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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Morning everyone, hoping for any suggestions with my tank challenges! My Fluval Chi 5G was crystal clear for 2-3 months, then I did my usually bi-monthly 20% water change, but it got cloudy after a day. After that I decided to do a 40% change, same thing, cloudy after a day. I then did another 40% change a 2 days later, no help.

I can see particles that are laying in the gravel floating around when I shake my gravel cleaner up and and down to get the siphon started, so I figure there's a bunch of gunk in the gravel that my cleaner doesn't seem to be able to suck out!

It would seem I need to empty the entire tank and rinse the gravel off in the sink to get this stuff out! I tried catching my betta in a fish net when I first started doing water changes, but he's too evasive, I'm thinking I have to siphon out 80-90% of my water and then it might be easier to get him in a net and temporarily put him somewhere else to work on the tank for a bit?

Perhaps I'm not using the right technique with my Marina brand large gravel cleaner, but the particles seems to get airbourne so to speak, but they dont make their way up the cleaner pipe, they just float around and go through the filter, then back into the water.

Eager to hear any suggestions as to how I might do things differently to clear up this situation!

(I've tried the water clarifier product as well, made no difference.)

Thanks!

Jeff
 

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I'm pretty sure the cloudiness was just a bacterial bloom after the water change. It would've gone away in a few days to a week.

With the gravel, I don't know what to tell you, I have rock and smooth stones. So cleaning for me is a bit different. Sorry about that. ):

&& to catch my betta i just put the cup in the tank, he eventually investigates and I scoop him up. :)
 

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When the particles get airborne, you can use a baster to suck them up. Or, the gravel siphon hose too. That is what I do lol. Trust me in ANY tank with gravel, some stuff gets stuck that you miss but it does not cause a hige concern as long as you actually gravel siphon every week. :)

To get the stuff loosened, "churn" the gravel with the gravel siphon. then suck it up!!

To remove the betta: use a cup. Or a cup and net. Have the net block his way out, and he'll have to make it to the cup. Once near the cup you can quickly scoop him... if you use the cup as a "suction" method, it'll suck him in no problem.

The cloudiness is very common, and it is beneficial bacteria blooming and should go away 2-7 days. It can also just be your water (not harmful) but considering that is the first time it happened to you it is just bacteria lol. :)
 

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Just want to add to what others have been saying: bimonthly is probably not enough. Ideally, you want to be doing 25% a week in a 5 gallon.
 

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Morning everyone, hoping for any suggestions with my tank challenges! My Fluval Chi 5G was crystal clear for 2-3 months, then I did my usually bi-monthly 20% water change, but it got cloudy after a day. After that I decided to do a 40% change, same thing, cloudy after a day. I then did another 40% change a 2 days later, no help.
As mentioned before, bi-monthly water changes are not nearly enough to keep an aquarium clean.. weekly of 30-50% is needed, depending upon cycle, live plants, stock, etc.
What happened was after going a long period of no change, and then doing one you reset the cycle and spiked the ammonia up, along with the other chemistry.. which can very easily cause the fish to go into shock and die.
Very important to do weekly water changes- in a 5 gallon no live plants you will want to do roughly 40-50%, with vacuuming of the gravel, adding in water conditioner each week. Going that long without a chance will cause bad bacteria to thrive in the tank, and can in turn cause health problems with the fish..

I can see particles that are laying in the gravel floating around when I shake my gravel cleaner up and and down to get the siphon started, so I figure there's a bunch of gunk in the gravel that my cleaner doesn't seem to be able to suck out!
Filters don't remove waste and debris.. it's our job to do that every week.. it's our job to keep the tank clean and stable each week, there is nothing that will take that away from us.

It would seem I need to empty the entire tank and rinse the gravel off in the sink to get this stuff out! I tried catching my betta in a fish net when I first started doing water changes, but he's too evasive, I'm thinking I have to siphon out 80-90% of my water and then it might be easier to get him in a net and temporarily put him somewhere else to work on the tank for a bit?
You can also use his cup to get him off the surface of the water- once you start doing weekly water changes, he will become used to them and not stress out so much. I would recommend trying to scoop him out with his cup- as a net tends to rip fins, and with the bacteria in the tank, that can easily turn into fin rot.

Perhaps I'm not using the right technique with my Marina brand large gravel cleaner, but the particles seems to get airbourne so to speak, but they dont make their way up the cleaner pipe, they just float around and go through the filter, then back into the water.
I usually fill up the siphon with water from the sink, holding thumb over the small part that goes into the bucket and palm over the vacuum part.. I place the vacuum in the tank and lower the small hose- then release both at once.. it will start sucking in the water and you then lower into the gravel and move the suction section up and down in the gravel, lifting it slightly above the gravel to move to a new location.

Eager to hear any suggestions as to how I might do things differently to clear up this situation!

(I've tried the water clarifier product as well, made no difference.)

Thanks!

Jeff
If you do get cloudy water in the future, do a small change, such as 10% and in a day or so it should clear up.. but have to stick with weekly water changes as that is a must.

Good luck to you, if you have any other questions please feel free to ask!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Myates, thanks for the detailed reply! I should be more specific about the water changes I had been doing.

I was doing 20% a week for about 6 weeks and the water was perfect, then I started doing them every other week, which I think I did 3-4 times, the water still looked just as good on bi-monthly. But it just seemed to suddenly get really bad 24 hours after the next one.

Anyway I am thinking I should empty the whole tank out to get the gravel cleaned better, but that would be a 100% change which I suspect isn't a good idea?

This is a the gravel cleaner I have, http://www.hagen.com/uk/aquatic/product.cfm?CAT=1&SUBCAT=106&PROD_ID=01110630030101

I'm having a hard time understanding how you described using it. Assuming your instructions are compatible with the model I have, any chance you could explain it again? :)

I have left the tank for a few days with the cloudiness and it doesn't seem to be going away in 2-7 days due to bacterial bloom. Is it possible the particles in the gravel are causing the cloudiness still?

Thanks guys!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Update: I just watched a youtube video of the gravel cleaner in action, and I realized I havent even been putting it into the gravel! I was hovering it just above the gravel, no wonder it wasn't working that well!

That being said, perhaps you may suggest a different solution?

Thanks
 

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Re: gravel vac-
The physics of a gravel vac are pretty simple... just not immediately obvious. All siphons operate on the principle that water flows from high elevations to low elevations. So, if you could connect the water line in your tank with a lower water line, water would flow from the higher to the lower line. Now, the way you do this is by partially filling your gravel vac with water so that the water level in the hose of the vac is below the water line of your tank. One way is the way your packaging says - to shake the vac up and down. The vac has a check-valve in it, so the shake in one direction pushes water into the hose, but the other direction does nothing. Once the water has gotten far enough, gravity does the rest.

The way Myates is suggesting, you fill the vac and the hosing with water from the sink, put your hands over both ends to keep the water in place, and take your hands off once the vac is in your tank. There, you've connected a high level with a low level of water.

You can also suck start it - draw water through the hose the way you would a straw - until it's far enough through the hose. You can curl your fist tightly over the end so you don't have to actually touch it. =)

I know what you mean about the particles floating around but not going up the vac. One factor that controls this is how big a gravel vac you use. A larger hose will suck water up faster and may get more particles... depends on if a larger hose will fit, though. Or you can just turn your filter up and get finer sponge/polyfill to catch the small particles in the filter.

Re: catching your fish-

I currently have a relatively short-finned delta male, and boy is he fast! I can't catch him in a net unless I am super super fast, and usually that takes a number of failures first. He's too fast for me to sneak up on him with a cup and pull him in by the suction. So I put the cup in sideways, slowly so he doesn't startle and hide from it, and wait for him to swim into it. Usually I bribe him by putting food in the cup. He still hates it. Sigh.
 

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I was doing 20% a week for about 6 weeks and the water was perfect, then I started doing them every other week, which I think I did 3-4 times, the water still looked just as good on bi-monthly. But it just seemed to suddenly get really bad 24 hours after the next one.

Are you basing it off of accurate liquid test kits, or by sight? There are a lot of pathogens and bacteria you won't see, nor test for that build up in the tank the longer you go without a change.. Going a long time without a water change and then doing one is going to put you at risk for a spike in ammonia.

Either way, keep up on the weekly water changes of 40-50% with conditioner and vacuuming (mathkid got you covered there) and you should be fine.. if the tank is still cloudy right now, go ahead and do a 10% change and see how it is afterwards. You may just have to wait it out until everything settles in the tank for it to go away. Just make sure to test the water and see whether or not it's ammonia that has spiked up.
 

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I know what you mean about the particles floating around but not going up the vac. One factor that controls this is how big a gravel vac you use. A larger hose will suck water up faster and may get more particles... depends on if a larger hose will fit, though. Or you can just turn your filter up and get finer sponge/polyfill to catch the small particles in the filter.
Just to clarify - the larger hose takes water out faster, but since it's going through a larger cross section, the suction power might not change much. Another thing that *definitely* makes a difference is the height differential between your tank and the outflow bucket. Since gravel vacs operate by gravity, the greater the difference, the faster water will flow.
 

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For instance, my 29 is lower in height than my 20, because it is a long tank. I find it easier to siphon my 29 because the ledge is not so high, but the tank is off the floor. :) I find it hard to get the siphon to work right in the tall tanks.
 
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