I feel like this has been made wayyy to complicated.
Simply get a siphon (like $5 at petco) and siphon out the water into a bucket or something, and refill the tank. If you want, once the tank is empty, you can carry it to scrub it or whatever. My tanks are as far away from my shower/sinks as can possibly be, so I have to empty them to clean them thoroughly. I just have regular rectangular glass desk aquariums, so they aren't that dense and heavy to carry.
Yep, I agree with Green Tea. A siphon, 5 gallon bucket for emptying, empty gallon water jugs for refilling. Or you can use a bucket to refill. I find the empty gallon water bottles to be easier and less messy, though more time consuming. Just buy spring water, use it up, and save the bottles.
Thanks for your help, everyone. I went out to a LFS yesterday (they had a shark in a tank at the front, not sure how I feel about that) and ended up getting a starter kit. It's a ten-gallon and came with a lighted hood, a filter and a heater. Not sure if the heater actually sucks or the guy just reeeeally wanted to sell me a more expensive one, aha. He also tried to sell me a 'bacterial supplement,' because apparently that's the only way to keep beneficial bacteria in it. I felt pretty awesome every time I recognized something as a bullshit marketing ploy. I've come a long way since my three bettas sharing a 0.8 gallon.
ANYWAY, I also got myself a thermometer (the kit came with a digital one, but I picked up a regular one as well) and a gravel siphon. I got a few tall plastic plants and some gravel from PetSmart, and that is my first problem.
I bought a neutral, natural-looking gravel--so natural, in fact, that it's just little unpolished rocks. They're not particularly sharp, but they're also not smooth. I don't imagine them harming my bettas unless they try to burrow into the substrate, but I'm second-guessing this purchase nonetheless. I'm also concerned it might scratch my new glass aquarium. Does that happen? I can't find the exact brand name on the PetSmart website, but it was Bio-earth or Biosmart or something like that. It's labeled as 'aquarium gravel,' so am I just being paranoid?
It was the SafeStart that sold me on a larger aquarium! I didn't want to cycle because setting it up at the babysitter's would be a hassle, but now I can just keep a bottle of the stuff handy and it'll be super-easy for the babysitter. C: Thanks so much for pointing out this product!
I have one more question for now. I found little caves around my house in the forms of old mugs and such. One cup that I found is edged on the rim and handle with gold; that won't harm my fish, will it? It didn't fizz up or do anything nasty when I submerged it in vinegar, but I want to make sure it's not toxic or otherwise unsuitable.
I really appreciate everyone's advice. I'm sorry if I didn't address your comments directly; I'm reading everything very carefully and feel like I've learned a lot from this thread. n___n
I LIED. ONE MORE QUESTION. The filter that came with my tank is the Penguin Power Filter. Amazon reviews have me skeptical. Does anyone here have experience with this filter? Performance, maintenance, noise level?
Woo~ We love to see some pictures! Anyways on to the questions; as for the gravel, I wouldn't worry much. Bettas don't usually like being at the bottom of the tank simply due to the fact that they breath with their labyrinth organ, so they'll usually be middle/top of the tank. As for the scratching the glass, probably not but I'm not an expert on gravel, a few scratches won't hurt your tank. Be sure to rinse that gravel several times!
I'm not too sure about gold but to clean mugs and caves you find around your place you could wash it with hot water and vinegar or you could toss it in boiling water for a few minutes. I read online that gold does not react with water but seeing how gold these days is not just pure gold, there may be some other metals. . I would do a bit more research on it first.
Penguin Power Filter, I'm guessing you got the 200 one, great choice. I do not own the filter but just set it up and see if it makes noise, the reviews online says that it doesn't make much noise due to it being vented for noise reduction.
Okay, update. Because I'm super paranoid about this unpolished gravel, I ended up collecting tiny stones from the beach near my house instead. They're smooth and so, so pretty, with every shape and colour. To get the lake gunk off of them, I currently have them boiling on the stove along with some driftwood that had washed ashore. Once they've boiled I'll use a colander to rinse out any debris. Will this be enough to make it safe for my fish?
I'll try to look into the gold thing some more myself. :3 Thanks again, Micho.
The driftwood should be left to soak for a few months. (yes months) to release any tannins. Just go with the rocks, and Id be cautious with those as well. Bettas don't generally "burrow" into the substrate, so that shouldn't be too much of an issue.
Hrm, I remember reading somewhere that stones from the sea can change the pH of your water. I'm not sure if it does, someone else that has the knowledge may be able to assist you better. About you worrying about the gravel, I'm sure they're fine, my gravel isn't polished (Geosystem substrate by Hagen) and I haven't had any problems with it, except for it being really cloudy effect on my water but your filter should take care of that.
Driftwood, it may go bad quicker than the driftwood you'd find at your LPS. Once again, not sure about the driftwood. Using a colander would work, it's how I use to clean the gravel in my 2 gallon, poop gets washed away, I get clean gravel. Also driftwood will leach tannins and make your water turn yellow, but if you have a filter with a biological filter, this should take care of the case. But just to be safe, take a bucket fill it with boiling water dump the driftwood in there, change the water everyday for three days. That's what I did with my driftwood, once again no problems occurred.
Derp, are tannins not good for bettas? Isn't that the point of oak leaves and such?
Not trying to argue, I just want to know what's safe and what isn't. n__n;; I appreciate your advice. Looks like I'm giving up on the driftwood.
AHA, Geosystem is the unpolished stuff I bought! I'd still like to use the stuff I found because it's nicer to look at, but if it's too risky I can stick with the Geosystem stuff.
Tannins are indeed good but they'll leech into your water and make it all yellow, it makes it not aesthetically pleasing. I think you wouldn't have to do it for months, just for a couple days with boiling water should be fine. If it still leeches your filter should take care of the problem, if it doesn't you can always do a water change and remove the driftwood.
Woo, we have the same substrate! Don't give up on your cute rocks just yet! Save them for now, until someone with more experience with this answers I would keep them. I've been trying to find big rocks to make my tank look prettier.
Alright, I'll hold out hope. If anyone else is lurking this thread, I'm still looking for info about my gold-rimmed cup (will it kill my fishies oh no wah wah) and whether or not a few good boilings will make beach gravel a safe and suitable substrate. Googling has given me a lot of different answers, so if anyone knows more about this than I do, I'm listening!