I'm having a little bit of trouble trying to figure out how/when to clean my Betta's tank. I have a 2.5 Gallon tank with a filter. I have been doing a 50% water change halfway through the week and then a 100% water change at the end of the week. When I do the 100% water change I completely empty the tank and rinse all of the rocks/fake plants/house in hot water then I replace everything and the water and add the conditioner. After talking to my coworkers about this, he said to never completely take out all of the items and completely rinse in hot water because it destroys the good bacteria. So when everyone talks about a 100% water change, do they literally mean just taking out the water and then replacing it, without cleaning off the rocks/fake plants/houses? I tried doing a search on this subject but couldn't find the exact answer I was looking for.
One other question. If I want to leave out water on my counter overnight, does this do the same thing as the water conditioner?
Leaving the water out won't do the same as conditioning it because water conditioner removes chemicals from the water like chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia, which leaving it out won't get rid of.
I don't think I can really answer your second question though.
In your case, doing 100% changes is just fine, because your tank is not cycled, so the bacteria aren't doing a whole lot anyway. If I do 100% changes in my tanks, which are larger and fully cycled, I have to make sure I keep the filter media in a bucket full of dirty water so the bacteria doesn't die off. However, you want to rinse all your decorations to get rid of any decomposing food/poop/whatever that might contribute to ammonia, so rinsing lightly at the very least is recommended. :)
As for the leaving it out, it depends on the water. Chlorine will evaporate out in 24 hours, usually, but if your local council treats the water with chloramine, you'd need to leave it out for two weeks. Heavy metals in the water will never evaporate. Even if there are no metals or chloramine, it's still safer to use conditioner in case they find a dead cat in the water system and use extra chlorine to make up for it.
Bottom line = water conditioner is always the safest option. :) Prime is really good, if you can get that, and lasts forever.
Your water change schedule and procedure is all correct.
What your co-worker is referring to is BB (beneficial bacteria). This is required when ‘cycling’ a tank. If you’ve not heard of cycling before, it is the process of creating BB. Fish waste, food and general waste in a tank will cause ammonia. Ammonia is poisonous to a fish once it reaches certain levels, to prevent poisoning our fish we do water changes.
However, in large tanks it is possible to begin a cycle. In these instances we do our normal schedule of water changes, perhaps a little less apart so that over time our tank forms BB. This BB eats the ammonia and then as a bi-product create nitrite. Nitrite is poisonous to fish once it reaches a certain level as well, however this is a good thing to have during a cycle because it means you have the type of BB in a tank that eats ammonia. –This is what your co-worker is referring to. If at this stage you were to do your 100% procedure, cleaning decorations and so on, you would kill the BB, and stall the cycle back to the beginning again. With further water changes and time, more BB is formed and you eventually get Nitrate. This also means that your levels of ammonia and nitrite are at 0, because you have so much BB in the tank that they eat it all and create Nitrate. Nitrate is the ultimate goal of a cycled tank because it has advantages. #1: Less water changes because Nitrate levels can be higher than ammonia or nitrite could. #2: … less water changes lol.
For your 2.5g tank, it will be extremely difficult to cycle. Basically, the ammonia levels will overwhelm any BB that may just begin to form in the tank, left too long and you will end up with a poisoned Betta. Generally speaking, most recommend a minimum of 5g to cycle and even then it can be quite difficult to succeed.
In summary, your co-worker is correct in that your procedure would normally kill the BB. But, for your tank and Betta you really don’t need to be concerned about cycling or BB. Continue with your 50% bi-week and 100% end week water change schedule, and ensure that you clean decorations/substrate to remove any crud or ammonia traces.
Leaving your water out overnight does cause chemicals to evaporate over time. I believe this is acceptable to do in lieu of water conditioner, however I wouldn’t recommend it where possible as an equal replacement. Water conditioners do contain ingredients that remove chemicals in water supplies that would be nasty to fish, however they also contain proactive parts that assist protecting the fish from disease, fin rot, and just general health tonic. Most members here strongly recommend API Stress Coat+ or Seachem Prime, I personally use Stress Coat+ and have had no issues with my boys as far as diseases go. It also helped Slevin immensely with his finrot and tear repairs.
Hope this helps.
(Sorry if I repeated anything Bomba wrote, I was typing this up in Outlook whilst at work)
That info about exactly why people leave water out was very informative. I have plans for a 2.5 gallon tank myself and was planning to try and fishlessly cycle it, but Banicks, you say it's really difficult to do that for a 2.5? I can't really upgrade to a 5 gallon, I haven't got the room or a sturdy enough table, so should I be considering doing the same thing as Sara? How much harder is it to cycle a 2.5 than a 5?
I'm not experienced in fishless cycling. I understand you will have a source of ammonia to add to the tank to begin the cycle – what levels of ammonia and at what point in time to add them will surely be dictated by tank size. Also, I’m not sure about other countries, but in Australia sources of pure ammonia are heavily restricted ever since 9/11 making it rather difficult to obtain.
This link I found quite informative, forgive the metric measurements if you use imperial – Google conversion calculator for your poison. I do know that ‘seeding’ a tank gives you a kick start – this can be a filter that was used in an already established tank, premium fish waste from a trusted fish store poured into a new filter or used substrate into new tank.
A friend of mine attempted a fishless in a larger salt water tank and ran into problems every time he introduced new living coral or fish, almost always resetting his cycle. However from memory he was using many different chemical ups, downs and salinity stuff which may have affected it all.
What you will definitely need is patience and liquid testing kits (pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate). But there is no guarantee it can be done.
Thank you!! I will continue to do as I was doing. :) You were all very helpful and informative.
As for the conditioner, I have been using the Aqueon Betta Bowl Plus that I got from PetSmart. It's a "conditioner/dechlorinator PLUS trace elements specifically formulated for bettas". I'll have to check out the other kind to see if it's available and maybe cheaper.