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Old 02-26-2013, 02:22 PM   #1 
KidsCatsBettas
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Cleaning Aquarium Decorations

Hi All, I'm new to the forum. My son is 8 and had kept his two previous bettas in a 1/2 gal tank, which I now know is akin to torture (though they each lived for three years in spite of it). I have upgraded my son's new betta, Ninja (a blue/red crowntail), to a 2.5 gal tank filtered with a Marina i25. I know, still not perfect, but all I can do with the space I have to work with in kids' rooms. My daughter's betta, Sparkle (a purple halfmoon) is now in his own 2.5 gal filtered tank as well.

How do I clean these tanks? I've been monitoring water quality with the API Master kit and for both tanks and nothing is remarkable beyond the 0.25ppm ammonia from being a new tank (20% water changes every other day to freshen the water). My son has a pagoda decoration in his tank and I've noticed that it has a slight white haze on it. Is this a good thing or bad thing? Am I supposed to take out the silk sword plants and the decorations in the tank and rinse them with tap water? With water treated with water conditioner? I don't want to wash away any good bacteria. I have a gravel vac that I haven't used because there isn't much junk at the bottom yet.

I think I may have killed my son's last betta from ammonia poisoning from overcleaning his tiny tank, so I'm really going out of my way to keep the new fish as healthy as possible.

Thank you all in advance! I've already learned so much just from reading on this board.

TJ
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:18 PM   #2 
callistra
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Bacteria blooms are common on new tanks. I wouldn't worry about that at this point. Anything new should have been thoroughly rinsed in hot tap water before you added it through.. you did that right?

Ammoia poisoning is from lack of water changes, not over changing. Changing the water is the only way to remove ammonia.

What is the temperature of their tanks? It should be a stable (unchanging) temp between 78-80F, and you should use an in tank thermometer to monitor it.

The .25ppm ammonia is also a problem.. A lot of people will say you can't cycle a tank of this size and it will always require twice weekly changes of 50% and 100%, but you can try.. best case scenario is it will always need twice weekly 50% changes using a small siphon or turkey baster to remove poop and debris from the gravel.

To cycle, you should ideally usa reliable drops kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. You should be testing daily for ammonia and nitrite and doing an extra (in addition to a weekly 50% change you should always do) change of 50% any time you see as little as .25ppm of either. At first you will see ammonia spike, then nitrite will spike. Eventually, even after a week of no water changes, you will be left with no ammonia, and finally nitrite will follow. At this point you will be left with only nitrates. These should always be kept <20ppm and the lower the better. At this point a twice weekly 50% change with siphon/baster may maintain water quality. Be aware cycling can take up to two weeks and in something so small it may take even longer or it may never fully establish: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=47838

Also the filter you have has an unfortunate flaw. It only has one type of filter media (one cartridge) which needs to be changed monthly. However, that is where your beneficial bacteria grows, so every time you replace it you restart your cycle. I suggest removing the cartridge and instead stuffing it with 2 filter sponges.. you'll just have to look around to where you can find somethings that will fit, or cut them to size. These you only need to replace once a year, and if you replace them a month a part it should not hurt your cycle. Also putting a very porous sponge around the intake of the filter will keep your betta's fins from being hurt, and provide an additional place for the bacteria to grow. You can attach it using a silicon band or even rubber band. All these sponges should be swished in the old tank water after a water change at a couple times a month to keep from getting clogged.

Also water changes should always be done with same temp water (use in tank thermometer to match running tap to current tank temp) and premix with conditioner before being added to the tank. If you don't already have something you are premixing water in, you can get some gallon water jugs from the grocery store - rinse thoroughly in hot water, never chems.

Hope this helps..
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:09 PM   #3 
KidsCatsBettas
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Thank you! It appears I'm doing some things right already. Yea!!! The last fish died I think because I overcleaned the gravel and killed off any beneficial bacteria that were there. He started getting sick about a week after a tank cleaning and 100% water change and was dead a week after that with signs of ammonia poisoning. I bought an ammonia test kit the day before he died, but I think the damage was too great for a fish that was pretty elderly to begin with. I use the API Master Kit with the liquid reagents, my 8 y/o mad scientist son is enjoying running the tests. My personal background is in science, so I've supervised him and taught him good scientific method.

I do have a Marina 10W heater in each tank and a thermometer. Luckily I live in Florida and the heaters don't have to turn on much. I keep a water gallon (only every had drinking water from the supermarket in it before being commissioned by the fish) full of treated water in each kid's room so the water that goes in during changes is really close to the same temp, especially since the heaters rarely come on.

I modified the filter and I'm hoping that it will help with keeping the fish safe and giving the bacteria a place to grow. I bought a Fluval U2 filter sponge, which has a very open structure and sliced it lengthwise to make it thinner. I have a piece of this sponge tied with monofilament line (very tight, no loose edges) over the water intake to keep little fins safe from getting caught. I also took a chunk of this sponge and packed it in where the water flows back into the tank to break up the flow so it wasn't so much of a waterfall. Again, I picked this sponge because it is very open and I figured it would not significantly restrict water flow through the filter. Sparkle is full grown and is doing fine with the current, he sleeps in the princess castle or under the leaves. The young Ninja lives up to his wild name and I think he actually exercises in the current and seems to like it!

So you think it is okay to not take the pagoda (and princess castle) and silk plants out to rinse them off? Are they working as a substrate for good bacteria? The fish are doing so well, I just don't want to cause any more heartbreak. :(

TJ
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:54 PM   #4 
Picasso84
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I think u can clean off the decorations, *as long as u don't clean them all off at the same time*, (& at the same time u change out any filter media)... For example, clean one plant during one water change, then the castle (or pagoda) the next w.c., & another plant the next... etc. (same for each tank) I think how much u can clean off at a time depends on how much decor (i.e. how much surface area there is for the bacteria to live on) u have in each tank... (I could be a little off on that... {I'm still kind of new} You might be able to clean off more than one thing at a time, or clean each decoration a little more frequently, but I'm not sure, & it also depends on how much decor u have in the tank...etc. so, i think just be better safe than sorry, & clean things gradually) And u prob wouldn't want to clean everything any chance u get... b/c the chloramines & stuff in tap water will def. kill your BB off... Only clean when needed (I assume)

If someone comes along who knows better, then follow their advice :) lol
But as far as I know, this is what u r supposed to do when u *need* to clean off decorations in your tanks (& I have been researching for a long while, and just getting back into fish keeping {not that I had expertise, but do have a little experience})
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Old 02-26-2013, 06:15 PM   #5 
callistra
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You can't cycle something as small as .5g. The filter would have served no real purpose except the fish would have been really stressed from the current. If he did succumb to ammonia poisoning it would have been because ammonia builds so fast in a half gallon that he was already very weak from prolonged lack of changes.. that size could need daily changes.

I wouldn't keep water in jugs in the same room and assume it's the same temp.. what is the temp of your tank? The water in the jug will be several degrees below room temp.. so like unless your kid's rooms stay about 84 and you keep your tanks about 80 the water will be way off. The best way to do is to take the in tank thermometer from their tank and put it under the running tap to match the temp exactly. Then fill up the jugs, add conditioner, shake it up a bit and then use it for water changes right away before the temp changes.

Even in the winter the 10w heater is keeping the tank a constant unchanging temp between 78-80F?

Sounds like the modification of the filter is good :)

I think that as long as you rinsed them before putting them in the tank they should be okay now. I would expect the bacteria bloom to go away after few weeks when the tank is more established. They will hold some beneficial bacteria as well.
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