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Old 07-06-2013, 05:50 PM   #1 
VegasShimmer's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: North Carolina
How do YOU clean your 10+ gallon tanks?

I've been at this Betta keeping for a while now and love every aspect of it - even the cleaning part. HOWEVER, I may be a bit on the OCD side of cleaning (and rescaping, which I may do to my 5g this weekend), and wanted to find out how everyone else cleans, and what results do you expect? I have a couple questions and issues.

Just talking about my two divided/filtered/planted/cycled 10g tanks, I do a 30-40% water change every weekend. I was just doing one and noticed A LOT of 'stuff' floating around as I tried to vacuum what I could. I have a medium sand substrate (CaribSea Instant Aquarium) in both, so I can't plunge the suction too far into the gravel without sucking all of it up. I usually take out the ornaments (bridge/floating log) so I can swirl the suction around and collect most of the floating 'stuff'.

My issues/questions are:

I can't always suck out ALL of the floating material, but try to get most of the Oto/Betta poop. Remember, once the suction starts, I only have about a minute or two to get what I can (for a 30-40% wc) or else I'd be doing a 90-100% every week, which is a no-no in a cycled tank, right?

How does everyone vacuum fine or medium sand substrate? Do you get the same floating debris as I do? Is this terribly bad, or do you just get what you can and remain satisfied with the water change (which is the important part), right? After I vacuum, the 'stuff' settles back and clears, but I still know it's there. Is this what the plants are turning into food?

In my two cycled 10g, is there ever a need to completely tear down, like every 3 or 6 months, and do a full clean?

So PLEASE, tell me what you do to clean?
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Old 07-06-2013, 09:07 PM   #2 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: texas
I don't have a 10g+ tank running yet but on my 5gs and 3gs I vaccuum the gravel and some times when the water has a ton of floating things I'll refill the tank (with new water) and suction again...
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Old 07-06-2013, 09:24 PM   #3 
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We use just a hose to clean with that is smaller so it gives us more tiem to get the stuff we want to get, all of our tanks are heavily planted so if we miss some it's basically plant food, and no there is no need to completely tear down a tank unless you had some sort of disease kill the fish in the tank and you need to sterilize it
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Old 07-06-2013, 09:34 PM   #4 
Join Date: May 2012
I made a much thinner sand vacuum. I have all the time in the world to clean my sand without taking out too much water at a time. I don't suck my fry up or have to put my hand in the tank.
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Old 07-06-2013, 09:46 PM   #5 
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Location: Virginia
I have a 10g tank that I do 50 percent water changes to once or twice a week (and add water conditioner) when I put the water in a few things come up and float for a second then go back down. Like 3 little debris things and a few little things that are barely noticible, doesn't seem to harm the fish though. He builds bubble nests (signs of health) everyday and swims normally, normal long fins, and has all his scales.
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:50 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: North Carolina
Thank you for the input! What about people with sand or fine gravel substrate, how do you clean? I love my sand because the plants seem to really flourish compared to gravel/rock, but it is a headache to vacuum. I can barely touch it without it all being sucked up, so I have found the light swirling does a fairly good job.

My tanks are heavily planted, so I am hoping they take up the slack with any 'stuff' floating around. The fish are healthy, swimming fine, and they make tons of bubble nests, so I am not too worried - just wanted some input. :)
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:47 AM   #7 
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Location: Shangdong, China
i do weekly 50% changes and I can never get all the
floating crap
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:27 PM   #8 
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Brigantine, NJ
You can change as much water as you want - 20, 50, 90%, it doesn't matter. The bacteria does not live in the water, but rather on the surfaces inside the tank.

By most people's accounts, comparatively I'm sure I probably do the least amount of "cleaning" of anyone here.

Sent from App

Last edited by jaysee; 07-07-2013 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:35 PM   #9 
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Dallas, TX
On my 10g I do a once weekly change (it's split with a betta on each side). I just siphon water out, move some decor to get the gravel and that's all.

In my 20 (it doesn't have bettas in it buuuut) I sometimes just swish all the gravel around to get all the gunk out and use the siphon or leave it up to my filters to get a lot of it.

Sand is tricky and a huge pain >.< I have it in my 5g and I have lots of little algae resting on it (black sand..) so it looks awful. I end up using airline tubing from my air pump to get it out.

What I used to do is when I got that floaty stuff up I'd use my fish net to catch it all and swish it off in my bucket.

Since my 20 has huge waste producers in it I will usually take out the big decor so I can really get everything in the gravel. Bettas don't seem to produce much so I don't think you need to tear your tank down. If your decor gets algae or gunk on it you can just swish it in your used water bucket (from the same tank) or even a fish-only toothbrush to clean it. Algae scrubbers are nice, too ^^
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:06 PM   #10 
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Chautauqua County, NY - My mind is in my fish tank usually
Sand isn't so bad to clean. I have it in my 5g planted tank. Unsettle it a little by stirring or pull the vaccuum back before it get even a third of the way up the tube. Sand is heavier than fish poo, food waste, and even some algae. Get it about once a week and you won't run into much of an algae problem on your sand. If you do get algae on your sand, as the sand will weight it down, you'll have to remove it by hand.

Cleaning it this way will also help keep harmful bacteria buildup from forming in your sand and ruining it. Its important to keep your sand clean because its not as easy to scrub and sterilize as gravel. If your sand goes nasty with harmful bacteria and yuckiness many people consider it easier to just remove and start from fresh.

Don't stress if you get a little sand while vacuuming that will be the the very fine grain stuff. Have a bit of extra sand on hand to replace the vacuumed ultra fine or any you have to remove any due to algae.

For floaters, if you have big floaters, a fine mesh net will help. Move it one direction and allow fishies to escape and avoid by going slow. The fine floaters, I wouldn't worry much about those. Its natural plant food.
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