Can Goldfish Live In Tap Water? (Untreated vs Treated Tap Water)

Most people at a young age love the idea of fishkeeping, and are keen to get into the hobby themselves. In these cases, there is often one fish that is the go-to choice for almost everyone: goldfish. However, whether you are young or old, we are given the impression that goldfish can survive in tap water. Is that true? Well, they too require a healthy atmosphere and environment to thrive, so just bringing a goldfish home and dropping it into a tank full of tap water is not the right move. Just because you can drink the tap water, does not mean it is treated for their safekeeping. Over a short period of time, any goldfish left in untreated tap water will die out. How do you create the right habitat?

Problems With Untreated Tap Water

The tap water we get is not natural water obviously, rather it comes with a mixture of chemicals in it that allow for us to drink it without incurring any diseases. This includes chlorine or chloramine and metals such as zinc and lead.

All these chemicals not only rid the water of bacteria such as microbes, but also clear the water out. Something that people usually do not know is that goldfish actually live in murky waters naturally. Thus, dropping them into chemically tempered water without suitable conditions is not going to provide them with a long lifespan.

Chlorine/Chloramine Effect in Tap Water

Natural water can contain a multitude of different living microorganisms that are harmful to the human body, and chlorine comes in very handy with that. It kills these bacteria and microbes, allowing us to drink the water safely. Some areas also use chloramine, which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia in the water.

While these are created in order to help us drink the water, it completely rids the organic aura of the water that goldfish live in. Furthermore, they are just toxic to the goldfish, and affect their gills. This causes problems in their respiratory functions, and over time, the goldfish die in the tap water.

Detrimental to Beneficial Bacteria

Chlorine is quite helpful in destroying the bacteria in the water, and this can be helpful in making the water safe for your fish, right? Well, it also brings about a bad side. Naturally beneficial bacteria also form in underwater ecosystems, and they are necessary for helping in the nitrogen cycle. They act as biological filtration systems, and without them, an aquarium will really suffer. Unfortunately, chlorine or chloramine will also destroy these bacteria, making it hard for your fish to survive even further.

High Percentage of Heavy Metals in Tap Water

Tap water, varying from place to place, can consist of various types of heavy metals in the water ranging from zinc to lead. They are not only harmful to the fish that have to live in this water, but also to us, but only in large quantities. Fish however, are affected in small amounts that are already present in the unfiltered tap water. Constant exposure to such water can cause severe damage to fish, and eventually lead to death.

Creating Safe Water For Goldfish

With all of these destructive substances present in tap water, how do you keep your goldfish safe? They are known to be very messy creatures, and having just a water filter won’t be enough for them. So, what to do?

Water Conditioner

Usage of this substance will require you to do some research beforehand, so that you know you are getting the right one for your needs. Water conditioners are found in every aquarium store, and there are different kinds.

Some conditioners will remove just the chlorine or chloramine from your water, whereas others can eradicate certain heavy metals as well. For this reason, you will need to first learn about the tap water in your area, and what substances are present in it. After that, just buy a conditioner that fits the bill for your needs, and the problem will be solved easily!

Filtering or Treating Water Beforehand

This is the more premium option as it builds up in cost over time. However, you do get a bit more convenience out of this option. Pre-filtered or treated water can be bought at aquarium stores too, and can be added directly to your aquarium. However, it does not diminish the need for making water changes regularly, hence, the cost can build up very fast.


Q. How do you clean a goldfish tank?

Cleaning your goldfish’s tank requires a few specific tasks. You will need to clear out all the algae that has formed, make water changes for at least 1/3 of the tank with freshwater, and clear out any debris that has been left in the tank. There are various tools to help you deal with these issues, and proper research should be done to find the right ones. Cleaning your fish tank is essential, and must be done on a proper schedule. Make sure to always use the water you scooped out of the tank to clean any ornaments, sponges, etc that will go back in the tank, otherwise you will kill the beneficial bacteria.

Q. Does boiling tap water make it safe for goldfish?

Boiling water only kills the bacteria and pathogens in the water, however it does not clean the water chemically. This means that the chlorine/chloramine and heavy metals will still remain in the water, making it essentially a useless thing to do. You need to chemically treat the water with a water conditioner to make sure you got rid of the chemical additions in it.

Q. How long do fish survive in untreated tap water?

Goldfish will not survive more than a day or two when being exposed to untreated tap water. As soon as they are in these waters, they will start to be affected, and their bodies will sustain long term damage. You will even be able to notice the fish being completely uncomfortable in the water because of the damage it faces. So, it is best to never keep your fish in untreated tap water.

The Takeaway

Hopefully our article has been helpful for you to learn why to never keep your goldfish in unfiltered tap water. Not only is it bad for them, but it is also quite painful, and will leave long term damage on them. If you are planning to buy goldfish, make sure to keep a prepared tank with the necessary tools in place. Otherwise, you won’t have them for long.

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