Well, my new Betta Topaz got a 100% water change today. It was definitely needed, the water had a bit of an odor. *yuck* I do change 30% of his water every other day, he is currently in an unfiltered 2.5 gallon tank.
I've never had a filtered tank, even though I have had several fish before Topaz. I'm wondering if a filtered tank is less work, and maybe healthier for the fish. If so, I think I know what to ask for Christmas. ;)
Here are my questions: - If it matters, I'm thinking about a 5 gallon filtered tank.
How often does a filtered tank (with live plants) need to have water changes?
How often do you have to do a 100% water change?
Does a filtered tank help control algae growth?
Will it filter out fish waste?
Does the filter need replaced every so often? If so, how do you know when it is time?
Which is best, under-gravel or side attatched? Does it matter? Is one easier to deal with than the other?
Any other tips or information for a complete filtered tank newbie? -- I do know I would need to let it "cycle" before putting Topaz in.
Thanks so much for the help. I know Topaz would love more room and I'd love it if it was healthier for him and less work would be awesome too. ;)
Last edited by wystearya; 10-09-2010 at 11:49 AM.
If you are getting a filter for your 2.5 gallon tank, I would change 25% of the water every week if your tank is not cycled. if your tank is cycled, you should never do a 100% water change. I think algae is caused by light, so the filter won't help. just leave the light off most of the day and clean the tank regularly. yes, the filter should remove fish waste. you should not need to replace the filter, unless it breaks for some reason. I think a side attached filter is probably better. cycling the tank is not necessary, but it will allow you to do less frequent water changes.
How often does a filtered tank (with live plants) need to have water changes? Since you say you're going to cycle it, all my answers are based on a cycled tank. 25% - 50% a week for a 5 gallon. It can depend. I had a 5 gallon hex (tall) that was extremely unstable due to a faulty filter. It had to be changed 50% due to that. A siphon vacuum and a 5 gallon bucket are your BEST friends for water changes. It's so much less mess and the siphon gets all the poo out of your gravel.
How often do you have to do a 100% water change? Never
Does a filtered tank help control algae growth? No, like peaches said, it's light. If it's brown algae, it's diatoms. Light control won't do anything for these. It's just something that comes up in a new tank and goes away eventually. For green algae, I limit my tank light to 8-9 hours a day and make sure NO sunlight is hitting the tank at any time of the day.
Will it filter out fish waste? Once it's cycled, the bacteria in the filter get rid of ammonia but poo still stays down in the gravel, which is why you still have to use a siphon vac. I do it weekly, sometimes stretching it to bi-weekly.
Does the filter need replaced every so often? If so, how do you know when it is time? Don't replace it until it's falling apart. If your filter slows down, take the cartridge out while you're doing a water change and swish it around in the dirty water in your bucket. This gets all the debris off the cartridge that might be slowing things down. Do the same with the intake tube if it's got plant matter jammed in it. Don't use clean tap water, it'll kill the bacteria that gets out the ammonia.
Which is best, under-gravel or side attatched? Does it matter? Is one easier to deal with than the other? I like over the side. Sponge filters are a nice alternative. Under gravel filters aren't that great.
Any other tips or information for a complete filtered tank newbie? -- I do know I would need to let it "cycle" before putting Topaz in. Read up on cycling. It's not hard but it is a commitment of time. You'd need an API liquid test kit to test your water during the cycle. A lot of people here know about fishless cycling and will be able to help you. You have an advantage because your fish is already in his home, so you can take the time to get his tank fully cycled in the beginning. This will save you time later in water changes. :D
a tank can only be called "cycled" after it has built up the proper amount of bacteria to balance the ammonia and nitrite levels, which will take around 4-8 weeks. just because it has a filter in it doesn't mean it has enough bacteria yet, but it will eventually :)
Nitrogen cycle-two bacteria at work-one converts ammonia to nitrite and one converts the nitrite to nitrate-then to a gas
The beneficial bacteria need oxygenated water to thrive and colonize
These bacteria are sticky and adhere to everything in the tank-like the walls, decoration, plants both real and fake-in the top layer of the substrate and in the filter media-very little are in the water column
Although plants get blamed for algae in aquarium-they don't cause the algae per se-but the high organics that feed the algae-you have to balance the light and nutrients in the tank to prevent algae out-breaks-too much or too little of either can cause algae to out-compete the plants for nutrients...its a balance.....
Depending on the number and species of plants as well as bioload in the tank is what will determine the water change needs-Active growing plants use ammonia as plant food and often conversion will not happen and you will not see the nitrate reading that indicates a completed nitrogen cycle.
You can't see ammonia, nitrite, nitrate or DOC's in the tank per se-clean, clear water does not mean safe water or the absent of them-the only way to remove these things without using chemicals is with a water change.
Freshwater fish thrive with fresh water and to be a good keeper of fish you must first be a keeper of water.......