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jillybeanrocks June 25th, 2008 01:52 PM

Betta's Water
When I got my betta (Tony) a year and a half ago I had him at work with me, he had treated city water. I have since left that job and brought him home. My hubby and I live on an acreage and our water comes from a well. The water from the well has quite high mineral content, we get rust-like streaks in the toilet bowl and if water is left on the drying cutlery it will leave a buildup of minerals.

Tony initially adjusted well to the change in water (8 months ago). Lately we notice he's been almost lethargic, he just sits on his plant and sleeps. I have taken in water samples and also bought water testing strips for at home. All of them say that the hardness is through the roof and the pH is a little high. I bought a solution that says it will bring the hardness and pH down but I notice that it's not really working that well.

Is there anything else I can do to bring the hardness down? Is this what is causing him to be lethargic? I have heard that betta's only live until about 2 years old, so could it be old age?

Thanks in advance!


MyBirdIsEvil June 25th, 2008 04:59 PM

What are your gH, kH, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and any other parameters you have information on? What is your betta housed in, a bowl or a tank, filtered or unfiltered?

Please do NOT attempt to lower the pH of your water with chemicals. The chemicals in products such as pH down generally consist of acid which can be dangerous to play with and will not stablize your water at a lower pH anyway. You can instead end up with pH fluctuations which are much more dangerous.

Your water may be to blame for your bettas behavior but it is not necessarily the gH or pH themselves. Most fish can adjust to a relatively high pH or gH. The things in your water CAUSING the higher pH and gH could be the issue.
If you have well water it could contain harmful contaminants. Even if you are just using the water for yourselves you may want to have a full test done by a lab to see what kind of metals and other contaminants are present.

If you do think your well water is the issue then it may be better for you to use RO/DI or distilled water and adjust the parameters yourself.
Note: you can NOT use straight RO or distilled water since there is no buffering capacity to stablize your pH. You will have to use a product such as RO RIGHT which contains necessary buffering and minerals, or experiment with baking soda to add buffering to your water. (I would recommend simply using RO RIGHT since it would be the most convenient and safest).

You can also try mixing distilled water with your well water for a short term solution. If nothing else it will at least lower the level of contaminants. Again, do NOT use straight distilled water, there is no buffering to stablize your pH.

Here is a simply explanation of kH, gH and pH
but there is much more to know than what is written there.

Of course, your water may not even be his issue. Maybe he's just bored. It's not really uncommon for a betta just to sit there when he's bored. He could be old or sick.
My first betta just died not that long ago at 2 yrs old, so they don't necessarily live that long. He was extremely healthy, lived in a filtered tank and had no issues whatsoever that we could see, he just died one day. Storebought bettas aren't really bred for health and longevity so don't feel too bad if yours doesn't have an extremely long life span.

jillybeanrocks June 26th, 2008 01:17 PM

Tony is in a 3 gallon, filtered aquarium. We got him a 10 gallon aquarium, got it all ready for him and put him in it. He hated every second of being in that aquarium, he stayed at the top and would not even explore it. We took him out and put him back in his 3 gallon and he was happy again.

I'm sorry, I forgot to bring my test kit to work with me today so I'm unsure of the exact values for the KH and GH. I do, however, remember that the ammonia and nitrate levels are both zero and the pH is between 8-8.5. Which, by reading that site, I discovered has a direct relation to the elevated KH.

I agree that the well water could have some contaminants, I will have to do some research on where to take my water to get tested. I was considering getting some jugs and bringing home some city water from work and treating that to mix half and half with his water... like you said to decrease the level of contaminants.

Tony has been fine in the water up until about a month and a half ago. He may just be getting old :sad: but I understand that their lifespan isn't very long so I half expected it.

I'd like to get the water issue resolved, though, because I still have the 10 gallon aquarium up and running with nothing in it. I'd like to get some sort of fish for it to add some life to the living room. Obviously this is the same water so fixing Tony's water will also fix the 10 gallon.

MyBirdIsEvil June 26th, 2008 09:21 PM

Yeah I have a betta that oddly enough seems happier in a 2g unfiltered than a 20g w/ filter. I do change the water 100% every day on his tank since it's not filtered, but it's only 2g so not a big deal to me (not when I have so many other tanks I have to mess with anyway lol).

Keep in mind that if you mix distilled or lower pH water with your bettas water the pH may NOT go down in his tank since you likely have a very high [B]k[/B]H. Higher buffering means less pH changes, which is GOOD even if the pH doesn't noticably drop.
The main thing is bringing that [B]g[/B]H value down and also lowering your overall total disolved solids (a TDS meter would actually come in handy for you and they're fairly cheap) and contaminants. If the pH stays at 8 or 8.5 that's not a huge deal so don't worry about it. The other parameters are much more important as long as your pH is stable.

Hopefully that made sense, I'm not always too good at explaining this stuff lol.

jillybeanrocks June 27th, 2008 11:20 AM

First off, thank you MyBirdIsEvil, I appreciate your help!

So, I brought my test kit in to work with me today to give you exact values. I only have those 5 in 1 test strips that test for a multitude of things for both fresh and salt water. I realize I will probably have to get a kit that tests for harndess alone to get something more accurate.

I was incorrect yesterday stating that the ammonia level was zero, this kit only tests for nitrates and nitrites, but both of those are zero. The pH is anywhere between 8-8.5. The KH is well over 240 ppm, the color is a lot darker on the strip then the scale goes. The GH is says it's zero, but I somehow have a hard time believing that. It does say the GH is for fresh water, but I do have a little bit of aquarium salt in his water, so maybe that's altering the results? :confused:

Will the little bit of salt I added affect the KH or GH? I read on a site dedicated to bettas that a little bit of aquarium salt will help to fight off any disease. I put about a tablespoon in the water when I do every 3rd water change, I realize that the salt doesn't evaporate so I figured that every 3rd water change will get all the excess salt out.

MyBirdIsEvil June 27th, 2008 04:24 PM

You would pretty much have to be adding enough salt to kill your betta for it to alter any readings. Regardless, I don't personally believe that adding salt regularly serves any purpose, ESPECIALLY if you already have water with a ton of different minerals and stuff in it. It's just not necessary. The only time I use salt is when I'm treating ich.
Even if you do decide to add regularly, a tablespoon is way too much for a 3g tank. I use a tablespoon per 5g when treating ich and that's an elevated dose.

That gH reading makes me question the accuracy of the test kit. You don't get mineral deposits and discoloration with extremely soft water.

Use several strips and compare, do they even have the same readings?

I bought those same strips a few years ago and they never read correctly compared to my liquid kit.

jillybeanrocks June 27th, 2008 05:20 PM

Yes, the results have always been the same. I will pick up a kit that tests specifically for hardness and let you know what I find out.

I will also stop putting in the salt and see what happens!

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