Question about getting rid of all the water... - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-13-2011, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Question about getting rid of all the water...

Quick question, Ive been kinda neglectful in my tank and have been changing water ever 2 weeks instead of every week... Now the rocks are gross and filthy in the bottom. Can I just empty all the water and wash the rocks as long as the decorations are left alone? I basically want to empty the tank and wash the rocks and then throw them back in and throw the decorations. Just worried that itll screw the entire cycle that i worked so hard to create last year.

I have a 20 Gal tank

1 sword tail (male)
3 silver molly's (females)
1 Sail fin molly (male)
1 algae eater
3 neon dwarf rainbows
5 cardnial tetras
3-5 baby molly's (cant find them all)

Thanks for all the help in advance
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-13-2011, 09:16 PM
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Quick question, Ive been kinda neglectful in my tank and have been changing water ever 2 weeks instead of every week... Now the rocks are gross and filthy in the bottom. Can I just empty all the water and wash the rocks as long as the decorations are left alone? I basically want to empty the tank and wash the rocks and then throw them back in and throw the decorations. Just worried that itll screw the entire cycle that i worked so hard to create last year.
Like my dad said to me in my youth "If I catch you throwing rocks I'll blister yer a$$!"

Unless you have piranha in there, you don't need to drain all the water to get to the rocks. Why not just do a proper 20-25% water change (50% if really bad) using a gravel siphon and remove, clean and then put the rocks back in. The good bacteria predominantly lives in your filter and gravel, not on your rocks and decor.

I take rocks and plastic plants and other decor and run them through my otherwise empty dishwasher with a cup or two of white vinegar. You could use chlorine bleach, but I think vinegar is more natural and less offensive to me and the environment.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 10:21 AM
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Like my dad said to me in my youth "If I catch you throwing rocks I'll blister yer a$$!"

Unless you have piranha in there, you don't need to drain all the water to get to the rocks. Why not just do a proper 20-25% water change (50% if really bad) using a gravel siphon and remove, clean and then put the rocks back in. The good bacteria predominantly lives in your filter and gravel, not on your rocks and decor.

I take rocks and plastic plants and other decor and run them through my otherwise empty dishwasher with a cup or two of white vinegar. You could use chlorine bleach, but I think vinegar is more natural and less offensive to me and the environment.
A little lesson I learned about the dishwasher.. I got that idea one fine day and decided to run the rocks and decor in one of my tanks. I ran a sani rinse cycle first with the thought of getting any residue from the previous wash through the system so no chance of soap contamination. Well, long story short I forgot that our dishwasher has a reservoir you can use for spotless rinse products. Ours was in use, and it had chemicals.

RIP Marco - 2.13.11
Our 'feisty fish'
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 10:50 AM
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A little lesson I learned about the dishwasher.. I got that idea one fine day and decided to run the rocks and decor in one of my tanks. I ran a sani rinse cycle first with the thought of getting any residue from the previous wash through the system so no chance of soap contamination. Well, long story short I forgot that our dishwasher has a reservoir you can use for spotless rinse products. Ours was in use, and it had chemicals.
Excellent point - we really don't want/need rinsing agents in play. Having said this, most rinsing agents are fairly inert and prevent hard water deposits and a subsequent rinse should take care of it.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 12:00 PM
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Quick question, Ive been kinda neglectful in my tank and have been changing water ever 2 weeks instead of every week... Now the rocks are gross and filthy in the bottom. Can I just empty all the water and wash the rocks as long as the decorations are left alone? I basically want to empty the tank and wash the rocks and then throw them back in and throw the decorations. Just worried that itll screw the entire cycle that i worked so hard to create last year.
To follow-up my previous post, you can do a total tear down and cleanup...just handle your fish properly, then preserve your filter with water and only rinse your gravel in aquarium water to preserve the bacteria.
Clean the tank, put it all back together, fill with proper temperature conditioned water, ensure temperature is stable, re-introduce stock properly and you should be good.
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 01:05 PM
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Another two issues need to be considered.

If this tank has been let go for a time, the water may well be slightly acidic (pH below 7). If the new water raises the pH above 7, the fish might be poisoned by ammonia. In acidic water ammonia changes to ammonium which is harmless, which is why the fish "survive" such messes. As soon as the pH rises above 7, it immediately changes back to toxic ammonia. Fish can die quickly from this.

Nitrates is another issue with dirty tanks being cleaned. This can be just as detrimental due to the shock.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 01:13 PM
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Another two issues need to be considered.

If this tank has been let go for a time, the water may well be slightly acidic (pH below 7). If the new water raises the pH above 7, the fish might be poisoned by ammonia. In acidic water ammonia changes to ammonium which is harmless, which is why the fish "survive" such messes. As soon as the pH rises above 7, it immediately changes back to toxic ammonia. Fish can die quickly from this.

Nitrates is another issue with dirty tanks being cleaned. This can be just as detrimental due to the shock.
Do nitrites and nitrates become harmless in acidic water as well or is that just for ammonia?
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 01:18 PM
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Do nitrites and nitrates become harmless in acidic water as well or is that just for ammonia?
Only ammonia. Nitrites and nitrates remain toxic. However, other factors affect nitrites and nitrates if the water is acidic, and the more acidic the more the effect.

Nitrifying bacteria (nitrosomonas and nitrospira) require "optimum" conditions to live and multiply; this includes temperature and pH. At a pH of 6.4 scientific evidence shows that nitrosomonas bacteria have great difficulty multiplying. At pH 6 they stop completely, and some sources inidcate they start dying off. Thus, there is nothing to convert ammonium to nitrite, so nitrite (and the subsequent nitrate) won't increase without bacteria.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 01:24 PM
So there you go - sounds like you let it get really bad, so tear it all down, clean it up and put it back together.... handle your stock, filter and gravel properly and you should be good.
I'm assuming you're not overstocked and won't over feed and will learn from this lesson.
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-14-2011, 01:51 PM
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Good feedback Byron, thanks for that explanation.

RIP Marco - 2.13.11
Our 'feisty fish'
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