You can clean the gravel using a little plastic gravel vac/siphon that you can buy at wal mart or a pet store for a pretty cheap price. Once you start the siphon you just dig around in the gravel and suck up the dirt. That way you can clean the gravel without having to empty the entire tank every time.
This is something I've also been curious about. I'm also having some difficutly understanding the whole "cycling" process? I've got a filtered five gallon. Any suggestions as to how much or how often I should change the water? I've been doing 50% changes on a weekly basis, but I'm not sure that's a good amount to be doing?
What is cycling? I have a 1.5 gallon tank with a filter and a heater. How much water should I change each time. Some say 25%, some say 50%. What percent of water should I change and should I ever do a full water change? I am going to clean the gravel with a turkey baster. The plants are silk when I take them out to clean them can I put them back in by hand or is there another way to do it?
Thanks for your help,
Cycling is the building up of beneficial bacteria in your tank. I'm not real good at explaining it but I'll try. Ammonia is produced by fish through waste and it is also produced by rotting, uneaten food. During cycling, ammonia levels will spike after a few days, then ammonia levels will start to fall, then nitrite levels go up. Then ammonia disappears and nitrites go down. Then nitrates should appear and climb.When ammonia and nitrites are at zero, the tank is cycled. You'll need a test kit to keep track of your parameters during cycling. I hope this helps. I'm not real good at explaining it but maybe someone else will explain it better.
In a 1.5 gallon tank, odds are it will never be cycled and stable, your best bet is to run that tank "un-cycled" witch means full water changes, instead of partials. Ammonia will build up fast in a tank that small, and this can harm your fish.. for a 1.5gallon, I would recommend a full water change 1-2 times a week. To do this, scoop the betta out in a cup, or something similar.. don't net if possible, as they can damage their delicate fins. Then take out your plants, decorations, and gravel, and clean them in hot water.. no soap. Best way to clean gravel in an uncycled tank is with a colander or bucket, and basically just run water over it and stir it around so that all the grime gets washed away. Then put all your deco back in the tank, add dechlorinated water of the same temperature as the water in your bettas cup, then add the fish.. if you don't have a thermometer to verify the temperature, it's a good idea to float the cup in the tank with the betta in it for 15 minutes or so to make sure the temps are the same. Hope this helps.