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Fishbowl Game: Rules, Ideas, and Instructions

The Fishbowl game combines elements of Charades and Taboo to create a new fun party game! You might have played Fishbowl before it’s even used as an ice-breaker in schools, colleges, and workplaces. 

Part of the reason Fishbowl is so much fun is that it can be used as a great team-building exercise. In this guide, we’ll examine everything you need to know about Fishbowl. So, let’s first take a look at what the game is all about. 

What is The Fishbowl Game?

Fishbowl goes by many different names like Salad Bowl, for example. In the game, a large object will hold many other pieces of folded-up paper. Usually, a fishbowl is used, hence the name of the game. 

On each piece of paper, they’ll be a word or phrase written down. Players will take turns selecting a paper and then the rest of your team will need to guess the word/ phrase you have selected successfully. 

You can give your team clues in various ways throughout the game. Teams will also be racing against the clock in Fishbowl as well. We’ll talk more about the gameplay below, but first, let’s look at what you need to play. 

What You’ll Need To Play 

To play fishbowl, you’ll need pens, paper, a timer/ stopwatch, and something to hold the papers. If you want to go for the classic option, then a tiny fishbowl works great! Finding a fishbowl online should be pretty straightforward. 

We particularly like this small plastic Koller fishbowl. But while using the fishbowl is the traditional choice, you can use a regular box as well. Pens and paper are pretty self-explanatory, and any kind of timer/ stopwatch will work. You can also easily use a smartphone app for this as well.


The Fishbowl 

Despite being in the name, the fishbowl doesn’t do much! It’s simply used to hold the papers players will have to choose from during the game. Remember, you can also use a box or even a large bowl if you want. 

Pens/ Paper 

Before the game begins, every player should take a pen and a piece of paper. Cut the paper into three even strips, and then write down your chosen words/ phrases. All you need to do is simply fold the papers up and place them all in the bowl. 

The Timer 

Each round in Fishbowl is 1 minute long. So, you’ll need a timer/ stopwatch to ensure each team gets a fair chance. While a stopwatch or timer can be used, you can also use an app on your smartphone in a pinch. 

The Fishbowl Game Rules and Gameplay

The Fishbowl Game Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game 

Fishbowl is a party game that is very different from board games like Battleship or Clue. But there is still a point structure in place, and in the end, they’ll be a winning team. During the game, players will need to score as many points as they can. But as you’ll learn, each round is very different in Fishbowl. 


Fishbowl can be played with a wide number of players. In classic games, you’ll need at least 6 players so the teams can be split equally. But it can easily be played with a larger group of people as well. 

Teams don’t always need to be equal, although you should try to get them as close to even as possible. To start with, every player should be given three strips of paper and a pen. In larger group games, you might need to reduce this. 

Either only give players one strip of paper or let the teams decide who writes and who doesn’t. On the strips, players should write a word or phrase. Try not to make these overly complicated but don’t go too simple either. 

Once all the papers have been written, they should be folded up and placed in the fishbowl. One player should then shake the fishbowl gently to shuffle the papers around. When this is all done, the two teams should separate and sit/ stand together. The game can then begin. 

Playing Fishbowl – Round 1 

To start with, you should decide which team goes first. That team should then nominate a member to go and select a piece of paper. As soon as one piece of paper is taken out of the fishbowl, the timer starts. 

The player will then have to describe the word on the paper to the rest of their team. In round one, they can only hint at what the word is by using spoken clues. You can’t use gestures either, just words. 

It works just like Taboo, so if you have ever played that game, you’ll likely be good at this round. If the word/ phrase you select is too difficult, then you can pass once during the round. After the timer is finished, the play moves to the next team. 

Now you can decide to only take one turn each per round or keep going till all the papers have been taken from the fishbowl. Remember once a paper has been taken it stays out of the bowl till the next round. If your team guesses the word they score 1 point. 

Playing Fishbowl – Round 2 

Round 2 follows the same pattern, each turn takes 1-minute turns. But this time you can only describe your word/ phrase by using one word. This round is known as the password round and can be a lot more difficult than round one. 

Remembering which words/ phrases were discovered in the first round can definitely help you though. Once this round is done the papers are added back to the fishbowl for the third and final time. 

Playing Fishbowl – Round 3 

This round again follows the same pattern, both teams take 1-minute turns once again. This time the words/ phrases are described using Charades-style rules. So, you can only describe the words using gestures/ actions. 

Once this round is over the scores across all rounds are tallied up. The team with the highest score wins! And that’s everything you need to know about the Fishbowl game. Whether it’s for a party, team-building exercise, or simply an alternative to Monopoly Fishbowl can be great fun at any event. 

Fishbowl – Fantastic, Fun For Everyone! 

Fishbowl is great fun and a very versatile game that can be played with friends, families, co-workers, and more. You can even theme the game by adding fun house rules. For example, why not say all words/ phrases need to be related to certain subjects like sports or music? 

However, you play it Fishbowl is sure to be an entertaining game that is simple and easy to play. But also more challenging to win than you might first expect. 

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