Pet shop owners warn people with fish to treat water while Coliban carries out routine maintenance

There’s something in the water and it could spell trouble for pet fish in Bendigo.

Warnings from a Bendigo aquarium supplier come as Coliban Water begins 12 weeks of maintenance, flushing chlorinated water through the city’s pipes.  

The utility provider said the work was required so supplies continued to meet Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

But Stephen and Gail Pilcher, who own central Bendigo pet shop Fish ‘N’ Feathers, said sudden changes to the make-up of water could put in danger the lives of pet fish. 

Left untreated, higher levels of chlorine could poison and kill the animals, Mr Pilcher said.

“People spend a lot of money on their fish; they can easily spend up to $100 on a fish, so they don’t want them dying,” he said. 

Some customers perturbed by the sudden and seemingly unexplained death of their pets returned to the pet shop, believing something was wrong with the animal at the time of purchase.

But fish owners needed to use chemicals that aged and dechlorinated their water to safeguard tanks against disaster.

Mrs Pilcher said this was especially important if changing an entire tank of water during the period of Coliban maintenance. 

Water quality differed depending on location, her husband said, and fish owners needed to treat water according to their town’s conditions. 

The pair regarded Bendigo water as “highly chlorinated” and wished the utility provider would inform pet shops so they could warn customers about the potential danger. 

Coliban chief operating officer Neville Pearce said the routine flushing could mean the taste and odour of water changed slightly. Flow and pressure will not be impacted.

“We carry out similar works across our region on a regular basis and the last time we completed works of this nature in the Bendigo network was in 2015,” he said, while also recommending aquarium owners consult pet shop staff. 

The water is still safe for people and pets to drink.