We all know that Betta fish need to have conditioned water to live. In this article, we are going to describe how to condition water for betta fish.
So, how to condition water for betta fish? The easiest way is with a dechlorinator. A dechlorinator, or water conditioner, is cheap and makes tap water immediately safe for bettas.
With words like “dechlorinator”, the task of conditioning your fish’s water may sound like a daunting science experiment. Fear not, because it is actually very simple and only takes a few seconds.
Chlorine and Chloramines
The primary cleaning agents in tap water that have adverse side effects on fish are chlorine and chloramines. These are dosed at low levels into the water and are very effective at killing harmful bacteria and disease-causing pathogens. They are dosed at such a low level that they are harmless to humans.
However, fish are significantly smaller than us. A betta may have less body mass than your thumb, so the levels of chlorine in the water are enough to be toxic or lethal to these fish. A common form of chlorine that you may be more familiar with is bleach. Of course, the level found in tap water is nowhere near the level of bleach, but when you consider something as small as a betta, the level is more comparable to bleach.
Chlorine is very easy to remove, and all water conditioners should be able to remove it. Chloramine is a bonded form of chlorine and ammonia, which makes it much more difficult to remove. Not all dechlorinators are able to remove it, so if you know your water contains chloramine, be sure to buy the correct dechlorinator.
Seachem Prime is one of the best dechlorinators, as it removes chlorine, chloramines, and neutralizes some level of ammonia and nitrite, as well as certain heavy metals. This means that it can save your fish if your tank crashes. In addition, once the bonds holding chloramine together break down, this releases ammonia, which is toxic or lethal to your fish. Seachem prime will prevent it from doing any damage.
How to Use Tap Water Conditioner
As previously mentioned, tap water conditioner is very easy to use. However, you should keep in mind that overdoing can cause toxicity issues with your fish. Many water conditioners come with some sort of built-in measuring instrument, normally the cap. Some of the caps have measured areas for milliliters, some ask you to measure by the threads of a screw-on cap, and others may require a pipette.
Be sure to always read the instructions when you get a new bottle of water conditioner, even if it is the same brand. Most brands have different levels of concentrated products, even if the branding and product look the same.
In addition, some water conditioners contain more than just a dechlorinator. For example, as previously mentioned, Seachem Prime can detoxify ammonia and nitrite, as well as rendering some metals harmless. StressCoat is a dechlorinator that also contains aloe vera, which can help to calm fish and restore damaged slime coats. Be sure to read labels and pick the dechlorinator that works best for you.
Water from wells does not typically contain chlorine, so many people with wells do not need a dechlorinator. However, this does not necessarily mean the water is safe for fish.
Well, water sits in the ground and runs through many different types of minerals. The longer it stays in the well, the more minerals it absorbs. This makes the water very hard, sometimes too hard to support fish life, especially bettas.
Bettas come from very soft, acidic water, with some bettas living in water with a pH as low as 3. Normal tap water ranges from 6-7.5 pH and is typically soft or moderately hard, which is still a good range for the average betta.
However, well water normally sits around 8-9.5 and ranges from hard to very hard. Similar to how some bettas specialize in living in extremely soft water, some other fish specialize in living in very hard water. This makes well water perfect for some species, but nearly unlivable for bettas.
Unlike chlorine, there is no easy solution to removing minerals from water. Reverse osmosis units are used by hardcore fish keepers, but these can be tricky to install and can cost several hundred dollars. In addition, the water produced does not contain any minerals at all, which is also unsuitable for bettas, as they require more than plain H2O.
You must remineralize reverse osmosis water, and while remineralizers are easy to control and not too expensive, it is more work than most people are willing to deal with.
Bottled spring water is a good alternative to well water but you must test the hardness and pH before getting a betta. You must remineralize bottled distilled or reverse osmosis water if you plan to use it.
Off-Gassing Carbon Dioxide
If you don’t have access to a dechlorinator, for some reason or another, there may be another way to make the water safe for fish. Check your local water report, and if you only have chlorine in your water, it is surprisingly easy to remove.
Chlorine is naturally a gas at room temperature, so it will attempt to return to that state. It will start to off-gas from tap water immediately, and after about 24 hours, it will be completely gone from the water. Simply put the water in some kind of chemical-free, food safe container, whether it is an aquarium bucket or even Tupperware. Wait 24 hours, and you’ll have perfectly safe water.
You can also add a bubbler to the water to promote gas exchange, which can completely rid the water of chlorine in 8-16 hours.
However, if you have chloramines in your water, this method is not completely safe. It can take a week or more for the chemical bonds between chlorine and ammonia to break down. It is only once these bonds are broken that chlorine will begin to off-gas, and you will still have ammonia in the water to deal with.
Rainwater is commonly used for aquariums in areas with low atmospheric pollution. Rainwater is very soft, often containing very few minerals, and may need to be remineralized for some fish. However, it does not contain any chlorine or chloramines, and is ready to use immediately. You do need to be sure that the rainwater has some mineral content. Otherwise, it will not be suitable for bettas.
Rainwater is very popular for freshwater dwarf shrimp and bettas, as it is the cheapest way to get soft, clean water. Some people use water butts to collect the water, though you will need to know what your gutters and roof have been treated with.
Unlike rainwater, getting water from a lake, pond, river or stream is not a good idea. These bodies of water, while stable in terms of chemicals and minerals, can be flush with diseases.
Any betta you buy will be a domesticated betta, not a wild betta. Some bettas come from lines that have been domesticated for nearly 100 years. These bettas, while exposed to some illnesses, have not been exposed to others for generations upon generations.
Lake, pond, and river water contain some of these pathogens, and your betta will not have any natural immunity to them. This can also introduce harmful algae and parasites to your tank. These are very difficult to treat and deal with and may force you to get rid of your tank, decorations, and fish entirely.
In conclusion, it is easy to condition water for bettas with commonly available products. You can also buy certain types of water for your betta, but some you will need to remineralize them. If you don’t have access to fish safe dechlorinators for some reason, off-gassing chlorine or using rainwater are good alternatives.