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Old 02-01-2012, 07:38 PM   #1 
engeler1
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Arrow Help -- New To Fish; Trying to do it right but not succeeding

Hi,
My daughter received a betta fish at a birthday party. Since we got one, I feel a responsibility to take good care of it and have tried my best to do so. (two weeks so far). But I have a problem! I’m hoping somebody can help…
My water in our tank has turned cloudy, not with particulates – but just cloudy.
Setup:
· 10 gallon tank
· Heater
· Aqueon Power Filter
· A thin layer of gravel on bottom of tank
· A cave and some soft plastic plants
Strategy:
· Keep water at 78 deg.
· Tank never in direct sunlight
· Feed only 2 little pellets of betta food two times per day
· Change filter cartrege 1/month
· 1 per week change 25% of the water
· Before adding new water, use conditioner
· No lid so keep water 2” below tank top
At the 2nd week anniversary of our fish – the water turned cloudy. I think (but am not certain) this happened when I poured in the 2 gallons of new water into the tank. I think sediment may have been stirred up from the bottom but I’m not positive…
24 hours ago I replaced the filter cartridge two weeks earlier than planned thinking this might clean up the cloudiness, it didn’t.
So I have two theories on what might be going on but thought some expert would know for certain:
1. Since I keep the lid off the tank, I keep the water 2” from the top of the container. Between one week due to evaporation the water level drops to nearly 3” below top edge. My filter draws water through an intake tube down into the tank. The manual says to fill tank to 1” from top edge. So my theory is that the tank can’t pull the heavier dissolved particulates into the filter so even though water is flowing throw it’s sucking only the cleaner water leaving the cloudy stuff down in the tank. Potential solution – buy an aquarium cover and fill tank to within 1” of top.

2. Although not all betta sites I’ve read up on says this is a necessity – maybe I need to start “vaccuming” the gravel at the weekly changes? Not that I have a thin layer of gravel – no more than ¼” think – just to cover bottom of tank and hold articfical plants.


What do you think? What can I do to get rid of the cloudiness in my water. Any help you might be able to provide is VERY appreciated by me and my daughter.

Thanks!
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:45 PM   #2 
thekoimaiden
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Welcome to the forum! It sounds like you are on a great start to making your little fishy happy!

It sounds like your tank is in the process of cycling. You can read all about it here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/b...m-cycle-47838/ The cloudy water that you are seeing is a bacterial bloom that is a regular part of the cycle. You will need to get a test kit to see where exactly you are in the cycle.

As for vacuuming the gravel, I highly recommend it. I do weekly gravel vacs in all of my tanks (betta or not). The only reason I would not vacuum the gravel is if I have live plants rooted in the substrate.
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Old 02-01-2012, 08:04 PM   #3 
engeler1
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Thank You TheKoimaiden!

I had been trying to avoid reading about cycling as that seemed complex and for people who didn’t want to do water changes. I carefully read the link you provided.
So I’m essentially committed and have accidently started a fish in cycle? And the cloudiness is just a buildup of one bacteria or another as the cycle (bacterial environment) develops?
Regarding buying a water chemistry testing kit. Should I really do this? I know from an academic curiosity it might be nice to know where in the process I am. But it doesn’t sound like there’s much else I would do even if I had the information. I should just stay the course with my plan and the cloudiness should disappear as the environment stabilizes?
Also, is there a type of gravel vaccum you’d recommend? Somewhere (maybe on this site) I read that if you have thin gravel you can just swish a net over it and the filter will remove the disturbed particulate.

Thanks again for all your help!
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Old 02-01-2012, 08:07 PM   #4 
Daisykd
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Can you use 1 vacuum for multiple tanks or is it better to have one vacuum per tank?
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:26 PM   #5 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engeler1 View Post
Thank You TheKoimaiden!

I had been trying to avoid reading about cycling as that seemed complex and for people who didn’t want to do water changes. I carefully read the link you provided.
So I’m essentially committed and have accidently started a fish in cycle? And the cloudiness is just a buildup of one bacteria or another as the cycle (bacterial environment) develops?
Regarding buying a water chemistry testing kit. Should I really do this? I know from an academic curiosity it might be nice to know where in the process I am. But it doesn’t sound like there’s much else I would do even if I had the information. I should just stay the course with my plan and the cloudiness should disappear as the environment stabilizes?
Also, is there a type of gravel vaccum you’d recommend? Somewhere (maybe on this site) I read that if you have thin gravel you can just swish a net over it and the filter will remove the disturbed particulate.

Thanks again for all your help!
I'm always happy to help!

Yes you have started a fish-in cycle. But it is not a problem. It has been done before. Now that you know you're cycling you will need to do daily water changes until the cycle is complete or else you risk endangering your fish. As you know ammonia and nitrite are highly toxic to fish.

The reason you need a test kit is to know when your tank has cycled. There is no way to tell other than testing the water. You will know it is over when your ammonia and nitrite read 0 ppm and you have nitrates present.

I just got the basic petstore brand gravel vac. It has a small diameter tube so the water isn't siphoned off too quickly. I'm not sure about the swishing method. Maybe someone else can answer to it better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daisykd View Post
Can you use 1 vacuum for multiple tanks or is it better to have one vacuum per tank?
It depends, Daisy. If all of your tanks are clean and free of disease that is just fine. I would get a separate one for quarantine tanks, tho. I have 3 gravel vacs. One for my larger tanks and one for my smaller tanks and a third for quarantine/sick tanks.
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Old 02-02-2012, 06:08 AM   #6 
engeler1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekoimaiden View Post

Yes you have started a fish-in cycle. But it is not a problem. It has been done before. Now that you know you're cycling you will need to do daily water changes until the cycle is complete or else you risk endangering your fish.
OK, great I think I've almost got it, thanks! Last question is -- for the daily water changes until the tank has completed cycling; how much water do I need to change? Is 25% enough?

Again, I really appreciate your willingness to help stranger (people & fish)!

Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:52 PM   #7 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engeler1 View Post
OK, great I think I've almost got it, thanks! Last question is -- for the daily water changes until the tank has completed cycling; how much water do I need to change? Is 25% enough?

Again, I really appreciate your willingness to help stranger (people & fish)!

Thanks!
This is where the test kits come in real handy because the higher the ammonia or nitrite reads, the larger a water change you need to perform. If the ammonia tests at 0.25 ppm you could get away with just a 25% water change, but if it is around 2 ppm then you are going to want to do around 75% water change (but make sure you keep the gravel wet as this is where the majority of the good bacteria grow). Until you can get a test kit 50% a day is best because you haven't been doing daily water changes and ammonia and nitrite are likely built up in the water. Once you get a kit you can determine where you are in the cycle.

I enjoy helping people with fish problems both on the forums and real life. Roughly once a month a friend or coworker comes to me with a "fish question." I don't mind at all. I love it! ^-^
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Old 02-02-2012, 05:05 PM   #8 
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I also want to add - do not change your filter cartridge whilst you are cycling! Or when it's finished, actually. You will lose all the good bacteria stored in your filter and the cycle will restart. If you have carbon in the filter, that does need to be replaced, but filter floss, sponge or ceramic noodles do not.
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Old 02-02-2012, 06:07 PM   #9 
engeler1
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Great, thanks to both of you!

I did my first extra 50% water change tonight. And will go get a chemistry kit and gravel vacuum this weekend.

One last question -- Is there any credence to my initial theory that the water was too low to be pulled into the filter effectively? I don't think so as the water seems to come out of the filter in a nice light waterfall fashion.

So I don't think I need to buy a lid so I can move the water level up to 1" from the top from where it is right now. (2.5" from top). But just wanted to doublecheck so I don't have to make two trips to the store...

Thanks for your patience in all my questions!
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:34 PM   #10 
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There might be. The higher above the water line the filter needs to pull the water, the weaker the power of the pump is. This is why I always turn my filters off when I do a water change: I don't want to burn out the mechanics. There could be something to that theory, but I don't know enough about the mechanics of filters to answer definitively.
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