Last August I decided to by a new 10 gallon tank and buy a new Betta. I set my tank up and went to a local Spring source where people get drinking water from a pipe coming out of the mountain. I had the fish store test and set up my tank and my beautiful Betta dies within a few days.

So just cleaned the tank. I kept it going all this time with no fish just a piece of drift wood and one live plant. Then I filled it with distilled water. Should I add aquarium salt? And how long do I need to wait before adding my Betta?

Also, I do have a large piece of real drift wood purchased from a fish store in the tank. I understand the tannins are beneficial.

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    I would strongly suggest researching what cycling a tank is before adding any fish to a newly setup aquarium. There's a good chance the water itself had nothing to do with the beta's death, if the tank wasn't cycled.
    – Jestep
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


One thing I have to ask first–is there any particular reason you don't want to use your tap water? In many cases, as long as you add a dechlorinator (easy to find, cheap, lasts a long time for small amounts of water) tap water is perfectly fine for common fish like bettas. Otherwise, you're looking at buying a lot of distilled water and remineralizer for weekly water changes.

As a commenter said, I doubt the water source was the problem with your first betta. A new fish tank, even with a filter, will not be safe for fish until bacteria grow in the filter. Why? Because these bacteria will consume the fish's chief waste product, ammonia, and (after a couple more steps) excrete it as nitrate, which is far less toxic. A newly set up tank, without frequently replenishing the water, will rapidly accumulate ammonia which will painfully poison the fish. If you didn't know this—and the fish shop should tell you these things, but many don't know or don't bother–then that is the likely reason the fish didn't make it. Another possibility with bettas is heat; if you didn't heat the tank, it never had a hope for a long life. Bettas are tropical fish that need at least 77 degrees Fahrenheit water temperatures or else become sluggish and very prone to illness.

As for aquarium salt, don't bother. It is an option if the fish gets sick, but there is not salt in these fish's native waters and it adds more risk than potential benefit.

Ideally, you would wait until these aforementioned bacteria have grown in the filter before you add the betta. To describe how to do this in detail is beyond the scope of this question, but the gist of it is that you need to artificially add waste to the tank to feed the bacteria. This process takes patience and ideally some water tests to verify that things are working. See here for some more info. If you don't want to wait for this bacteria growth process to occur (known as "cycling"), then it doesn't matter how long you wait to add the fish...just make sure you change out about 25% of the water every 2-3 days for the first month or two you have it in there.


You definitely need to add minerals to the distilled water. Fish require minerals for a variety of reasons.

You have several options for remineralizing the water. Remineralizers generally fall into two categories: the solid powdered form and liquid. Solids are cheaper, but usually require preparing the water and letting it rest before adding to the tank. Whereas the liquid remineralizers can be mixed with water and added to the tank immediately.

A quick google search should lead you to some options. You just want to be sure that the remineralizer you choose is optimal for Bettas. Some are targeted at the mineral requirements of specific species.

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