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Old 06-22-2012, 02:15 PM   #1 
misty1477's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Dallas, PA
Post Cleaning substrate w/o removing it ?

I am a new Betta owner and need some help.

My 'Sparkle' is in a 5.5 gallon tank with 2 silk plants, filter, and 'luster gems' as substrate (I do not particularly like gravel). He told me he is very happy in his big home ... lots of room to swim around + filter is not too 'pushy'.

But my question is: If I do a % water change every week, how do I get the 'poop' and food he dropped from out of the substrate and bottom of the tank?

I was doing a COMPLETE water and cleaning change once a week, but I understand that certain 'things' (I forget what they are called) are supposed to 'grow' on tank walls and stuff to provide acceptable tank water quality. I want to switch to the %-water-change method, but I am concerned about the stuff that drops to the bottom.

I keep HIS home cleaner than mine.

Another thing I noticed and don't know if it is 'normal' ...
I know this might sound stupid because he IS a FISH, but my tank and plants have a strange "fishy" odor. Even the filter has it. BTW...I have changed the filter 2X in the last 45 days.

Sorry for going on and on ... but any help is appreciated. I want my Betta to be as happy (oh yeah...and spoiled) as my 7 Kitties (they love watching him swim around).
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Old 06-22-2012, 02:41 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: MD
You could buy a good Gravel Siphon. You could find them in Local Fish Stores but, most seem to be bad quality. And for the Smell, does it smell like Fishy Water? I don't know how to explain it but for my Tank, it seems normal.
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Old 06-22-2012, 03:04 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Dallas, PA
Smile Thank You....

Thank you Lebron. I will check out the Gravel Siphons. As for the 'fishy' smell, it is an annoying odor (for me anyway)....don't know if it bothers Sparkle at all. When I did my last COMPLETE tank cleaning, I especially dealt with the silk plants (whoooo did they stink)...I rinsed them well in hot water and then dumped almost boiling water on them ... I do this method with my 'luster gems' also. Jeepers Cats (oooops ... I mean Jeepers Fish) they still had the smell. Let's see what other people post about these issues....if they have the same ones and what they suggest.

Love My Betta
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Old 06-22-2012, 03:06 PM   #4 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
In a 5gal filtered tank-I would recommend 50% weekly water changes with vacuum in all area you can reach without moving anything.
If you don't have a vacuum-you can do the stir and dip method

Stir and dip method:
Wash hands before and after
Turn off the filter, unplug the heater-leave the Betta in the thank.
Using something like a chopstick, wooden spoon or the like....give the substrate a little stir to bring the mulm/debris up in the water column.
Using a plastic cup-dip out half the water....You won't get all the mulm/debris and this is okay....
Refill with like temp dechlorinated water
Plug in the heater and monitor the temp for the next hour
Once refilled-Turn the filter back on-the water should clear within the hour-If not, then you either missed a water change or overfeeding...

Filter media needs a swish/rinse the the bucket of old tank water or dechlorinated tepid water a couple of times a month. All you want to do is to get the big pieces of gunk off to maintain good water flow-it should look dirty.

You don't need to change the filter media until it is falling apart-just a rinse/swish is all that is needed-this is to maintain all the good bacteria that can help keep the water safe.

If you want to use carbon (not needed IMO) You will need to change this per package direction since it is short lived and can't be recharged.

Since you have a filter you will be able to establish the nitrogen cycle.
The bacteria for this are sticky and adhere to all the surface areas within the tank, in the top layer of the substrate and in the filter media-very little are in the water column-water only changes won't hurt the cycle-but over cleaning can-but under cleaning can too since too much mulm/debris build up can suffocate this bacteria....Its a balance.....

The beneficial bacteria need a surface area, oxygen and food source to colonize.....

Love to see some pics.....
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Old 06-22-2012, 03:39 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Dallas, PA

Thank you Oldfishlady ... My kids call me the crazy cat lady

I will try the 'stir and dip' method you suggest. Sounds like it would work for me and Sparkle.

I have a carbon filter that is why I changed it twice already.

It was the 'bacteria' that I could not remember the name for. I knew it was something important and should be allowed to 'grow' somewhat.

I have a few pics in my profile album. They are not too good ... still wondering how people get really good pics. My guy swims around so much it is difficult to snap a pic of him. He is a 'zoomer' in his tank

Any info about the 'fishy' smell???

Last edited by misty1477; 06-22-2012 at 03:47 PM. Reason: want to add a question
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