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Fish are usually kept in small bowls for ornamental purposes. There are several types of ornamental bowls in which fish are kept – these can be round, rectangular (brick size), different forms ranging from book supports to built-in wall brick types.
These are sometimes sold at flea markets, with live fish but can also be ordered from specific suppliers. Pet fish are usually chosen for their looks and generally, both buyers and sellers have limited knowledge of the specific needs of a species. The different requirements of every species of fish (around 25,000 species worldwide) are more pronounced in fish than in dog breeds or birds.
Small fish bowls have limited space for natural movement, let alone appropriate natural exercise.
(Fish need a minimum of 10 litres of water with a suitable filtration system)
Small bowls generally do not afford any hiding spaces for fish to move out of constant view.
In nature, fish fear any overhead threats as this is where their natural predators occur. This means that a fish in a fishbowl experiences the same stressful fear from being viewed through the glass and/or overhead when placed at a low level.
An indirect consequence of allowing the sale of small bowls is that they are deemed to be great gifts (small and decorative on office desks or for children etc). The receivers of gifts may not want or are able to adequately care for the fish or may be ignorant of the feed schedules required.
Many fish species have varied dietary needs – small bowls cannot be established well enough to provide algal supplements or similar secondary dietary needs.