Can You Use Spring Water In A Fish Tank? 6 Reasons You Can’t!

Feb 1, 2022

Can You Use Spring Water In A Fish Tank

Spring water… doesn’t it sound so fresh and refreshing? To put it simply, spring is a place from where water moving underground finds an opening to land and emerges. Sometimes, it’s just a trickle – and sometimes, a continuous flow. 

Today, spring water is a popular form of bottled water. So, it comes from groundwater that exists underground in an aquifer that sits at or below the earth’s natural water table. 

Ok, enough… let’s come to the point now. Can you use spring water in a fish tank? As healthy as it is to us, does it impart benefits to fish?

Let’s find out! 

Can You Use Spring Water In A Fish Tank?

Spring water varies in composition depending on where you live. The mineral composition and pH level can differ profoundly. Therefore, there’s a good chance that the properties of spring water found in your region vary from what your fish need. If the parameters are wrong or become unstable, your fish will live an impoverished life. 

What I found during my research was that spring water can be helpful if you need to lower the water’s hardness or pH. But besides the obvious drawback that price is, the main caveat, in my opinion, is that the mineral content varies from brand to brand.

Therefore, if you insist on using spring water in your fish tank, I’d recommend buying several different brands at first and testing each of them for pH, gH, and kH before picking one that closely suits your fish’s needs. 

Below, I’ll lay down some reasons why spring water may not be a good choice for fish tanks. I came across a few hobbyists who have been using spring water without any hiccups yet, but in my opinion, the stakes are too high. The risk isn’t simply worth it. 

6 Reasons Why Spring Water Is Not Suitable For Fish Tank 

  • As pristine as spring water may look, it may still be heavily contaminated with different sorts of drilling, industrial, and farming chemicals. They can also contain harmful traces of pesticides that can be outright harmful to your fish. 

  • Untreated spring water is often infected with bacteria and viruses. Hence, they can pave the way for unwanted infections and infestations in the tank. As a result, there’s a good chance your fish will become infested with parasites that can turn deadly if you don’t intervene at the right time. 

  • Most kinds of spring water brands available in the US have a high acidic value. And most tropical fish that we tend to raise don’t come from waters where the pH is acidic. So keeping your fish in highly acidic water won’t just burn their skin left and right but also kill them painfully slow. 

  • Spring water often doesn’t contain the right minerals in the right amount required for pH buffering. The absence of minerals and the consequent lack of pH buffering will create instability in the tank, proving deadly in some instances. 

  • Spring water is often treated with chlorine to eradicate germs and harmful bacteria. And while chlorinated water is beneficial for us, it’s super toxic for fish. In fish, the chlorine will kill the living cells – often damaging the fish’s sensitive gills and causing respiratory illnesses. 

  • Spring water’s pH value and mineral content vary from region to region. Therefore, it can most likely mess up your tank’s pH value and hardness – making the water inhospitable for the fish at the end. 

  • While researching for this article, I scoured through at least a dozen different forums. And I have collected a bunch of answers from real hobbyists on what they have to say about using spring water in fish tanks. 

Do you want to know what they said? Keep reading! 

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Can You Use Spring Water In A Fish Tank? Real Answers!

Note: All opinions expressed belong to their respective authors!

“You might be better off using reverse osmosis water and remineralizing it. Spring water can come from practically anywhere, and the parameters can change without you knowing at all.”

“Never trust unfamiliar spring water. First, have it tested for pH, hardness, and any trace minerals that can inflict potential harm on your prized fish. You can either test the water through a pet store or purchase a water chemistry testing set.”

“NO. Unless you know exactly what the water contains and in what amounts, it doesn’t belong in a reef tank – or any tank for that matter.”

“Spring water can have high copper, iron, sulfur, sulfate, and any number of other things besides just magnesium and calcium.”

“Do not use regular spring water. There are many chemicals they use in the water that you don’t want in your tank.”

“Read the label. In my region, it has 300 ppm TDS and high alkalinity. 

So, it looks like the answer is “no” – a big, fat no.

But all’s not lost. You can still pull a few tricks to treat spring water for fish tanks. 

How To Treat Spring Water For Aquariums?

If you are using spring water, you must treat the water first. Start by cleaning the tank’s insides and any decorations, rocks, plants, or gravel that’s going to go inside the tank. 

Next, you need to test the water first. You just can’t treat water without testing it first. In the fishkeeping hobby, the 4 main parameters that need to be tested are pH, hardness, carbonate, and bicarbonate. 

If the pH level is too high, you can lower it using chemical treatments, natural wood tannins, peat moss, or RO filtration. On the other hand, if you gotta increase the hardness, you can add baking soda, gravel, and crushed coral. 

The minerals present in the water can pose both advantages and disadvantages. While certain minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron are beneficial for fish, others like copper, lead, and mercury can have life-impairing consequences. 

To ensure the water doesn’t house traces of any unwanted minerals, you need to use a reverse osmosis filtration system. 

RO can get rid of over 99% of impurities, as well as heavy metals and pesticides. Therefore, it’s necessary to treat the water with RO filtration. 

That’s not all. 

You will again have to remineralize and condition the water before adding it into the tank. 

Here are the products we use at Urban Fishkeeping to remineralize and condition water. 

Frankly, it’s a hassle to use spring water for aquariums. You’ll have to go through endless painstaking processes for that. So why not simply use the best alternative, right?

What’s The Best Water To Use In A Fish Tank?

Perhaps the easiest and the best way to provide your pet fish with a safe watery home is to turn on the faucet. It’s just that you need to treat and disinfect the water first so that it’s free of most bacteria and pathogens. 

Just like with spring water, the parameters of tap water can differ widely from location to location. In some areas, tap water contains concentrated amounts of magnesium or iron. In others, tap water can contain traces of asbestos and ammonia, which can be lethal for fish even if present in the slightest amounts. 

And since tap water contains chlorine, you must condition the water and get rid of it using a reliable water conditioner. I have already touched on why chlorine is harmful to fish. 

Besides attacking their gills and compromising their respiratory abilities, the chlorine will also annihilate the good bacteria colony concentrated around your aquarium filter and make the water inhabitable for the fish. 

Here’s what we use and recommend to use to condition tap water – or any other water for that matter! 

  • Gets rid of the chlorine 
  • Buffers pH 
  • Eliminates copper 
  • Detoxifies heavy metals
  • Neutralizes ammonia 
  • Protects fish’s slime coat

And if you want to read up more on the dos and don’ts of conditioning water for aquariums, I’m sure you will find this article helpful

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can You Use Well Water In Fish Tanks?

I’d advise against using well water in fish tanks. While well water is least likely to have chlorine, it may contain other minerals or harmful compounds in god-know-how-much concentrations. 

For instance, agriculture runoff can introduce coliform bacteria and nitrates to the well water through fertilizers. Likewise, in the industrial states, the water may have traces of harmful components like solvents, paints, pesticides, and herbicides.

How To Treat Well Water For An Aquarium? 

You can treat well water following the same steps you would use to treat spring water. But before you test the water, it’s critical to know where the parameters stand and what the ideal parameters for the tank’s soon-to-be inhabitants look like. 

What Fish Can Live In Tap Water? 

As long as the water is treated the right way and the parameters are met for the respective fishes, practically, all fish can live in tap water. 

For instance, livebearers like mollies, swordtails, guppies, and mollies; African and Central American cichlids like demasoni and convict cichlids; and brackish water fish like monos, scats, and archers can live in treated tap water. 

How Long Can Fish Survive In Tap Water?

The answer to this question differs from species to species. While some fish can go on for a couple of days in untreated tap water, others can die within a matter of a few hours. It depends on how hardy the fish is and how it was raised. 

According to one user on Quora, chlorine can destroy the fish’s protective slime coat in at least 30 seconds. So, I’m sure you don’t want to take any chances. 

Final Words: Can You Use Spring Water In A Fish Tank?

Technically, you can use spring water in a fish tank, but it’s a real hassle to treat it and make it safe for aquariums. You’re better off using conditioned tap water. 

The parameters of spring water vary depending on where you live. Often, it’s contaminated with pollutants coming from agricultural and industrial waste. 

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rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.