A Warning About Distilled Water and Betta Fish

A Warning About Distilled Water and Betta Fish

Unlike tap water or spring water, distilled water has gone through a process that strips it almost completely of all minerals. Like RO water (reverse osmosis), it is essentially pure and no longer contains any of the trace elements that would be found naturally in water. Fish kept in distilled water over a period of time may show signs of lethargy or color loss. Most aquarists choose to use tap water because it is very inexpensive and if treated with a good aquarium conditioner is safer and healthier for your fish than distilled. If you have tested your tap water and found that it isn’t suitable for fish (extremely high or low pH for example) you could buy bottled spring water. Spring water has not gone through the distilling process and still contains the minerals bettas need. It is considerably more expensive then tap water but usually less expensive than distilled water.

Betta Bowl

Betta Bowl | Photo By Aspecticide

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Christie F is a Betta splendens hobbyist that enjoys spending time caring for her fish and helping new betta keepers learn the ropes. More posts by:

40 Comments for this entry

  1. Amy says:

    I filter my Bettas tap water then add the conditioner. Is filtering my water taking away some of those minerals?

  2. what are the bubble floating around the top of the water from my male betta?

  3. Stephanie R. says:

    I’ve been using distilled water for my Betta in his bowl for about 7 months now, he seems about the same health wise – an employee at Petco recommended using it – my only fear of switching to spring water would be some minerals may be too concentrated. I’m not familiar enough with how it’s produced to know what the mineral levels in spring water are. Would I have to a water conditioner it before using it? Or is it already made safe to use?

    • Christie F. says:

      Minerals aren’t added into spring water. They are naturally present in all bodies of water (spring water, lake water, ocean water, tap water). The distilling process strips the minerals away leaving you with water that is so “pure” that it has no health benefits to your fish. Bottled spring water (for drinking) is perfectly safe for bettas and requires no water conditioner.

  4. Rhonda C. says:

    My Beta acts like the rear half of his body is too heavy for him. He was not like this when I first brought him home.
    I recall my sister had one that had this same mannerism & he is still alive and doing fine.
    His appetite is good.

  5. Danielle says:

    I use just normal well water and betta plus+ do i need the water conditioner?

  6. jodi says:

    My daughter’s male blue beta died. He seemed lethargic for a week and this am he appeared to be fighting for his last breath. I keep my house temp. lower at night. Did I kill Blue?

    • Ltraine says:

      there is a chance you did kill blu, escpescially if he didnt have a heater. bettas are tropical fish and like their water to be between 80 and 82 degrees farenheit (more or less). whats also possible is that the nitrate and amonia levels were too high in his tank and he got poisoned from poor water quality, but the likeliness of all of this is dependant on the setup your aquarium has

  7. Kerry Stubbs says:

    When using any water, whether bottled or tap, check the phosphate levels. High levels of phosphate will kill a Siamese Fighting Fish, and some bottle water have lethal levels of phosphate. RO water should not and minerals can be added by using tropical salts. Even using rain water you should add salts.

  8. Donna says:

    It for nesting and they happy. I think he’s ready to mate.

  9. Theresa Weaver says:

    I am a new Bets owner. Please just tell me which water to buy. and the reccommended size tank. I am not concerned about the cost.

  10. Bettie says:

    I use ro water from our system for my fish. Should I add any thing to this water?

  11. jennifer says:

    Fist time fish owner here. I am going to use bottled spring water for my betta. Do I still need to treat it with a water conditioner?

  12. Ingrid says:

    I am no scientist but i suspect my son’s 1stmale betta died because I switched to distilled water only. I used to use tap water w a conditioner treatment. I figured distilled would be easier/faster. Well…maybe within the month his color faded and he got an odd patch on his scales. He shortly died. Then I read the conditioner bottle that said it “protects fish with 4 slime coat enhancers”…well distilled water alone doesnt give any protection and my lil guy died. Sad.

  13. Trista says:

    i use the water in the bottle that is for betta fish is that fine i just got mine today and have no idea how to do this

  14. Corey says:

    I am new to the Betta area. I have my Betta in a 2.5 gallon tank with a filter. It now does not seem to make bubbles as when I had it in a smaller bowl, unfiltered. Could I need to change out some of the water? “Chaz” has been in his new home for about 3 days now and am just curious to this new behavior.

  15. Patrik says:

    i’m not into betta keeping
    but im running an aquarium with gouramis botia etc
    normally when u use R/O water it’s like mentioned water that is striped from all minerals good and bad
    what u have to to after is add for ex dennerle osmose remineralt to bring your water on the right kh / gh

    mixing with tap water is not recomanded bc u still keep bad minerals phospates etc …

  16. Taylor says:

    My betty has not been eating his food he goes up to it and eats it but spits it back out and I found a little patch of bubbles on the side of his tank what do I do?

  17. Mike says:

    I have a male betta in a 4 gallon tank, with 3 neons. They all seem to be doing great! as the water temp is at 82

  18. Kathy says:

    I’ve always kept my beta in distilled water. Never had a problem. His bowl gets the bubble nest so I guess he is doing ok. He also lets us know when he is hungry. Very comical for a fish.

  19. Bonbob says:

    My betta fish “zues” is doing great in bottled water im planing on buying water conditioner but im wondering if bottled water with no conditioner will kill him.

  20. Tessa Shewcraft says:

    I got my son his blue/red beta fish “Nemo Philippe” about 3-4 years ago. I did not know that we were suppose to change his water so often. Tonight I notice his under belly fin showed signs of a grayish color which has never occurred before. Is it bc he water needs to be changed more often along with continuing water conditioning with spring water or is he dying? I’m very concerned. Pls help. My son loves him so much. Thank you

  21. Tessa Shewcraft says:

    My son’s male beta fish “Nemo Phillipa’ is at least 3-4 years old. His behavior is always the same. Tonight I checked on him before bed as usual & notice his under belly fin is a grayish color. With continue use of spring water & water conditioning is he dying? I did not know that I was suppose to be changing his water more often. Is it a bacterial infection or poor water conditions. I don’t know what to do. My son loves him. His water temp is always 72 degrees. What do I do & is he dying?

  22. Tessa Shewcraft says:

    also he has no filter for i can not afford one & adapts well to it. Is that ok?

    • Carol says:

      I’ve always heard that betas should not be kept in a tank with a filter, unless it’s a really big tank with a very small filter. In nature, they live in rice paddies, which means shallow, non-moving water. It’s much better to change the water frequently and toss the filter.

  23. Sarah says:

    I have just bought a betta for my 3 year old son. He named it Atikis. Lol. Anyways, I live on a lake and I’m wondering if using the lake water would b better for him or more beneficial. Please help ASAP!! :/ thank u!!

  24. jeveh says:

    much better..but check it first that is not salty :)

  25. Leslie Wassmuth says:

    I have been using distilled water & would like to change to spring water do I need to do half & half to get him used to it or can I just put him straight into the spring water? In the stores you can bring your empty bottle & refill it, is that usually spring water or distilled? It’s more than half the cost of distilled per gallon.
    Thank You!!!
    Leslie

  26. Peggy says:

    I received a small tank and things for Xmas to get a beta. My question is my tap water is on a water softener but I have an RO system separately on the sink. I received some water conditioner with the set up. Should I use the ro water with conditioner, tap softened water with conditioner or buy spring water @ store and add conditioner?? I’m really confused by all the comments.

  27. Elizabeth Cake says:

    Could i use a britta water filter For my Bettas water just a though im a first time owner and have had him 4 weeks i let the tap water sit for two days before placing him the bowl,the lady at the pet store gave me enough water for the holding tank, once i placed him in the bowl i have not seen any problems hes very happy and is very social

  28. Elizabeth Cake says:

    Could i use a britta water filter For my Bettas water just a though im a first time owner and have had him 4 weeks i let the tap water sit for two days then add the conditioner before placing him the bowl,the lady at the pet store gave me enough water for the holding tank, once i placed him in the bowl i have not seen any problems hes very happy and is very social

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