Keeping Plants Alive in a Fish Bowl

There are many advantages in putting aquarium plants in a fish bowl. It does not only add beauty to it, it also helps to prevent algae and break down fish wastes. For many fish owners, they focus a lot of their attention on the survival of their fishes. They don’t realize that the plants also need proper care and maintenance in order to stay alive, just like the fishes. Feeding, lighting, the type of plants, substrates and tank companions are all responsible for keeping the plants alive in a fish bowl.

Feeding the Plants

Although aquarium plants can get their nutrients from the wastes of fishes, it is important to add fertilizers to them to ensure that the plants stay healthy. Add fertilizers that are meant for aquarium use, and not for house plants. If you add fertilizers that are meant for the normal plants in your house into the fish bowl, it will cause an imbalance in the water chemistry and kill the fish.

Aquarium plants need carbon dioxide to stay alive. However, the carbon dioxide supply is removed through filtering. Another option is to buy carbon dioxide supplements, such as a diffuser to spray carbon dioxide directly into the fish bowl.


Equip your fish bowl with traditional florescent tube lighting, or the new power florescent compact bulb. These lightings give off a proper light spectrum for the plants to stay alive. The lighting wattage and color temperature are also important considerations. Most plants enjoy light intensity of 2 to 3 watts per gallon of water. The lighting should give off a purplish or bluish glow from the spectrum. As the light penetrates to the bottom of the fish bowl, it ensures that there is enough light for plants that are submerged.

Type of Plants

Choosing the right type of plants is important to keep the plants alive. Choose a true aquatic plant for your fish bowl. Valisinaria, Hygrophilla, Java Fern, Anubias, and Hornwort are good choices for aquarium plants as they require lower light and are hardy in nature.


Gravels that are fine are better for the plants than course gravels. In order for the plants to develop properly and grow healthily, the roots of the plants need to grab hold of something. Gravels that are course are too large for the roots to hold, and will cause the plants to float in the water. This causes the plants to lose the chance to flourish and grow roots that are strong, as they are always uprooted.

Place a layer of laterite or peat under the gravel at the bottom of the fish bowl. These help to ensure that the nutrients are delivered to the plants through the roots, and promote strong roots.

Tank Companions

Place romaine lettuce into your fish bowl. This is to prevent fish and snails from eating and nibbling at your aquarium plants. They can tear up the plants completely and large snails can completely eat your plants. You do not want this to happen. Placing romaine lettuce helps as these water species prefer romaine lettuce over aquarium plants.