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Tundra9 03-23-2009 07:57 AM

how to clean a tank the right way?
I have had my 20 gallon tank for about a week now and need to do a water change. I have my siphon and bucket. My question is how to clean the tank the right way? I want to know step by step instructions on how to do it the right way. Also is it alright to leave the fish in the tank while doing this? Do i add chemicals while there in there?

Byron 03-23-2009 10:05 AM

You leave the fish in during water changes. Hold the siphon just above the gravel so it disturbs the top of the gravel layer a bit and move slowly around the tank (you'll soon get the feel of this). If you have live plants, don't uproot them. Remove 1/4 to 1/3 of the water, no more. Fill a bucket with fresh water--make sure you add water conditioner to the new water (conditioners work instantly), and it should be the same temperature or very slightly cooler, and the same or close pH and hardness. The pH and hardness is normally not an issue unless your tank is buffered to be drastically different from the tap water. Siphon the new water in, and there you are.

JohnnyD44 03-23-2009 11:35 AM

If you have a gravel subtrate subtrate, you can just shove the siphon into the gravel, this will help remove fish waste and detritis....but becareful around your plants

Byron 03-23-2009 12:04 PM


Originally Posted by JohnnyD44 (Post 181695)
If you have a gravel subtrate subtrate, you can just shove the siphon into the gravel, this will help remove fish waste and detritis....but becareful around your plants

Fully agree, but in a brand new setup I would suggest not being too thorough; the detrius will help the biological cycling. And if there are plants, this stuff is fertilizer. Once the tank is fully cycled (8+ weeks) you can be more thorough, but still no need to get everything. I dig down in the gravel substrate in the open areas but never near plants.

Tyyrlym 03-23-2009 12:59 PM

A couple other things. If you have a hang on back filter it's a good idea to swish the filter cartridges in the old tank water you siphon out to clean them. Additionally before doing any vacuuming I'd recommend doing any algae scrapping from the glass you're going to do.

1077 03-23-2009 01:00 PM

Informative responses. I might also suggest that in a week old tank, to not clean or replace the filter material for this too harbors the beneficial bacteria. I would rinse the filter material out in old aquarium water that I took out during the water changes and stick it back in.
TY,, Seems we were both posting at same time. Anyhoo,, I second Ty's suggestion in regards to filter material.

Tyyrlym 03-23-2009 01:03 PM

Oh, yeah. Very true, only a week in I wouldn't touch the filter at all. Not until the tank has fully cycled or until no more water is flowing through the media.

Fishin Pole 03-23-2009 01:13 PM

I agree with Byron, dont use a substrate vac/syphon for at least the first 3 months of your new tank...........It would have to be really dirty for me to try to suck the stuff up before 3 months time, i believe by then the tank should be stable enough that losing some of the beneficial bacteria wont have such a big impact.........Having plants will help breakdown some of what is in the gravel, but not all of it.........

Tyyrlym 03-23-2009 01:20 PM

Most of your beneficial bacteria will be in the filter. Waiting three months to clean your gravel would be counter productive in my opinion. The material in the gravel will be rotting away, adding more and more ammonia to the system. While you shouldn't go crazy with the vac while the tank is cycling waiting three months to vac at all is going too far in the other direction. At most gently vac a third to a half the gravel at any one time.

Fishin Pole 03-23-2009 01:44 PM

I must disagree, i have a tetra tank thats been running for 2 years and i have only cleaned the substrate once in that time..........The water is crystal clear, never had an ammonia spike or mini cycle and the only thing laying on the substrate is leaf matter (which i pick out with my hands)..........Enough plants and they use the excess detrius for food..........I have lost only one fish in this tank over the last 2 years............There is also beneficial bacteria living in your substrate, not just your filter media, and considering people are gonna change that more than your substrate, disturbing the bacteria in the substrate in the first few months is asking for a problem that can be avoided IMO.....As long as your ammonia and nitrites are in check, i dont mess with the substrate for the first few months.......

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