The answer is no. They cannot survive in tap water because of the chlorine and other chemicals that are found in tap water. You will need to treat the water before putting your fish into it. There are several different ways of doing this, some more effective than others.
By the end of this article you will know how tap water affect your betta fish, and what you can and should do to make betta fish live in the best environment possible.
What’s in your tap water?
Many people will buy a betta fish, set up the tank and then simply dump their old tap water into the new aquarium. This is not very good for your betta, since many localities add chemicals to tap water that are NOT good for fish. Some examples of these chemicals are Chlorine which can kill them if the levels are too high; Copper which can be harmful to them at any level and Fluoride which is also poisonous.
Chlorine And Chloramines In Tap Water
Chlorine is a gas at room temperature, but your water company adds it to tap water as a disinfectant. It’s possible for small amounts of chlorine to evaporate out of the water over time, so you’ll need to observe the level in your tank and refresh it if necessary – especially if you live in an area where they don’t use chemicals to treat the water.
Once you have free chlorine in your tap water, it will slowly react with organic material in your tank to form chloramines. At first, levels of these chemicals won’t be high enough to cause problems for your fish. However, over time – usually between four and eight weeks – these chemical compounds can become deadly to your betta, particularly if you have live plants in the tank.
Although most manufacturers of tap water conditioners say you should leave them in place for at least 24 hours, this is an arbitrary number and it’s best to change the water frequently since new research indicates chloramines appear within minutes or hours after adding chlorine. However, if you want to conserve water for environmental reasons by not changing it too often, I recommend you use a tap water conditioner that both removes chlorine and chloramines. You can then refresh the tank more frequently by adding some of this treated water to your fish tank after treating fresh tap water.
What else is in my tap water?
A variety of other chemicals are added to tap water, not all of which are bad for your fish. For example, nitrates and phosphates may appear in small amounts; hardly enough to cause problems for your betta. However, over time they’ll build up to potentially dangerous levels – either on their own or by encouraging algae growth – so it’s best to keep your tank’s water clear of them.
Additionally, while the amounts of sodium and sulfates that get into tap water aren’t likely to be harmful for fish, they can affect the hardness of the water and may encourage undesirable growths such as algae or slime coatings on your betta. The percentage of each varies from area to area, so if your tap water contains a high level of either, you may need to add some distilled or mineralized water to keep it from affecting tank chemistry.
What can I use instead of tap water?
There are many different products on the market designed to remove chlorine and/or chloramines from tap water for aquarium use. Whether you go with a bottled water conditioner, a de-chlorinator or another solution, it’s important to change the water often as you would if it came from straight from your tap.
I recommend using some of your previously conditioned tap water as a “refresher” since adding fresh treated water every time can be expensive or pollute an already filtered tank. For larger aquariums, I’d recommend putting the treated water in a clean bucket and parking it near your fish tank. Once an hour, add about an inch of this treated water to your fish tank; just enough to replace what evaporated during treatment. If you want to conserve even more water, you can use this method once every eight hours.
Are there any other ways to make tap water safe?
Some fishkeepers swear they can remove chlorine and chloramines from their tank’s water by letting it stand for 24-48 hours; however, this is often impractical since it needs to be treated once per day or night in smaller tanks. Additionally, the chemicals only dissipate if the water is exposed to air; you’ll need an open bucket or tank with a lid in order for this method to work.
What’s the best way to treat tap water?
To my knowledge, there isn’t one best method of removing chlorine and chloramines from tap water. Many fishkeepers prefer using bottled conditioners because they’re convenient, don’t pollute the tank after treatment and are relatively inexpensive.
However, because bottled products typically aren’t designed to deal with chloramines specifically, you’ll need to check your local tap water report to determine whether or not this is a problem in your area. If so, you may have better luck using a conditioner that removes both chlorine and chloramines, but you may need to change your filter more frequently since it requires a much higher dose to deal with these chemicals.
I would recommend next approach.
First, you will need a container large enough to hold the amount of water that you will be needing to treat. Ideally, the container should not be made out of glass or transparent in any way so that you can place it under direct sunlight. It is also important for this container to have a lid on top of it.
Next, take some time and watch your fish closely to see how much they eat and what kind of water they prefer. This will help you to determine the volume of water that you will need to prepare for them.
Next, obtain a dechlorinating agent and follow the directions on the label to make your tap water safe for fish. The easiest way to do this is by adding about one-fourth teaspoon per gallon of water that you need to treat. This will take a few hours for the chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate from your tank allowing your betta fish to breathe more comfortably in their new habitat.
In addition, there are also drops available for purchase that do not require any additional steps on your part after adding them. These drops often have vitamin B included in them which will help to reduce the stress on your fish. For betta fish, these drops are ideal for getting them used to their new habitat.
You should also be sure that you change the water regularly every week or so depending on how many fish you have in your tank and how big they are. You can do this by siphoning the old water from your tank into a waste pail and adding clean tap water that you have treated. This will prevent ammonia levels from getting too high in your fish tank which will make it more comfortable for them to live in.
Can I use a charcoal filtration system instead?
Yes, this is a viable option for those who aren’t looking to spend money on bottled conditioners or care about cycling time for a new aquarium.
However, charcoal can become a hassle if you don’t remember to change it daily, and some fishkeepers report problems with lower dissolved oxygen levels when using this method. In my experience, the benefits of having a completely safe tank outweigh these costs for smaller tanks that have no plants or decorative gravel. However, carbon filtration should be avoided if you have live plants or gravel since it can leech minerals into the water.
Can I leave my fish in tap water for a day or two?
Fish can survive in untreated tap water as long as you regularly change out a quarter of their tank every day to keep ammonia and nitrites at bay. However, it’s generally not a good idea to leave your fish in untreated water for more than 48 hours (even less if you have hard water). If you plan on changing the tank’s chemistry, I’d recommend waiting until the next day to do so.
Distilled Water For Betta Fish?
Betta fish are hardy creatures, but this doesn’t mean they should be treated like any other tropical fish. While some hobbyists do use distilled or reverse osmosis water for their betta tanks, I wouldn’t recommend it unless your local tap water isn’t safe for them to begin with. Many bottled conditioners remove most minerals, which makes distilled water unfriendly to fish since it’s so low in minerals. Additionally, betta are naturally hardy creatures that have adapted to survive in the sludgy waters of rice paddies!
I’ve personally tested my local tap water with a GH test kit and found it has high alkalinity levels, which is terrible for most tropical fish. However, my betta have been fine since I started using an appropriate bottled conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramines specifically. This is why I’d recommend using a pH neutral conditioner before changing your water to distilled water just in case no one else has tested their tap for hardness or alkalinity levels.
Spring Water For Betta Fish?
It’s best to avoid using untreated tap water for any fish tank, but this is especially true for betta because they’re naturally hardy creatures. If you’re going to use spring water instead of a pH neutral bottled conditioner, I’d recommend checking the mineral levels first in order to ensure they aren’t too high for a betta’s health.
While many fishkeepers love using bottled conditioners, I’ve personally found they’re unnecessary for my tank and haven’t provided the same results as a neutral pH conditioner.
Using distilled or reverse osmosis water isn’t recommended unless you’ve tested your tap for magnesium and calcium hardness first since this can become a problem if you don’t change the water before doing so.
For those who aren’t using neutral pH bottled conditioner, remember to change out at least 25% of your betta’s tank every day to keep nitrates (the end product of ammonia) levels low.
Additionally, you can try buying a test kit that specifically checks for chloramines/chlorine or ammonia levels in your tap water to ensure it’s safe for aquarium fish before changing it.
Remember that after treating the tap water, you may also need to treat both hot and cold water if you plan on using an old tank as a temporary holding container.
Hopefully this article answered any question you might have had regarding on how to get be best betta fish water for your aquarium.