Encyclopedia SpongeBobia
Encyclopedia SpongeBobia

"The Fish Bowl" is a SpongeBob SquarePants episode from season 9. In this episode, when Sandy tries to study SpongeBob and Patrick's behavioral patterns, her science experiment goes awry.



The episode starts off with Sandy sitting in her pool lounge chair listening to music, when suddenly, a book she ordered arrives at her dome. The book is about behavioral psychology, which Sandy uses to observe the behavior of fishes underwater. She begins off by riding a bus full of fish, who seem to act naturally. However, she disturbs and annoys the Bikini Bottomites by eavesdropping and reading her observations out loud. The fish throw her and her equipment out of the bus and she decides to find someone who will not mind being observed. She then sees SpongeBob and Patrick playing with each other, and decides to ask them. The two do not know what they are supposed to do during natural observance and just stand straight while saying actions and forms of the word "natural." They are also very nervous due to the microphone and recorder; their nervousness immediately goes away when Sandy ends her experiment. Despite her experiment being unsuccessful, she gives them both an A+ for their effort, and when they start cheering, she observes them again, only to provoke the same reaction. She proceeds to give up.

Sandy observing SpongeBob and Patrick.

Reading from the book again, Sandy learns that the test subject will behave abnormally if they are aware that they are being watched and may cause inaccurate results, so she decides to watch them in secret. She starts off by assigning them to go to the beach, to fill one bucket with white sand and one bucket with black sand to count. She also puts Patrick in charge. After that, Sandy hides microphones and cameras everywhere, puts Gary in charge of spying on the two, and observes the cameras from a van disguised as an ice cream truck.

When SpongeBob and Patrick get back home, Patrick is unable to stop thinking about being in charge. SpongeBob asks which method they will use to count the sand, but Patrick does not pay attention and continues to think about the phrase "I'm in charge." After SpongeBob asks how he wants to count the sand, he simply says that first suggestion, which is both of them counting the white sand first and then the black sand. While counting the sand, Patrick continues to think about being in charge and imagines himself running an organization called "Patrick Corp." When SpongeBob snaps him back into reality, having been stuck at 47 grains, Patrick decides he does not like how they are doing it and has SpongeBob count the black sand while he counts the white sand. He has trouble counting the sand, but SpongeBob does it flawlessly. Patrick then makes the error of missing the digit in the tens place as SpongeBob has the same digit in the ones place as him, causing him to get frustrated with SpongeBob.

Sandy then starts her second experiment by putting two scoops of the same amount of ice cream into two different sized bowls to confuse Patrick, which she gives to the two disguised as a mustached ice cream man. Squidward tries to get the ice cream, but when he comes, Sandy says the ice cream is sold out and slams the window on his nose, leaving him annoyed. Patrick likes the bigger bowl but believes the ice cream in the other bowl is bigger, and SpongeBob and Patrick constantly trade before Patrick says the only way for it to be fair is for him to eat both, causing SpongeBob to protest before Patrick selfishly reminds him that he is in charge.

Sandy then begins observing them both in her third experiment, when she hands them two ice cream cones exactly the same size. Squidward again tries to get the ice cream, but she says that they are sold out again and slams the window on his leg. Patrick takes both cones and SpongeBob begs to have his but Patrick forces him to rub his feet and then count the sand while his ice cream melts. SpongeBob then counts the black sand after finishing with the white sand, but Patrick cruelly knocks over the bucket and mixes it all together, forcing him to start over. Angry, SpongeBob gives Patrick's ice cream "sprinkles" by covering it with white sand, only for Patrick to retaliate by dropping his ice cream in the sand and eating SpongeBob's melted ice cream whole, finally causing SpongeBob's patience to run out.

Sandy then realizes Patrick is taking advantage of his privileges and taking advantage of SpongeBob due to his power of being in charge. SpongeBob angrily fights back, with Gary telling Sandy that the situation is bad. She runs towards the door and asks them to open it, but they have a fight about who opens it for her and she is forced to break the door down. Still wearing the mustache, Patrick believes that she is a real ice cream lady, and asks her to tell SpongeBob to open the door. She then reveals herself to Patrick, shocking him. Sandy reveals her experiment towards SpongeBob and Patrick. She shows them the cameras and microphones which leads to their affected behavior again, with SpongeBob upset that Gary was in on it too.

Upon hearing this, Patrick realizes that he got carried away with being in charge and apologizes to SpongeBob for his selfish behavior with him saying that he deserved a C-. SpongeBob tells him not to be so hard on himself as it was the experiment's fault, causing Patrick to blame science. Sandy tells them that they all get an A+ and ice cream. Squidward starts begging for a drop of the ice cream which Sandy, SpongeBob, Patrick, and Gary all ate, and they end up observing Squidward's desire for the ice cream in the house, now revealed to be a cage, as the episode ends.

Running gags

  • SpongeBob and Patrick standing straight up perfectly still after being told to act naturally and whenever they realized they were being filmed.
  • Sandy saying "Eureka," prospector appears saying "That's my line."
  • Sandy crushing one of Squidward's body parts and telling him they are sold out whenever she is handing out free ice cream for her experiment.


Vincent Waller confirmed this episode on Twitter on February 25, 2016.[2]



 ) Production music
 ) Original music
 ) SpongeBob music

  Kalua Jubalee - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [Title card.]
  Sandy's Texas Swing - Nicolas Carr [Opening.]
  Unknown Track 24 - Sandy opens psychology book.
  Vibe Q Sting - Nicolas Carr ["I've studied underwater chemistry, geology, and astronomy..."]
  Lap Steel - Nicolas Carr [Transition to the next scene.]
  Silly Bob Conversation 2 - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony [Sandy does the experiment on the bus.]
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 22B - Jeremy Wakefield [Sandy's recording device is thrown back at her.]
  The Donut Dilema - Nicolas Carr [Sandy asks SpongeBob and Patrick to be part of her experiment.]
  Unknown Track 23 - SpongeBob and Patrick stiltedly greet each other.
  The Donut Dilema - Nicolas Carr [Sandy says the experiment's done.]
  Cream Pie - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [SpongeBob and Patrick ask how they did.]
  Unknown Track 23 - Sandy resumes observation.
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 11B - Jeremy Wakefield ["Oh, forget it."]
  Vibe Q Sting - Nicolas Carr ["Hmm..."]
  Unknown Track 23 - ? [SpongeBob and Patrick get stilted]
  Hello Blues - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield ["Are you guys up for another experiment?"]
  Mission Improbable - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony ["Time to get to work."]
  Skipping to School - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [SpongeBob and Patrick return from the beach.]
  Short Military Bridge 1 - Nicolas Carr ["Aye, aye, Captain Sandy."]
  Nude Sting - Nicolas Carr [Sandy tells Patrick he's in charge.]
  The Fruitcake Vendor - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony [Sandy observing from inside an ice cream truck.]
  Bobbins and Spindles - Ronald Hanmer [Patrick's daydream.]
  The Fruitcake Vendor - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony ["We were at forty-seven"/Patrick counting sand.]
  Cockney Capers - Ray Davies [Strip Sounds] ["Time to initiate the first variable."]
  Popcycles and Ice Cream - Nicolas Carr ["Free ice cream!"]
  Humorous Conversation - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony [Sandy gives SpongeBob and Patrick ice cream.]
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 1A - Jeremy Wakefield [Squidward's nose crushed.]
  Humorous Conversation - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony [Patrick eats all the ice cream.]
  Popcycles and Ice Cream - "More free ice cream here!"
  Fooling Around 2 - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony ["I'll take those, my good man."]
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 17D - Jeremy Wakefield [Squidward's hands crushed.]
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 19 - Jeremy Wakefield ["For the love of Pete!"]
  Fooling Around 2 - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony [Patrick wants SpongeBob to rub his feet.]
  House Of Horror - William Merrick Farran [Closeup of Patrick's foot.]
  Fooling Around 2 - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony [Ice cream starts to melt.]
  Lap Steel - Nicolas Carr ["All right, I will."]
  Light Conversation 1 - Nicolas Carr, Barry Anthony [Patrick mixes white and black sand.]
  Tension Bits - Nicolas Carr, Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield ["Jeepers! I didn't see that coming."]
  Star Trekkers 3 - Steve Marston [SpongeBob and Patrick glare at each other.]
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 33A - Jeremy Wakefield ["Aha!"]
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 10 - Jeremy Wakefield [The door throws Squidward to the floor.]
  Drama Sting 3 - Steve Marston ["Open the door! The experiment is over!"]
  Vibe Q Sting - Nicolas Carr ["Cameras?"]
  Unknown Track 23 - "Et tu, Gary?"
  Drowsy Reef - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [Patrick crying.]
  Popcycles and Ice Cream - Nicolas Carr ["...and ice cream!"]
  Hot Steel and Slide Licks 24C - Jeremy Wakefield [Everyone eating ice cream.]
  Grass Skirt Chase - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [Ending with Squidward crying.]




  • This was the first episode to premiere during the May 2016 premiere week.
  • This episode's premiere preceded the series premiere of the Nickelodeon animated series The Loud House.
  • The title card background is the same as "The Algae's Always Greener," but overlapped with blue and a reflective glare.
    • The title card's letters are also similar to those of "The Main Drain."
    • They also appear as a visual "fish bowl" effect, similar to ones used on cell phones and image editing software.
  • When SpongeBob is counting the white sand, each grain looks bigger than it should look.
  • SpongeBob and Patrick do not notice the cameras Sandy hid in the house until Sandy reveals it to them, despite them not being hidden all too well.
  • This is the second episode in the series where Sandy gains weight. The first was "Survival of the Idiots."
  • This is the third time SpongeBob and Patrick eat large quantities of ice cream. The first time was in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and the second was in "Atlantis SquarePantis."
  • In the German dub, this episode is called "Das Experiment," which translates to "The Experiment."
    • In the Polish dub, the episode's title is "Badania naukowe," which translates to "Scientific Experiments."

Cultural references

  • The plot references the Stanford prison experiment.
  • The ice cream truck and alias that Sandy used for her experiment is a reference to Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist primarily known for his work in classical conditioning. It also references the 1930s Marx Brothers film A Day at the Races, in which one of the characters sells "tootsie frootsie ice cream" as a front for ulterior motives.
  • SpongeBob's line "Et tu, Gary?" is in reference to "Et tu, Brute?," Julius Caesar's last words in the William Shakespeare play of the same name.
    • "Et tu" translates to "And you."


  • After SpongeBob and Patrick are elated to get ice cream, the tub that Sandy is holding with her left hand changes from green to pink.
  • When the camera zooms in on Sandy when she's reading the book by SpongeBob's house, the window next to her changes lighting.



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