Betta fish named Shelbi by BS

BS wrote,

First off I would like to say that your website has been the most resourceful betta page I have ever found and I will be checking in very regularly; it has helped me so much! I am so excited to have found it. I have one question that might be a silly one but I haven’t found an answer on the web or in books so I thought I’d give it a shot. I have recently purchased a new betta fish. I live in Oregon where the water is extremely clean. At our house we have Well Water. My question is, do I still have to use a water conditioner or anything in the water? I have had him for about two weeks in a ten gallon tank with a heater around 78-79 degrees and in the water from our sink that comes from a well- he is thriving and eating perfectly. He swims around his tank constantly and explores everything; he seems to be very healthy.I also have two large plastic plants, will these tear his fins? This has not been a problem so far but I wouldn’t want to risk it. I attached a couple of photos of him, his name is Shelbi.

A: Thanks for all the kind words. This is a common concern of betta keepers who are utilizing water from a well. The answer to whether or not well water is better for bettas is yes and no. Or really, it depends. If you are filling your aquarium with well water you don’t have the same concerns as others who are living off the municipal water supply. Well water isn’t typically treated with chlorine or chloramines, unless you are treating it yourself, which is a major concern for aquarists as it is extremely toxic to fish. When we condition our tap water, we aren’t only treating for these two items though. Most water conditioners are also detoxifying dangerous heavy metals. These heavy metals, such as lead, zinc and copper may still be present in your well water and may still pose a threat to your fish. Not all well water is high in heavy metals (not all tap water either for matter) so I can not be sure if it is an issue for you. Many aquarium hobbyists keep fish in untreated well water for many years without issue. All I can tell you is that heavy metal poisoning is a possibility. If your betta has been ok so far he may continue to be fine. You’ll have to decide if you want to treat for heavy metals. If you do, you may find Kordon’s Rid-Metals to be a good product for you. It is a single bottle that treats just heavy metals, unlike Kordon’s AmQuel+ and NovAqua which treat chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals in combination. Local fish stores are beginning to carry it more or you can use my old fall back for fish supplies by ordering at Drs Foster & Smith.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Anonymous says:

    What are the signs of heavy metal poisoning and how do I know if my fish has it from well water?

  2. Christie says:

    The effects of heavy metal poisoning in fish is still being researched and isn’t completely understood. The most commonly reported symptom is sudden death. Many aquarists have also reported rapid or labored breathing or gasping and inflamed or discolored gills as well as lethargy. This makes sense since the fish come in contact with the heavy metals through their gills and skin. Very interesting research is being done on heavy metal poisoning and fish. Some studies have shown that some species, when exposed to heavy metals, lose certain senses including their sense of smell and electrical vibrations (to sense food). Perhaps apparent appetite loss is a signal because they can’t smell their food. – Just my theory. Other fish species have experienced mental effects where they no longer recognize their eggs and instead of protecting them, they eat them. Heavy metal poisoning in humans has also been known to cause mental damage. Like humans, heavy metal poisoning seems to affect young fish more seriously. Older fish, though, are by no means safe.
    You guys have really made me more interested in this topic. I will see if I can put together an article on heavy metal poisoning and aquarium fish in the coming weeks. For the record though, I don’t believe any specific studies have been done with betta fish.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just wondering,
    I got a betta yesterday and I was wondering if I can use this Water conditioner in his tank. It is a few years old because I had it for my other bettas a few years ago. Is a the conditioner safe even after a few years? It is called Splendid Betta Complete Water Conditioner. PLEASE respond!
    -New Betta Owner

  4. stephanie says:

    I have well water and i was nervous about putting my betta in it so i got the tablets that are for cleansing tap water and hoped that would help…. she seems happy.

  5. Kate says:

    I am on well water and discovered after taking a water sample to PetSmart that it was better if I used water from the outside faucet. Our tap water goes through a water conditioner, and I can speak from experience when I say that whatever the water conditioner removes or replaces kills fish. The water from outside bypasses the conditioner, and seems to be fine for fish. I can’t stress how important a test of your water is, /especially/ if you are on well water.

  6. jacki says:

    I use to use tap water and then conditioned it but I just moved and we now have well water… Our water was very hard so we got a softner and in that is a filtration system.. I still put the conditioner in the water is that necessary?

  7. Care says:

    I just got a betta and he’s died within three days. Is this likely because of my well water? I treated it with the cleaner… but I can’t think of any other reasons as I was feeding it and the temp was norm. We did have dragon fish for a couple of weeks and they died as well.

  8. Jack says:

    I’m getting a betta fish tomorrow and I’m worried about our tap water it is well water and has no chlorine

  9. Vinnie says:

    Hello I am going to be getting a betta fish. and have well water. I have a on the tap water filter. is this ok to use for his Vase? What about store bottled water?

  10. Sarg. Bluie sent me says:

    My betta is on well water and is doing very well I do use a water conditioner that has almond leaf extract in it and I do not use water that has been through the water heater in case it picks up things that are bad for fish.

  11. Rosyshyspirit says:

    I’ve never had a fish before, and I really want a betta. However, I don’t know much about them, so I have no idea what kind of tank to get, or what kind of food to feed my fish. If you could give me some brand ideas that are available in Canada, that would be great.
    P.S. What gender of betta is more friendly?

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