Need help with extremely DIRTY Fluval - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-06-2013, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
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Need help with extremely DIRTY Fluval

Hi all! I need some help....

So I got a new job and at the office my boss keeps a Fluval 5(I think?)gal tank. the one that is taller with the filter that comes out of the middle-top of the tank. I'm not sure when the last water change was. I know it was before Sept. 1st cause that's when I started working here.

There is a poor betta in the tank along with a mated pair of african dwarf frogs. I don't know what I should do first to fix up the tank. It looks nasty because there is a brownish algae on sides of the glass. There are many problems with the tank other than the water change..

1. He was feeding the frogs algae wafers and the betta flakes. I have since got betta food and pellets for the frogs from my LFS.

2. The light on the filter piece is broken. I have done a little research and figured out I have to purchase a whole new filter to replace the light, its a little expensive right now for me to buy - ~40$. And if I get a new filter and install it, I'm afraid the tank will go through a cycle and I don't want to subject the frogs and betta to that.

3. I don't have any equipment to do a water change. Since September I have seen him top off the tank with water, but when I asked him if he treated the water before he put it in and he didn't know what I was talking about! He said he makes sure its about the right temp tho. (I used to have a 55 gal tank with livebearers but shortly after I had to tear it down due to my sister having to move into my room. I am fully aware of cycling and the bacteria in the water.) I was hoping to buy a small vacuum hose and bucket over the weekend. But I'm not sure how big a water change I could do and also not shock the fish.

4. there is no heater in the tank! I don't want to shock the betta or frogs and put a heater in there, do you think they will be okay?

5. one of the frogs, the female I think as ive seen them mate once, is malnourished and yesterday when I put the first pellet from the pet store in, I'm not sure if she got any as I saw the male eating it, I think he was being a little piggy and hogging it lol. The betta also has a really hard time eating the flakes my boss had been giving it, I'm kinda surprised its still alive!

All in all, I would really appreciate any help or advice in what I need to do to help out this betta as he looks like hes in really bad shape and must really be hanging on!
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-06-2013, 12:59 PM
All you need for a water change is a container to hold water - a cup, a pitcher, etc. Dip, empty in appropriate facility. fill container from sink. condition it (Prime suggested), adjust temperature, slowly pour conditioned water in tank. Since there is no heater the first thing that should be provided is a adjustable, submersible heater (Hydor Theo - ~$ 15-20 on Amazon is used by a lot of Betta keepers). If finances permit a sponge filter w/air pump (Tetra Whisper works for me and others) will be a good addition.

You can use a credit card or similar to scrape the accumulated algae of the walls of the tank. When scraping keep cup handy to remove the scrapings as you go.

If the Betta and frogs are still alive the tank is probably cycled. The next purchase should probably be an API Freshwater Master Test Kit - about $20 - 30 at Amazon. All of the above should put the tank in great conditioner for the Betta and frogs.


Nobody's life, liberty and happiness are safe when Congress is in session. Hallyx kindly reminded me that this statement is attributed to Mark Twain. Even more pertinent today then when he said it.
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post #3 of 8 Old 12-06-2013, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the warm welcome! :)

The main reason why I wanted a bucket or larger container and a siphon is because the office is just a suite in a building and I would have to make multiple trips to and from the lunch room to fill/empty the tank

I will be getting supplies including a small heater, water dechlorinator, and maybe a water test kit.

Thank you for that tip on credit cards to scrape off algae!! that is probably what I'll do. I will be sure to clean the credit card first and rinse it well too! :)

I am mostly just afraid that clean water and a heater will shock the fish and frogs too much and they will die. Is this heard of? or am I being irrational thinking this?
thanks for the quick reply!

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post #4 of 8 Old 12-06-2013, 08:39 PM
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Start with small water changes, maybe 10-20%. And if I were you I would siphon the substrate. If must be pretty nasty. But start with small water changes so you don't shock the inhabitants.

Is there a thermometer in the tank? Do you know what the temp is? You need a heater in there. As suggested buy an adjustable one and bring the tank up to temp slowly.
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-08-2013, 10:07 PM
I have the same tank. I can't help you with a lot of the questions but I can tell you I use a turkey baster to clean the gravel. I tried a small gravel vac and it just wouldn't work. Plus you can pick up a turkey baster for a $1.
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-09-2013, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for all the advice everyone! I purchased a heater and a small vacuum and water dechlorinator at the store today and tomorrow I will update you on how things go with the tank! maybe even a pic or two if all works out well! :)
on a second note, I picked up a 20gal long at petco today. they were having a sale and it was 20$!!! could not pass up that deal.

later on, when I make room for it, I'll hopefully be able to start a journal for it :)

let's see if these dwarf frogs and the betta make it through a small water change tomorrow!
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-09-2013, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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I was able to do a water change of about 2 liters.

lol it was kinda tricky cause I got a siphon with a squeeze ball so it would be easy to start the siphon but the only container i had to put water in was a liter sized water bottle lol. I ended up spilling a little water on the carpet, but it dried up fine :)
the betta and frogs both became very lively, more than usual, during and after the water change! they all were playing in the fresh water as I was slowly pouring it into the tank. the betta began to show a little more color too :)

I also placed the heater in the tank and plugged it in. it's a 10 volt. right now the betta has positioned himself right above it, so id say he likes it! it's been a couple hours and they all seem fine.
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-09-2013, 11:42 AM
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don't do too much at once... the algae is helping to control the nitrates in that tank...if you clean it all at once, you risk an amonia and eventual nitrate spike... clean it slowly over the period of a week to allow the tank to stabilze after each "session"...

Wise men speak when they have something to say...fools speak because they have to say something.
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