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I have a 5 gallon tank and was wondering how often I should do a water change, and how much water to take out. I have heard once a week, twice a week, and once a month... I have also heard 25% of the water taken out, 50%... What is right? Experienced fish owners please :)
 

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There's no definitive answer really. It would depend if the tank is cycled, contains live plants etc.

The easy/safest way to know for sure is to pick up a testing kit.

All my tanks are moderate to high planted. My 5g shows readings of less than 0.25 ammonia after 7 days. I perform at 33% water change every Saturday just to ensure My betta and water quality remain happy.

During cycling I changed 25% water every 2nd or 3rd day.
 

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Since you have a 5 gallon, you need to get a filter and cycle your tank. Below are some links to what the Nitrogen Cycle is and how to set one up.

http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=111960
http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=107771
http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=47838
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bK_D_1CyUCs

While your tank is cycling, you need to test the water every single day to look the at the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels in your tank. When ammonia reaches .50ppm you need to do a 50% water change.

Once your tank is finished cycling - you need to do at least one 50% water change with gravel cleaning every week. You should never do a 100% water change in a tank that has a filter.

If your tank isn't cycled (you really do need to cycle your asap) - then you need to do one water change a week following this pattern. 50% the 1st week, 50% the 2nd week, 100% the 3rd week. Then start the pattern over. But you really do need to cycle your tank.
 

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With my heavily planted 5g? I change it maybe twice monthly, but the params always remain rather low.

It really depends on your tank. No plants or shrimpy cleaners, I'd do at least weekly and gravel vac lightly alternating weeks with filter media swishing.

If you have plants, shrimpy cleaners, and decent filtration, and are cycled... Test it out every few days, and you'll probably find weekly to every other week will suit.

If it's new and cycling, I recommend 25-50% every other day for awhile, unless you're dumping in a bottle of TetraSAFE START+ -or- DrTims One and Only which contains bacteria... then test on the 3rd day and evaluate if you need to change prior to the first week.
 
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