Spring Water And Betta Death Questions

Rylan
  • #1
So the situation is that I am on a water softener. Heavily softened it’s not normal water and it can’t be bypassed. I don’t have easy access to unsoftened regular tap water to cut with RO water. And the idea of replenishing distilled RO water with seachem replenish and all of that seems even more likely to go wrong especially for a beginner like me. So can Spring Water be used instead? Is that just as likely to be unstable and risky?

The tank parameters on the “softened” water have all been normal. The tank is cycled and the readings are always at a consistent 0, 0, 5 nitrates.
I’ve been trying to keep Bettas. The tank is heated filtered, cycled and regularly maintained as it’s supposed to be, but no matter what I do my Bettas die suddenly without any visible signs of problems and I’m starting think it’s the water softener that’s slowly killing my fish.

The first fish death I assumed was due to my inexperience. Water tests for that one came out with possible too high nitrates in a smaller tank. Was using test strips at the time so it’s possible the test here was inaccurate.

2nd fish death I THINK was to due to an inefficient heater in winter but the thermometers all read an even 78. Still I decided at this point to get a larger tank and adjustable heaters and keep a backup. Water parameters were 0, 0, 10.

3rd fish died today and woke up this morning it was dead in the middle of the tank. It was active and swimming the night before. I tested water immediately upon finding him as I have for all the other fish and again nothing is amiss. 0, 0, 5
This last one was especially sudden. I found this one out in the open in the middle of the tank, with bowels having been evacuated during or after death (the feces was a normal color). This might sound crazy but I think it’s a possibility it had epilepsy?

It would go through random bouts of dormancy/lethargic/lazy which I noticed the first week I had him. He mostly was an extremely active fish and every time he did this I would freak out and check the parameters . And every time it happened nothing was wrong with water tests or temp and I couldn’t figure it out. I’d post here and everyone here said he was probably just being lazy. So I stopped worrying too much about it especially since he’d return to normal behavior a day or two later. But just before the last episode of lethargy I think I saw the fish experiencing what looked like a seizure. I once had a dog with epilepsy and it too would rest A LOT for the following two days after a seizure. And the pieces seemed to fit as I had noticed this particular fish would be weirdly twitchy just before or after his bouts of lethargy, but given I’ve never heard of fish epilepsy I’m sure I could be wrong. But none of the other fish experienced this type of behavior.

Any help you can offer on what I should do next with my empty tank is much appreciated. Should I try spring water? Is that even the problem? Am I just cursed? None of the fish lasted much longer than three months. The second fish only lasted 2 weeks.
 
psalm18.2
  • #2
If the tank is small enough I'd try the spring water myself.
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
If the tank is small enough I'd try the spring water myself.
It’s a ten gallon. I supposed I could drop to a five if I had to. I’m sure it’s possible the fish deaths are unrelated but I just have a feeling the softener has made the water excessively unnatural though I know some members here have kept fish with a water softener and harder water than mine without issue.
 
r5n8xaw00
  • #4
Spring water is just fine to use, but do not use distilled water. Distilled water does not have any nutrients in it that fish need.
 
psalm18.2
  • #5
I'm not familiar with softeners so can't offer advice. I was thinking of cost for spring water. A small tank should be cheap enough to maintain at 50 cents or so a gallon.
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Spring water is just fine to use, but do not use distilled water. Distilled water does not have any nutrients in it that fish need.
Thanks! I hope that the switch over stops the unexplained deaths. It’s the only thing I can think of as I’ve closely monitored the usual culprits. Is there a danger of ph swings with Spring water as much as there is with Distilled RO?
 
BBnL
  • #7
$.89 up to $1.10 here!!!
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
$.89 up to $1.10 here!!!
That’s on the higher side. I guess since these fish are the only pets I keep it’s not so bad in retrospect to shell out a bit for spring water instead of pounds of dog food for my dream dog: a Great Dane (sigh) maybe someday.
 
BBnL
  • #9
Great danes, from conscientious breeder, are awesome, love 'em. Just be careful if online sellers
 
Sergeant Pepper
  • #10
What was the distance in time between getting new fish --->fish death? If the fish died rather quickly, I'd suspect possibly bad acclimation? Or, how are you doing water changes? If the temp is rapidly changing from old to new water, that can shock a fish.
Lots of people have issues with fish deaths right after a water change. Perhaps not adding conditioner by mistake, rapid changes in temp, or maybe a pH swing.
In the tank, what kind of filter are you using?
 
r5n8xaw00
  • #11
Thanks! I hope that the switch over stops the unexplained deaths. It’s the only thing I can think of as I’ve closely monitored the usual culprits. Is there a danger of ph swings with Spring water as much as there is with Distilled RO?
There is no danger from spring water ph is stable. I have used it a lot in the past, and it worked ok for me. One way to keep cost down is to buy one of those five gallon bottles of water from Walmart, then use the water dispenser there to refill it. The bottle of water is expensive to start with but refilling it is cheap, a lot cheaper then to keep buying spring water in throw away bottles. This is conditioned water for drinking and not distilled water, so it will still be good to use.
 
KimberlyG
  • #12
If you buy the same brand of spring water every time, it should be coming from the same aquifer. I would not expect a problem.
 
r5n8xaw00
  • #13
Little history about my betta experience...I was not gentle. I just didn't know any better at the time. At first I had my betta in one of those little plastic betta containers from Petsmart. He survived in it for a week. This was until I learned better. Now two months later, he survived and is doing great in a 29g. So my belive is that Bettas are hardy fish, at least mine is. But it is always possible to get bad stock to begin with, and I just got lucky.
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
What was the distance in time between getting new fish --->fish death? If the fish died rather quickly, I'd suspect possibly bad acclimation? Or, how are you doing water changes? If the temp is rapidly changing from old to new water, that can shock a fish.
Lots of people have issues with fish deaths right after a water change. Perhaps not adding conditioner by mistake, rapid changes in temp, or maybe a pH swing.
In the tank, what kind of filter are you using?
I waited a almost month between fish deaths and ran the tank fishless in between that time. Probably two to three weeks.

First fish died after three months, just before his water change day.

2nd fish midweek after water change.

3rd fish two days after water change.

I dosed the with dr. Tims ammonia to keep cycle going while it was without fish and did an 80% water change the day before I went out to buy new fish. I spent over an hour acclimating the fish upon addition by adding a little tank water every 15min.

The tank is on sponge filter and has been setup since September of last year. First fish died after three months. Water change schedule is 30% weekly, treated with seachem prime and temp matched within one degree to the tanks 80f temperature. This last fish was purchased the last week of December. His water was changed Friday afternoon. He passed sometime this morning. I’ve kept a log of the water changes and didn’t notice a connection there with the deaths. The tank water comes from the same source the water from tap and tank is a stable 8.0

Little history about my betta experience...I was not gentle. I just didn't know any better at the time. At first I had my betta in one of those little plastic betta containers from Petsmart. He survived in it for a week. This was until I learned better. Now two months later, he survived and is doing great in a 29g. So my belive is that Bettas are hardy fish, at least mine is. But it is always possible to get bad stock to begin with, and I just got lucky.
Yeah the number of posts on here sick Betta even with those who’ve tried really hard makes me wonder how hardy really are, but then you have people who don’t even research and brag how their multiple fish lived a 3 years in a vase. I think it depends on the fish, some Betta are hardy but some not so much. Thanks for your help!
 
Sergeant Pepper
  • #15
Do you get the fish from the same store? Have you noticed any symptoms? Like being lethargic, lazy, less active, not eating?
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Do you get the fish from the same store? Have you noticed any symptoms? Like being lethargic, lazy, less active, not eating?
All three were from different stores.

First fish appetite decreased toward the end.

2nd fish wasn’t until the day he died. Displays stress strips. I suspected the heater and thermostat was giving out, but the time I got home with a new one he was dead and tank water felt cold.

I noticed lethargy in the third fish but sporadically. I’d ask here and test the water everything looked fine and his fins and color were always bright. Even when I found him this morning he was still really bright. He was still cruising when I turned his light off for the night
 
Sergeant Pepper
  • #17
How strange. Perhaps try that spring water route then. See how that works out. I've never really had any issues with my Betta. But every fish situation is different.
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
How strange. Perhaps try that spring water route then. See how that works out. I've never really had any issues with my Betta. But every fish situation is different.
Thanks for the help! I kinda wish it were a cut and dry fish keeper error!
 
BBnL
  • #19
How long do these poor guys spend in the tiny bowls on shelves of stores before they are adopted???? Wouldn't it be easy to buy one already severely stressed, even old, with no way to know? And then odds of getting 'hardy' specimen really a gamble. Always at least 20 on my LFS, just in tiny bowls.
Maybe nothing you did at all .
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
How long do these poor guys spend in the tiny bowls on shelves of stores before they are adopted???? Wouldn't it be easy to buy one already severely stressed, even old, with no way to know? And then odds of getting 'hardy' specimen really a gamble. Always at least 20 on my LFS, just in tiny bowls.
Maybe nothing you did at all .
Yeah that true! There’s really no way to know for sure what you’re getting
 
r5n8xaw00
  • #21
Please don't think I am referring to you when I say this, just trying to help.This doesn't apply to bettas but I have a rule not to buy fish from a tank where I see dead fish. With bettas are any fish, I take my time study them before I buy them. So many people while looking at the bettas do not take their time and watch them for awhile. They pick the one with the color they like or the fin type they find more appealing. When really one should study how healthy the they are and pick the one that looks the healthiest. I almost bought another betta recently, a dumbo betta, it was white and beautiful. I have not seen any like it before in Petco. As I was watching it close I seen a bare spot right behind its head, it looked bad. If I had only gotten caught up on how beautiful the betta was and the desire to bring it home, I might have never seen the bad spot. I turned and walked away. Broke my heart to do so, but there was something wrong with it and I didn't want to take the chance.
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Please don't think I am referring to you when I say this, just trying to help.This doesn't apply to bettas but I have a rule not to buy fish from a tank where I see dead fish. With bettas are any fish, I take my time study them before I buy them. So many people while looking at the bettas do not take their time and watch them for awhile. They pick the one with the color they like or the fin type they find more appealing. When really one should study how healthy the they are and pick the one that looks the healthiest. I almost bought another betta recently, a dumbo betta, it was white and beautiful. I have not seen any like it before in Petco. As I was watching it close I seen a bare spot right behind its head, it looked bad. If I had only gotten caught up on how beautiful the betta was and the desire to bring it home, I might have never seen the bad spot. I turned and walked away. Broke my heart to do so, but there was something wrong with it and I didn't want to take the chance.
I know what you mean! I’ve got the same rule. I actually recently reported petco employee for taking really terrible care of the fish. It’s sad sometimes to have to walk away from them.
 
Skye_marilyn
  • #23
I know what you mean! I’ve got the same rule. I actually recently reported petco employee for taking really terrible care of the fish. It’s sad sometimes to have to walk away from them.
I’ve only ever used spring water from sprouts market for all my bettas from day one, I still dose conditioner and wonder shells for reasons that are complicated and go further into water chemical science but I’ve never had an issue. I recommend testing a few different brands from different stores to see how their ph is, it took me a while to find one that sat at a good 7 and was consistent. The water I use tends to lean more towards the soft side but becomes more alkaline as the days go by in the aquarium. If you stick to one store with one brand you won’t see very much ph variations. Now that I’m doing more large aquariums I can’t keep up with $1 per gallon of water so I’m looking into Big Berky water filters for my tap water. I don’t use tap water for a few reasons: A: I live in LA and our city water is full of chemicals (sometimes discolored as well) B: I don't drink tap water, why should they? Your tap water could easily be running through lead, copper, or even rusty pipes which no amount of dechlorinator will change, C: it only takes one slip up with the dosages for your fish to suffer permanent gill damage from being exposed to chlorine or chloramine in the water. Unless you plan on shelling out a few hundred bucks for a high tech tap water filter (which isn’t necessary for tanks under 15 gal but is better for the long run) I recommend finding a spring water that suits your needs.
 
Rylan
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
I’ve only ever used spring water from sprouts market for all my bettas from day one, I still dose conditioner and wonder shells for reasons that are complicated and go further into water chemical science but I’ve never had an issue. I recommend testing a few different brands from different stores to see how their ph is, it took me a while to find one that sat at a good 7 and was consistent. The water I use tends to lean more towards the soft side but becomes more alkaline as the days go by in the aquarium. If you stick to one store with one brand you won’t see very much ph variations. Now that I’m doing more large aquariums I can’t keep up with $1 per gallon of water so I’m looking into Big Berky water filters for my tap water. I don’t use tap water for a few reasons: A: I live in LA and our city water is full of chemicals (sometimes discolored as well) B: I don't drink tap water, why should they? Your tap water could easily be running through lead, copper, or even rusty pipes which no amount of dechlorinator will change, C: it only takes one slip up with the dosages for your fish to suffer permanent gill damage from being exposed to chlorine or chloramine in the water. Unless you plan on shelling out a few hundred bucks for a high tech tap water filter (which isn’t necessary for tanks under 15 gal but is better for the long run) I recommend finding a spring water that suits your needs.
Thanks for the detailed answer! I guess that’s going to be my project for a few weeks: testing spring water parameters. If that’s what works for you I think I’ll go ahead and test that and the brands other users mentioned. Hopefully the search won’t be too lengthy. Maybe some day for a high tech filter. I’ve considered the possibility but since I rent at the moment it wouldn’t be worth it.
 

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