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Can Goldfish Live in Tap Water? 5 Surprising Reasons Why Not!

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Goldfish are often seen as a low-maintenance pet option for children, but the reality is that many goldfish around the world are sacrificed due to the lack of knowledge about their proper care. One of the most common mistakes made by goldfish owners is switching from store-bought water to tap water, which can prove to be fatal for these aquatic creatures. Contrary to popular belief, goldfish can live up to 10-15 years when given the right care.

In this article, we will discuss “Can Goldfish Live in Tap Water?” and Their surprising reasons why not? and the steps that pet owners can take to ensure the long and healthy life of their beloved aquatic pets. From the water condition to the temperature and size of the tank, we will cover all the essential aspects of goldfish care that pet owners need to know to help their pets thrive. By following our tips, pet owners can help their goldfish live a healthy and happy life for many years to come.

Table of Contents

How Long Can Goldfish Survive In Tap Water?

The question of “Can Goldfish Live in Tap Water?” is one that many pet owners have asked themselves. Unfortunately, the answer is no – goldfish cannot survive in untreated tap water for more than a few minutes. This is because the chemicals and toxins present in tap water can burn their lungs, leading to almost instant death.

However, if the pH level of your tap water is within the suitable range for goldfish survival (7.2-7.6), it is safe to use. Unfortunately, the chance of this happening is low, and it is always recommended to avoid putting your fish in untreated tap water.

In the case of an emergency, such as when keeping your goldfish in its aquarium for an extended period will lead to its certain death, you may switch to tap water for a brief period of time. However, it is important to note that even RO water from your filter is not suitable for your fish to be in, as it is overly filtered and lacks the necessary minerals.

Therefore, it is essential to make sure that your pet is back in its suitable water almost immediately and to avoid taking any chances with their health. Goldfish require clean and properly treated water to survive, and it is the responsibility of pet owners to ensure that they receive the necessary care and attention to thrive. In the following article, we will discuss the surprising reasons why goldfish cannot live in tap water and provide tips on how to properly care for your goldfish to ensure a long and healthy life.

What Types of Contaminants Are Found in Tap Water?

When it comes to Tap water, it’s important to understand that there are different types of contaminants that can be present, some of which may pose a risk to human health. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are four primary types of contaminants that can be found in drinking water: physical, chemical, biological, and radiological.

Physical contaminants are those that alter the appearance or other physical properties of water. This can include sediment or organic matter from lakes and rivers that make the water appear cloudy or discolored.

Chemical contaminants are elements or compounds that can be of natural or human origin, such as nitrogen, salts, pesticides, heavy metals, or toxins produced by bacteria. These contaminants can affect the taste and odor of water, as well as its safety for consumption.

Biological contaminants are organisms present in water, such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites. These contaminants can cause illnesses such as diarrhea, cramps, or nausea, and may be especially dangerous for individuals with weakened immune systems.

Radiological contaminants are chemical elements that can emit ionizing radiation, such as uranium or plutonium. These contaminants can increase the risk of cancer and other health problems over time.

As goldfish are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, it’s important to understand the types of contaminants that can be present in tap water and how they can affect the health of your pet. In the following article, we will discuss the surprising reasons why goldfish cannot live in tap water and provide tips on how to properly care for your goldfish to ensure a long and healthy life. If you want to learn more about goldfish care and tank setup, we recommend checking out the best-selling book on Amazon, The Truth About Goldfish.

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Why Is Tap Water Not Suitable for Goldfish?

Tap water is an essential part of our daily lives, and we rely on it for drinking, cooking, and other household needs. However, it may not be suitable for goldfish, as it can contain several contaminants that can be harmful to them. One of the main reasons why tap water is not suitable for goldfish is the presence of chlorine. Chlorine is a disinfectant that is added to drinking water to reduce the presence of microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses. While it is an effective method for reducing the transmission of diseases through water, it can be toxic to goldfish.

Fish, unlike humans and other domestic animals, absorb water directly into their bloodstream through their gills. Therefore, exposure to chlorine damages their gills and can lead to respiratory problems, making tap water a significant risk for goldfish. Additionally, tap water can contain heavy metal residues like copper, zinc, cadmium, and lead, which can weaken a goldfish’s immune system.

The safety of drinking water is managed based on its level of bacteriological and chemical contamination, including natural contaminants and those produced by humans. However, despite treatment processes, the more analysis shows that water is degraded, the higher the treatment requirements, and the risk of contamination remains a concern. While it may be safe for human consumption, tap water can prove fatal to goldfish if not treated correctly. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that the water you provide to your goldfish is free from contaminants and safe for their health.

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Photo by Delbert Pagayona on Unsplash Can Goldfish Live in Tap Water?

What Kind of Water Is Safe for Goldfish?

When it comes to providing safe water for your goldfish, tap water may not always be the best option. However, there are two alternative options that you can choose from.

The first option is to treat tap water with a de-chlorinator. Chlorine is added to tap water as a disinfectant to kill harmful microorganisms, but it can be toxic to fish. A de-chlorinator will remove the chlorine from the water and make it safe for your goldfish to live in. It is important to note that chloramine is another compound used to disinfect drinking water and it can be difficult to remove from the water altogether. Therefore, it is recommended to purchase a water conditioner and de-chlorinator that can remove both chlorine and chloramine. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging.

The second option is to buy pre-conditioned water, also known as “Instant Water”. This option is more expensive but it is simple and ready to use. You can find pre-conditioned water online or at pet stores. You just need to add it to your aquarium and put your goldfish in afterward. However, if you have a very large tank, the long-term costs of using pre-conditioned water may be too high.

It is important to remember that goldfish are sensitive to changes in water quality, so it is crucial to maintain a consistent and safe environment for them to live in. When adding new water to your tank, make sure to match the temperature and pH levels to the existing water in the tank. This will help prevent any shock or stress to your goldfish.

In conclusion, treating tap water with a de-chlorinator or buying pre-conditioned water are two safe options for providing suitable water for your goldfish. Always follow the recommended guidelines to maintain a healthy and happy environment for your aquatic pets.

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Other Water and Filtration Requirements

To provide safe and healthy living conditions for your goldfish, it’s important to install a powerful aquarium water filter that can handle the large amounts of waste that goldfish generate. This will simplify the cleaning process and maintain good water quality.

In addition, goldfish prefer water that is slightly alkaline, with a pH level between 7.0 and 7.4. Keeping the water within this range will ensure that your goldfish stay healthy and happy.

Finally, it’s important to maintain the water temperature at around 68°F. While goldfish can survive colder temperatures, keeping the water at a consistent temperature is essential for their well-being. By following these guidelines, you can provide a safe and comfortable environment for your goldfish to thrive in.


It’s not that goldfish can’t survive in tap water at all, but tap water can be harmful to goldfish if it’s not properly treated. Tap water often contains chlorine, which can be toxic to fish if not removed. Additionally, tap water may have other chemicals or contaminants that can harm fish if not properly addressed.

If you want to keep goldfish in tap water, you should treat the water to remove any chlorine and other harmful chemicals or contaminants. You can use a water conditioner or allow the water to sit for 24 hours before adding fish to allow any chlorine to dissipate.

Some signs that your goldfish may be struggling in tap water include lethargy, gasping at the surface of the water, loss of appetite, and changes in skin color. You may also notice that your goldfish’s fins are clamped, or that it is not swimming as much as it normally does.

The frequency of water changes in a goldfish tank depends on the size of the tank, the number of fish, and the filtration system you’re using. Generally, it’s recommended to change 10-20% of the water in a goldfish tank every week to maintain good water quality.

Goldfish may be able to adapt to tap water over time if the water is properly treated and maintained. However, it’s important to monitor the water quality regularly and make adjustments as needed to ensure that the goldfish are thriving. It’s also important to note that some types of tap water may be more suitable for goldfish than others, depending on the specific chemical composition of the water.

If you’re a goldfish owner, you may be wondering if it’s possible for your fish to live in tap water without a filter. The answer is yes, it is entirely possible for goldfish to survive in tap water without a filter. However, this does come with some conditions.

Firstly, if you don’t have a filter, you’ll need to perform water changes much more frequently to ensure the water doesn’t become dirty. Without a filter, waste and debris can build up quickly, leading to poor water quality that can harm your goldfish’s health.

Additionally, without a filter, your goldfish is much more susceptible to disease and illness. A filter helps to remove harmful bacteria and other contaminants from the water, keeping your fish healthy and happy. Without a filter, your goldfish is much more likely to develop health issues that can be difficult to treat.

It’s also important to note that tap water can contain chemicals like chlorine and chloramine, which can be harmful to your goldfish. While these chemicals are typically safe for human consumption, they can be toxic to fish. To make tap water safe for your goldfish, you’ll need to use a water conditioner to remove these chemicals.

In summary, while it is possible for goldfish to live in tap water without a filter, it’s not ideal. Without a filter, you’ll need to perform frequent water changes and take extra precautions to ensure your fish’s health and well-being. If you want to ensure your goldfish has the best possible life, investing in a good-quality filter is highly recommended.

Final Thoughts

"Remember that an aquarium is above all an ecosystem and that its balance is fragile. That’s why you need to keep an eye on the water parameters to make sure your goldfish won’t get sick, or worse."

In conclusion, it is important to provide goldfish with the proper living conditions to ensure their health and well-being. Tap water is not suitable for goldfish because of the presence of chlorine, chloramine, and other contaminants. However, there are two options to make tap water safe for goldfish: treating it with a de-chlorinator or buying pre-conditioned water. It is important to install a powerful aquarium water filter to keep the tank clean, as goldfish generate large amounts of waste.

In addition, goldfish thrive in water with a pH between 7.0 and 7.4, which is slightly alkaline, and a temperature around 68°F. Regular monitoring of water parameters is necessary to prevent sickness or death in goldfish. Remember, an aquarium is an ecosystem and its balance is fragile, so it is essential to maintain a healthy environment for your goldfish. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your goldfish live long, healthy, and happy lives in a safe and comfortable home.

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Dr. Chandrika

About Me

I am a veterinary doctor who is passionate about providing top-quality care for pets and their families. My mission is to share my knowledge and expertise with pet owners through my blog, petearnest.com.


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