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Many members have turned to bottled water (Spring, distilled, purified), RO (Reverse Osmosis) systems, in-home filtration, etc. Many do so because their tap water is not fish-friendly. Keep in mind, in most cases if your tap water is safe for you to drink it is generally safe for your fish.

The downside to this is only Spring water has the trace elements and minerals fish need to maintain health. The others are mineral deficient and require a product such as Seachem - Equilibrium, SALTYSHRIMP - Aquarium Mineral GH/KH+ - Minerals and Trace Elements or Osmose ReMineral+ | Dennerle.

When asked, a representative for an in-home system company replied theirs is the same as RO. His product has less than 50 TDS* (Total Dissolved Solids/Salts). On another forum an owner read his RO TDS at 20 ppm. Domestic Betta do best in 250-300 ppm; "hard water" fish like Guppies, higher. Inverts can have issues molting if TDS is above or below 250-350.

The following findings in relation to nutritional and environmental deficiencies from lack of minerals and trace elements are from two scientific studies.

1. Deficiency signs may occur when fish are fed nutrient deficient diets or raised in a low nutrient-input culture system.

Mineral deficiencies are difficult to assess as most trace elements are obtained both from the dietary ingredients and from the culture water.

The following deficiency signs have been reported:

  • Calcium- reduced growth, poor feed conversion and bone mineralization
  • Copper- reduced growth, cataracts
  • Iodine- thyroid hyperplasia (goiter)
  • Iron- microcytic, homochronic anaemia
  • Magnesium- reduced growth
  • Manganese- anorexia, loss of equilibrium
  • Phosphorus- lordosis, poor growth
  • Potassium- reduced growth and feed efficiency, anorexia, convulsions
  • Selenium- increased mortality, muscular dystrophy, reduced growth, cataracts, anaemia
  • Zinc- reduced growth and appetite, cataracts, high mortality, erosion of fins and skin, short body dwarfism

Data source: Chow & Shell (1980), Tacon (1987), Tacon (1992), NRC (1993), Jauncey (2000)

Fish require minerals for various metabolic processes like haemoglobin synthesis and for their enzyme and hormone function.

21 recognized elements perform essential functions in the body and are termed macro nutrients and micro or trace elements.

Macro nutrients are calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. They are required in higher levels.

Micro/Trace elements are chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium and zinc. They are required in smaller quantities.

Non-availability of adequate minerals affects growth and may cause irrecoverable deficiency diseases.

If there is a history of poor growth, poor survival, low fecundity, chronic illnesses or presence of any of the more abnormal signs, nutritional disorder should be considered.


*For more information on TDS:
TDS in the Freshwater Aquarium
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