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Name: Brittney
Status:  student
Age: 10
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 4/7/2004

Hi, I have a fish tank at home and I was wondering if I put a sea shel in the tank with out washing it off with out soap would it make him die? Because one of my Batta fish died.

Dear Brittany,

Whenever you are putting something new in your aquarium, you do have to make sure it's clean. Don't wash it with soap though, if it's not rinsed well, it could be bad for the fish too. I would recommend only putting things in the aquarium that you buy at the pet store. If you have something that you found like a shell, clean in off as best you can. You might have to put it in a mild bleach solution. Ask mom to help. Then you would have to rinse really thoroughly until you didn't smell bleach anymore. Maybe let the shell soak in clean water for a day or so before you put it in. You should always have clean water for your fish. Ask the pet store people if there are any kinds of tablets you need to put in the water. Perhaps you need to get a filter or a bubbler. I don't know what kind of tank you have, ask the pet shop people.

Good luck,

Martha Croll

Sorry about that, Brittney. I didn't like it when my Beta died. I think it was old age or not enough food.

About the sea shell, i don't know, could you see a whole bunch of leftover dead snail in that shell? Personally, my beta could take a lot of stink and still be OK. I bought him two live snails, and he liked to watch them go up and down the jar. Then one died, and in one day the water got really cloudy. But I changed the water, and the fish was OK.

So on behalf of my fish, I'm more afraid of soap, than of dead snail.

If the shell was cleaned really dry, maybe there was leftover bleach or acid dried up deep inside, and that would be bad. Removing that doesn't take soap, it just needs water. Fill & shake empty, repeat twice, tap water is OK.

I think the little bottle of slime-juice you can buy at pet stores helps beta's to be less sensitive to chemicals. And less "shocked" when I changed all their water. Do you know they don't like their new water to be hotter or colder than the old water?

If, maybe, there was some germ inside that was bad for your fish, soap wouldn't have cleaned it up. Overnight soaking in rubbing alcohol would kill such a germ, followed by soaking in water, so alcohol doesn't hurt the fish. But that's a pretty long cleanup for just trying a little sea shell.

Just to investigate, try putting that sea shell, or another just like it, in a covered cup of water for 1 week and see what the water smells like. But don't taste it! Does the water smell faintly rotten, or bleach-y, or act soapy, or nothing?

Maybe we'll never know what happened. But it might be worth a little trying to find out.

Jim Swenson

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