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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our lovely Rainbow passed away last night. :( I believe it was just from old age. I hadn't seen any signs of other illness, other than he seemed unusually stressed after last week's water change. ( I tested the water and parameters were good.)

It took months and finally some donated filter media to get the tank to cycle, so I'd like to avoid having to try to start a brand new cycle if possible. We plan to get a new betta soon who will live in this tank. So what do I need to do to prepare the tank for the new betta? Can I keep the BB alive if I add some fish food to the tank or put in some water that I know has some ammonia in it? If I do a 100% water change and rinse the filter media in tank water would that be okay and safe for the new betta? Or do I have to remove and rinse everything in hot water?
 

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Don't do anything! Just get a new fish. Your bacteria colonies will survive for a while without you having to do anything.
 
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I would, but that's just me (I have a bit too much microbiology in my background) ;)
 

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With a background in microbiology, you must appreciate how futile sanitizing is - everything you try to remove from the tank comes right back again. And speaking of which - there were no signs of disease.... So what exactly are you "cleaning" other than the beneficial bacteria, which keep the fish safe. No where else in the fish keeping world does anyone consider starting over when a fish dies. It's just such a counterproductive practice.
 

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Aww, I'm sorry about Rainbow. :(

Yeah, just go ahead and get yourself a new fish. Adding fish food sounds like a good idea if you want to be extra safe.

I might be wrong, but I think you only have to sanitize stuff if the fish died from a contagious disease... otherwise, there's not much point. You might have a little extra ammonia in there if you didn't notice him right away (like if he passed on overnight), but that's about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How long would the BB be okay without a fish in there? We haven't been able to make the trip to Petco yet. It's 18 miles away.

THere were no signs of disease as far as I could tell, but he was probably close to 3 years old. Sunday night he was having some difficulties swimming, similar to how he acted after the last water change only I hadn't done anything. I thought this might be the end for him so I "said my good-byes" before going to bed. He passed on during the night sometime.

I'll at least do a 50% water change with gravel vac before adding a new fish. It was due for that anyway. If you think it's advisable in the event we don't get another fish for a couple more days, I can add a couple pellets.

Thanks for the condolences, myexplodingcat.
 

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I've had tanks empty for months and not lost the cycle.
 

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With a background in microbiology, you must appreciate how futile sanitizing is - everything you try to remove from the tank comes right back again. And speaking of which - there were no signs of disease.... So what exactly are you "cleaning" other than the beneficial bacteria, which keep the fish safe. No where else in the fish keeping world does anyone consider starting over when a fish dies. It's just such a counterproductive practice.
Of course sanitizing a tank is futile ;-). My statement was due to 2 reasons:

1) I never saw the fish so I personally can't guarantee that he was disease-free at the time of death.
2) Even if the fish simply died of "old age" it is likely that some opportunistic pathogen (likely a normal bacteria present in the tank) gained a foothold in the immunocompromised fish and contributed to his actual demise (an analogy would be pneumonia in the elderly). My concern would be whether this opportunistic pathogen is now present in the tank in greater numbers than normal, which could cause a problem for a new fish that is already stressed from being acclimated to a new home. Of course, I'd be much more worried if the deceased fish had been left in the tank for a while than if he had been removed quickly.

Edited to add: Just letting a bit of time pass while feeding the bacteria with some ammonia should ameliorate the second concern.

I do agree with you and I'd say the most likely scenario is that everything will be fine. If I had any tiny bit of doubt about the true cause of death though (or the dead fish had been sitting in the tank for a while), I'd just sanitize everything, grab a bit of media from another tank, and establish a new cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Okay.... well I went to do a 50% water change today in the fishless tank because it's possible we'll get to Petco tonight, or at least in a couple days, and there was a fine black "dust" on top of the ceramic jug/cave hideout. I don't recall ever noticing this before when doing water changes. Any thoughts on what it is? Do you think it's always been there and just never settled on top of something before because the betta swimming around kept it from settling? The sponge in the filter is a dark color. Could it be from that? I did remove it and rinse it in tank water a couple weeks ago. I hope this didn't contribute to my betta's death.

Kim - It's not a simple thing for me to "grab a bit of media from another tank" because I got the seeded filter media from someone in another state. I do have a little leftover that I didn't need, but I don't know if it's good anymore even though I've been keeping it moist.

I proceeded with the water change but am just wondering where that dust came from and if it is harmful. Thoughts?
 
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