I just bought my first filter, and am totally unsure as to how to do partial water changes and clean the gravel. I only have a 2.5 gal tank, and before that it was a 1.5 gal bowl. I've always done a complete water change once a week and my fish was fine with it for the year+ i've had him, but I was getting sick of it. It seems like partial water changes would make life easier, and the filter would keep his water clearer. I also use a water conditioner. Any help would be great! Thanx!
that sticky was really interesting but it didn't actually seem to say how to "cycle" your tank, and i still have no idea how to do partial water changes and the such. i'm more confused tahn i was before... : (
i'm sorry guys, but i am not understanding a word of all this "cycling" stuff. i'm used to: taking my fish out, dumping all my water rinsing my gravel, tank and decorations, adding purifier to fresh water the same temp as my old water, pour the water in the bowl after adding the gravel, heater and decor, then putting my fish back in. that's what i've been doing for a year and my fish has done fine, and i just don't understand all this ammonia and nitrate stuff. i just thought partial water changes were taking half the water out and putting in fresh and somehow cleaning the gravel and decor in the process.
Rotting food and fish waste produces a toxin called ammonia. This is usually what kills fish when the tank isn't cleaned often enough. Given enough ammonia, bacteria called Nitrosomonas start living off it and starting a colony in the tank. They live on all the surfaces, primarily the filter because it contains the most surface area. They eat the ammonia and produce a less-harmful waste product called nitrIte.
When nitrIte builds up, it attracts another kind of bug called Nitrobacter bacteria. They do all the same stuff as Nitrosomonas, only with the nitrIte instead of ammonia. What comes out the other end is a chemical called nitrAte. It's only harmless in big amounts. You then vacuum the nitrAte out of the tank when you do the water change. It doesn't take alot of vacuuming to remove.
In an uncycled tank, you skip the bacteria by sucking all the ammonia up yourself. Since you are cleaning out all the ammonia before the bacteria get a chance to dig in, they never really colonise the tank. So you take care of all the ammonia yourself, which requires bigger water changes to eliminate.
AMMONIA >nitrosomonas bacteria> NITRITE>nitrobacter bacteria> NITRATE => Water Change
thank you so much kelly528! that cleared up ALOT for me! but i still feel as if no one is telling me how to change my water. do i just scoop out half of it and add that much fresh water? do i need to buy one of those gravel vaccumes? do i take out and scrub my decorations? i was hoping the filter would help me avoid detaching my heater and now all my filter stuff, carrying my tank to my laundry tub and hassling with taking everything out of the tank to clean once a week. thank you guys for being so patient with me, and for all the help you're giving me. : )
Your best way to clean is definitely a gravel vacuum... they are a really easy way to clean your gravel and change the water at the same time. You can just jam it into the gravel and suck all the dirt out. I'm sure you can look up a tutorial on youtube to understand how it's done.
Once you've vacuumed out about a gallon, take the filter out and give it a good swish in the dirty tank water to dislodge any debris without killing your bacteria.
You probably won't have to clean the decorations every time but if they start getting a little gunky you can easily remove them and scrub them with a toothbrush. The same goes for the filter... every once in a while you can put the filter media in the bucket of dirty water and take your filter to the aundry tub and tae a toothbrush to every cranny you can reach. You will find that a brownish film (which is dead bacteria) will build up on them over the course of a few months and if neglected it will start affecting the water flow and clogging things.