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Fish/My Well Water


I know you're an expert on Cichlids in particular, but I have an urgent question about Betta fish. (but I don't think in this case Bettas would be different, though not sure)

So, we just moved yesterday to a new house (4 hours from our old house) and brought our 3 betta fish along.

In our old house, the one we moved out of yesterday, we had City water. I always conditioned it w/ chlorine & chlorimine remover.

So now, our NEW house has well water. We haven't tested it yet & probably won't be able to for quite a few weeks/several months. But my mom says it smells like it has a TINY bit of Sulfur in it. We know it doesn't have any chlorine/chloramines so I didn't use conditioner.

Anyway, we got to the new house & warmed the temp. to 75 degrees. I made sure the well water coming out of the tap wasn't a different temp from the fish cups, and that the flow was very low. Then, over about 3 hours, I slowly added the new water to the cups, while pouring out the old water. When there was only new water in the fish cups, I filled up their tanks (a 1 gal, 2 gal, & 10 gal) w/ new water of the right temp.

Anyway, after I changed to the well water, all the fish got 10 TIMES more bright & active! (one of the fish has always been weak for some reason, so it was amazing to see him perk up right in front of my eyes after putting him in well water; the other 2 were already healthy but got even MORE so only a few minutes after adding the new water!!!)

But, even after having them in the new well water all night & they still seem WAY better than fine, I'm worried because I just read online that there can be heavy metals in well water, that can kill fish. Like I said, we can't get it tested for a long time!

Is the fact that the fish have been so bright & active in the new (untested) well water for almost a full day now (at least 12 hours) enough to go on? Or might there still be something that could kill them later that doesn't AT ALL affect them now?

Can I just leave them in the new well water & watch them carefully & remove them IF they show bad signs, or do I have to remove them now just in case? How long do heavy metal poisoning symtoms take to develop?

Sorry for writing such a LONG letter!!

But this is URGENT, so please respond very soon!


Hi Miriam,
  Any well water could have heavy metals but I would hope that they would be at very low levels and not have any significant effect on your fish (or you for that matter, assuming that you drink the same well water).  Heavy metal poisoning would take a long time (months, years) not days unless the well water was totally toxic in which case you should not drink it at all.

It sounds like your fish are telling you that they like the new water much more than the old city water.

-- Ron Coleman
  Cichlid Research Home Page <>


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Ron Coleman


I am an expert on cichlid fishes, particularly New World cichlids. My broader expertise includes the behavior, ecology and reproduction of fishes in general. (I am NOT an expert on Goldfish). Please do not use abbreviations, such as "my GT has a swollen eye" because I don't know what a "GT" is. The more clearly you can explain your question, the better chance I have of understanding what it is that you seek. I keep fishes both as a scientist and as a hobbyist and I currently maintain about 140 aquariums.


I am an Associate Professor at the California State University, Sacramento in the Department of Biological Sciences, and I run a website, called the Cichlid Research Home Page . I also write for many popular aquarist magazines, and I was editor of Cichlid News magazine for several years. I am a scientist and I spend my time teaching fish biology, ecology, behavior and evolution and doing research on the reproductive biology of fishes, particularly cichlids. I do research in the laboratory and in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico. My main interest is understanding the evolution of parental care in fishes. I am interested in encouraging greater public awareness, understanding and participation in science.

Cichlid News, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, Science, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, Copeia, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, AUK, Environmental Biology of Fishes

PhD (Toronto, 1993) MSc (Simon Fraser, 1986) BSc (British Columbia, 1983)

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