Home aquariums can enhance your home aesthetic and mood. You know how important it is that your fish have a beneficial aquatic environment so they stay healthy for as long as possible. Selecting a suitable water source for your fish tank can ensure that your fish thrive and enhance your daily life. So, what kind of water can you use for your fish tank?
While various water sources provide fish with beneficial minerals and keep your tank clean and healthy, some sources will suit your fish better than others. Furthermore, different kinds of fish thrive in different kinds of aquatic environments.
Understanding different water sources is an excellent way to choose a mineral-dense and healthy water for the fish in your aquarium. By optimizing your aquarium’s water, you can continue to reap benefits while ensuring the well-being of your fish.
What’s the Best Water for Your Aquarium?
Choosing the best water for your fish tank requires some knowledge and research. You can use various water sources in your fish tank with effective treatment and cleaning methods. Whether you use municipal tap or deionized water, your water must be free from harmful chemicals and pollutants. Understanding various water sources is one of the best ways to select suitable living environments for your fish.
Aquarium Water Sources
When you select a water source for your aquarium, it’s essential to remember that the water you choose will impact the environment your fish live in. While you can use various water types for your fish tank, most require treatment. Direct water sources can work for freshwater fish tanks, while saltwater tanks need a salt mix. Here are some common aquarium water sources:
1. Municipal Tap Water
Municipal tap water free from chlorine and other bacteria is an excellent water source for fish tanks. The quality of your tap water can depend on your location, as some tap water may contain high levels of iron or magnesium.
Other tap water may contain trace amounts of ammonia or asbestos. Tap water can also have more impurities like bacteria and viruses that are toxic to fish. Facilities use chlorine and chloramine to disinfect tap water, but it is possible that some contaminants can remain and impact the tap water quality.
Additionally, chlorine can kill helpful microorganisms, harming fish tank environments. It removes good bacteria that help break down nitrates and ammonia in fish waste. Chlorinated aquarium water may also damage fish gills and impact their breathing quality.
2. Distilled Water
Can you use distilled water in a fish tank? Distilled water goes through a heating and cooling process that removes impurities. If you are using distilled water for your fish tank, you must remineralize it before adding it in.
Manufacturers boil water, remove contaminants and bottle and sell the purified water. The distillation process can remove 99.9% of valuable minerals like calcium and magnesium from water, making it harmful to fish.
Many people use distilled and tap water together in fish tanks. Tap water can be hard and contain impurities, so distilled water is an excellent solution for neutralizing tap water and keeping fish tanks healthy. Distilled water can be affordable, but it depends on the size of your fish tanks. Larger fish tanks will require more water bottles, making distilled water an impractical choice.
Rainwater can be a natural and affordable source for your aquarium. Like various sources, rainwater requires treatment before adding to your fish tank. Rainwater quality can have very low mineral content and be susceptible to air pollutants and other contaminants.
If pollution from nearby factories — or from the chemicals, smoke and exhaust of everyday urban life — is suspended in the air, raindrops can absorb that pollution as they fall. Rainwater that lands on the roof before collection can also pick up asbestos from the shingles.
Rainwater also presents the problems of availability and storage. If you live in an arid climate, rainwater may not always be readily available. You would also need a place to store after you’ve collected it. Testing rainwater quality is essential before using it for your fish.
4. Well Water
While well water is free from chlorine, it can contain other contaminants. Unlike municipal tap water, well water goes through little purification processes, preserving numerous minerals. However, with minimal regulations, harmful minerals like sulfur from rock and soil can contaminate well water. Depending on where you live, well water can also contain various soil contaminants like bacteria and nitrates from fertilizers.
Runoff from an industrial plant can also introduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like the chemicals found in herbicides, pesticides, paints and solvents. Well water can also vary in pH and hardness and it usually contains little oxygen, so it will require aeration before fish can safely live in it.
Before using it for your fish, you must test and adjust the well water.
5. Lake and River Water
When deciding on a water source for your aquarium, lake and river water can seem like excellent choices. They’re where most fish live, so why wouldn’t they be great options?
While lake and river water are natural habitats for many fish, they can be harmful sources for your fish tank. Lake and river water can contain high levels of contaminants. Waste and pollution contaminate lakes and rivers and increase harmful bacteria content. Bacteria and parasites from pollution can impact the water quality and compromise the health of your fish tank.
6. Bottled Water
Bottled water may seem like an ideal solution for your aquarium — it’s marketed as healthy for humans, so it must be great for fish, right? Not exactly. Bottled water can lack beneficial nutrients and contain harmful contaminants.
Bottled water is typically sourced from either well water, filtered water or spring water. It may have gone through filters that remove some of its beneficial components, or it may have extra minerals that are unhealthy for fish. It is essential to test and adjust bottled water before adding it to a fish tank.
Using bottled water for your fish tank can also be costly, especially if you have a big fish tank. You can also require numerous water bottles, making it a time-consuming and impractical option.
7. Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water
Reverse Osmosis water is water that has gone through a reverse osmosis filter.
Osmosis is the natural movement of water from areas of high particle concentration to areas of low particle concentration. Reverse Osmosis switches that process around, sending water through a fine membrane that traps particles on one side and allows clean water to flow through to the other. Reverse Osmosis filters are highly effective and make excellent choices for aquariums, though the water will require remineralization before you add it to the tank.
Reverse Osmosis is excellent at filtering contaminants, including minerals, chlorine and larger bacteria. However, it’s ineffective against some bacteria.
8. Deionized (DI) Water
If you want to be sure your aquarium water is free from mineral and chemical contaminants, deionized water is a great choice. Deionized water is free from contaminants and harmful minerals, so it is excellent for your aquarium. The denotation process can filter out more pollutants than reverse osmosis. It can also remove some good nutrients, and you may need to remineralize water before adding it to your fish tank.
While deionization is ineffective against bacteria, it is one of the best solutions for filtering contaminants and providing a healthy environment. If you use deionized water, you will still need to adjust it before adding it to your tank. The process of deionization tends to strip away essential and harmful minerals, so you will need to remineralize your water to make it optimal for your fish.
Can You Use Spring Water for Your Fish Tank?
While you can use spring water for your fish tank, testing and treating it before adding it to your tank is vital. Bottled spring water can vary in minerals impacting your fish tank environment.
However, spring water has mostly beneficial minerals and properties and can be an excellent option for your fish tank. Spring water can improve your fish’s oxygen levels and enhance their activity. Like most water sources, keeping spring water clean and pollutant-free can ensure that your fish thrive.
How to Condition Water for Your Aquarium
Whatever type of water you use for your aquarium, you’ll need to condition it to make it safe, clean and chemically balanced enough for your fish to thrive. When you condition your aquarium water, consider these parameters:
- pH: pH stands for the power of hydrogen. pH measures the hydronium concentration of your water on a negative logarithmic scale. It determines whether the water in your tank will be acidic or alkaline. The pH shouldn’t be too high or low and should remain constant. Fish species may prefer different pH levels — most freshwater fish do best at a pH between 6.5 and 8.5. Saltwater species may require a more alkaline pH since the average pH of ocean water is about 8.1.
- gH: gH is a measure of general hardness. It measures the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in the water. Different gH levels are optimal for different species of freshwater fish. Water hardness is not generally an issue in saltwater aquariums.
- kH: kH measures the carbonates and bicarbonates in the water. Low levels of carbonates and bicarbonates decrease the water’s ability to buffer pH, leading to large pH swings that could harm the fish.
Your tank should also contain the right balance of good bacteria and minerals and be free from harmful substances.
To condition your tank water, you can test it, figure out what it contains and then add or remove substances until it has reached the desired parameters. For example, you can buy a water conditioner that helps remove chlorine from the tank or add baking soda to increase bicarbonate levels.
Adding Minerals Back to Your Water
If you plan to use distilled water, you may be wondering how to remineralize distilled water for your aquarium — and remember that remineralization is necessary for deionized and reverse osmosis water too.
To add minerals back into a freshwater tank, add a little tap water to the mix. You can also buy a remineralize at the store and add several drops of the remineralizing substance to the tank. With a saltwater tank, your salt mix generally adds minerals and salt.
Trust Long’s EcoWater for High-Quality Aquarium Water
Long’s EcoWater offers quality and expert water solutions. We can help you test your home water and provide filtration systems to keep your aquarium healthy and free of contaminants.
Our water service technicians are experts who can provide tailored solutions to enhance your water quality. Whether you need to reduce water hardness or bacteria, we offer quality products and services to meet your needs. If you live in Allentown, Breinigsville, Macungie, Nazareth or anywhere else in the Lehigh Valley, give us a call.
Contact us today to learn more!