Fish Bowl Pets: 10 Unique Additions To Your Fish Bowl That Aren't Necessarily Fish

Fish bowls can hold a lot more than fish!

Fish bowl pets don't have to necessarily be fish. If you don't have a lot of room for a big dog or a huge cage for a family of hamsters, there are plenty of pets that will happily live out their lives in a small aquarium. These little pets are ones that you could find at a pet store, and they don't need the larger tanks that many larger animals require.

Whether you're planning on setting up a saltwater or freshwater aquarium, you'll still have your choice of potential small aquarium pets and aquatic pets.

Here are some critters that can live in a 5- or 10-gallon aquarium environment.

Betta Fish

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Also known as Siamese fighting fish, these can live in a five-gallon tank. Bettas come in a variety of colors and are very interesting to watch.

Males need to be housed alone because of their territorial nature, but females, when introduced properly, can live together in a bigger sorority tank.

Fun Fact: When happy, they build bubble nests.


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These underwater creatures do best when housed alone and need at least 10 gallons of water in their tank.

Axolotls are very hardy and easy to care for. Check your local laws, as it is illegal to own these Mexican walking fish in some areas.

Fun Fact: These pets can't be handled because they don't have any bones.

Hermit Crabs

These little nocturnal crabs can be kept in a 5- to 10-gallon tank, depending on the number and size.

Two or three very small hermit crabs can be kept in a 5-gallon tank, but once they start to get bigger or you increase the size of the colony, they'll need more space. Hermit crabs do prefer to live with friends.

Fun Fact: If they have a damaged or broken leg, it can sometimes repair itself when they molt.

Red Cherry Shrimp

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These shrimp do best in a 10-gallon tank; keeping the water conditions stable is key to their survival.

These shrimp are relatively easy to keep with 20-percent water changes monthly, as long as you keep the temperature and pH level stable.

Fun Fact: You can also keep fish in their tank, but make sure the fish are small, because bigger fish will snack on the shrimp. Good tank mates are guppies, tetras and smaller barbs.

Halloween Crabs

These feisty crabs are for more experienced crab keepers.

Halloween crabs enjoy hiding and are very territorial. They are omnivores and eat things like brine shrimp, algae, and some fruits and vegetables. Their tank needs to have structures for them to climb on to get out of the water.

Fun Fact: The Halloween crab is also known as the moon crab.

Cory Catfish

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These fun little catfish are hilarious to watch. These little catfish, also called Cory cats, are very beneficial to any fish tank.

These bottom-dwelling scavengers are constantly scouring for missed food and other debris, which helps keep the tank clean. They are mischievous scavengers and peaceful, which makes them great tank mates.

Fun Fact: These fish are also called armored catfish, because of the hard plates that cover and protect their body.

Dwarf Frogs

These silly little frogs spend most of their lives underwater, but have lungs instead of gills, so they do need access to the surface, which is why a 5- or 10-gallon tank is best.

One of the more low maintenance amphibians, dwarf frogs are very active and spend most of their time near the bottom of the tank scavenging. They are peaceful tank mates, but have been known to snack on smaller fish.

Fun Fact: These frogs have no tongue or teeth, and use their front legs to shove food into their mouths.

Pacman Frogs

These frogs are mainly inactive, and can be kept in a 5- or 10-gallon space. They need to be kept alone due to cannibalistic tendencies.

These frogs can also be taught a feeding schedule. If you consistently feed them at the same time, they will get so used to the routine that they will wait for their meal if you happen to be late.

Fun Fact: They are carnivores and eat their food by ambush, and need their food to be alive and moving to be able to see it.

Fire Belly Toads

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These easy-to-care-for toads are great for beginners and fun to watch. They do best in a habitat that is half land and half water and do well in groups of two or three.

Fire belly toads get their name from their bright stomach, a sign to predators that they are mildly toxic. While not harmful to humans, you should wash thoroughly after any handling.

Fun Fact: These toads make noise by inhaling rather than exhaling which makes for a higher-pitched sound.

Sea Monkeys

Remember those kits we all got as kids? Sea monkeys are actually a very small type of brine shrimp. They require minimal care, once-a-week feedings and are interesting to "grow" and watch.

If you shine a flashlight on sea monkeys, they will follow the light; essentially performing tricks for you.

Fun Fact: Sea monkeys breathe through their feet.

Make sure to fully research each pet before bringing one home. It is very important with aquarium pets to have their habitat fully set up and functioning before you introduce them into their new home to prevent unnecessary illness due to stress.

If you don't have the space for a large cage or tank, or the time to commit to a large furry companion, there are plenty of interesting and unique options for pets. Goldfish, newts, and freshwater shrimp can also make great options. Or maybe you have an old tank lying around and you're looking for some new company.

Either way, you've got lots to choose from!

This article was originally published on April 29th, 2020.

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READ MORE: Picking the Right Betta Fish Tank for Piscine Pals