudden ammonia spike. This will kill your goldfish very fast. But there are also some advantages of adding substrate. These are

  • Substrate adds an aesthetic view of the bowl
  • Substrate helps to grow beneficial bacteria in the bowl
  • It allows binding aquatic plants with it
  • It acts as a natural biological filter of the bowl

The price range of gravel substrate packets is from $11 to $20. Now, this is totally up to you that which brand you will use. Among those, the natural polished gravel will be the best choice for your bowl. This will give the feel of the natural river rock.  

A small sponge filter and air pump

You can add a small filter to your fishbowl. Lots of new aquarists don’t bother about the filter. They think goldfish are habituated to live without a filter. But that is not the actual case. If you add a small filter it will increase the life span of your goldfish. Generally without filter goldfish can live up to 2-3 years in a bowl if the other parameters are okay.

A sponge filter will be the best for a goldfish tank. This is small in size and generally provides biological filtration. Biological filtration for a fishbowl is a must. In the sponge filter, beneficial bacteria grow on the sponge and start biological filtration. This takes time to start for 2-3 weeks.

When you see that there are lots of excess wastes in the water in a bowl then you should clean that up immediately. Otherwise, these will break down into ammonia and an ammonia spike will occur. So this will be your regular duty to keep the bowl clean if you want your goldfish alive and healthy.

The air pump is another tool that you should use. This will create water movement and due to this movement oxygen will add into the bowl. This is the only process to oxygenate the water of the bowl.  

The cost of the sponge filter varies from $5 to $10. This is cheap enough and the cost of the air pump is approx. $16 to $18.

Add a small goldfish

Ultimately you need to add a small goldfish after setting up the goldfish bowl completely. The goldfish should be the small one. Mature goldfish can’t live in a small bowl. Little goldfish still can make a habit to stay in the bowl.

Among the type of goldfish, you should add black moor goldfish, ryukin goldfish, lion head goldfish, bubble eye goldfish and celestial eye goldfish. The full-grown size of these types of goldfish varies from 5 inches to 7 inches. So you will get time to shift this to a fish tank. That fish tank should be at least 20 gallon.

The cost of a goldfish should not be more than $2.5. The maximum you can take $5 behind a fish.

Read more:- Why do goldfish die in a bowl so quickly? know the original truth


Building a goldfish bowl isn’t tough like setting up a community tank. This is very easy to make. But you should always try to make a fish tank just because of fish. Fishes will not be comfortable in a bowl. Small size fishes like guppy, betta, and neon tetra can live in a bowl but goldfish can’t live in a bowl forever. That’s why if you want to keep goldfish or if you love goldfish then you should focus on making a tank. Making a goldfish bowl is a temporary solution.

Read more:- How to set up a community fish tank with cost analysis

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