I don't really want to talk about this. I feel like @#$! over it, I feel dumb, I feel like no matter what I do, I just keep making mistakes over and over, all because my flipping 10gal leaked and I needed something to put my fish in.
I had gotten plastic tubs, like some other users. I put them in the bathtub and ran the hottest water we get through them, until there was no hot water left. I've done 50 and 75% water changes when things seemed to not be well, or when my fish seemed distressed, since I don't have a test kit yet (it's on my list to get asap). I use Prime water conditioner, 2 drops per gallon, so the tubs needed about 12 drops each, adding a bit extra as they came out to about 5 gal of water with decor.
They had filters, baffled, heaters, thermometers to make sure the temp was stable. And yet they just kept getting sick.
I was sure I was going to lose Duckie (the marble roundtail boy with the yellow lips). I floated him in the girls' tank, adding their healthy water to his cup, and after a day or two, he was back to normal. I did a good water change on his tub, vacuumed the gravel, and acclimated him back in. He was fine for a day or so, then started getting listless again. His pond snails were fine, his shrimp was fine, but he lost interest in everything.
So I gave in and got another 15gal kit from Petco.I divided it once, cleaned everything with the hottest water we go, and filled it up. I have a small, baffled filter on each side, and used some "established" gravel on top of the cleaned gravel. There's some life marimo, java fern, and anubias on both sides, silk plants, and hiding places. I'm acclimating Duckie and his neighbor slowly. Duckie is already looking better and being more active/curious again, so I am hoping he's not too stressed and will pull through this. His neighbor is a gorgeous "big ear" halfmoon I found at Petco. They were each in their own heated tub, but these two are the only ones who made it.
Like I said, I feel awful, I feel foolish. I kind of feel like I shouldn't even offer advice on anything because I've lost so many of my own males from stupid, idiot mistakes. I even half wanted to give up and forget having males at all. My girls are doing fantastic, eating well, I redecorated their tank and it looks so much nicer, cleared out a lot of the tannin so it's easier to watch them. Apparently, it's just boys I can't do anything right with.
When I was ready to breed, I was going to use a nice, big tub like so many others do, but I returned it instead. If the smaller ones, despite cleaning thoroughly and doing water changes every couple of days, were killing my boys, there's no way that little fry would ever make it.
I guess, for anyone that wants to use tubs for their fish, either as a temp home or permanent, keep this in mind. I used the regular sterilite tubs from Walmart. I don't know if there's another brand that's better or safer, but I refuse to risk my fish again to find out. I'll clean the tubs and use them for fish accessory storage, but no living creature is going to live in them.