My New 'Buisness,' Sort Of....
So today, I had all my stuff out from doing some maintenance on my own tank, and thought I'd do my neighbor's in the dorm across the hall, while I was at it. It took me an hour and a half to clean that tank. I had to literally empty out the entire thing, because it was so murky. They don't know how to properly feed the fish. Every time I put my siphon in the substrate, I saw chunks of old flakes passing through the tubes. After draining the water, I rinsed out the graven a couple times under hot water, and rinsed off all the decorations the same way. It was awful! if the fish was in the back of the tank, you couldn't see him. It was that murky. Poor fish has nitrate burns too. Hopefully a clean tank will help that. I told them that they should get some medicine. .Hopefully they will follow this advice.
So during this hour and a half of cleaning, I kept thinking that maybe I could make some extra money cleaning tanks. There are tons of aquarists in the dorms here, and I think I'm one of the few people who actually owns a siphon, and oddly enjoys cleaning fish tanks. Is that weird? Liking the process of cleaning fish poop? Anyway tell me what you think. I want to make a little money doing it, but I'm not sure how much to charge. I felt like what I did today was about 10 dollars of work, if I had been charging.
So here's what I'm thinking:
Basic Cleaning: $3
- Includes gravel siphoning, 1/4 water change, artificial plant and decor cleaning.
Thorough Cleaning: $6
- Includes gravel siphoning, 3/4 or complete water change, artificial plant and decor cleaning, equipment wash, cleaning of tank walls - interior and exterior.
While I applaud your thoughtfulness in wanting to help provide cleaner enviornment for neighbor's fish, there are a couple issues with your approach that you should consider.
The benficial bacteria in a cycled tank, that beak down ammonia from waste you desribed,, colonize on hard surface area's and the largest surface area in the tank will be the substrate, followed by the galss,decor,plant's.
By removing the substrate completely, and washing it under hot tapwater, you have also removed a sizeable amount of beneficial bacteria which could result in ammonia level's spiking, depending on number's of fish,volume of water, and amount of foods offered that are not readily eatenand or water change routine or lack thereof.
If filter material was not cleaned in similar fashion, then perhaps this will/would not be an issue, but best to clean the aquarium in stages as opposed to cleaning all decor and gravel at one time so as not to lose too much of biological filter.(clean half the gravel one week,and the other half the following week)
It does sound as though your neighbor has negelcted the tank, judging from your description of not being able to see the fish, flake food laying about, and this is sad but often happen's each year, when folks set up tank's in dorm rooms and life get's in the way.(Many betta's lost this way)
Fishes will try and adapt to the condition's they are in ,even bad condition's for they have no say/Choice.
Sudden changes to even poor enviornment, such as large water change of more than 30 percent ,often times result's in stressed, sick fish for the sudden change in water chemistry (pH, total dissolved solids,) is completely different to what they have been in previously.
Water changes in neglected tanks that have not received regular maint,,should in my view(other's as well) should be smaller, and more frequent, as opposed to large sudden change.
Maybe 25 to 30 percent twice a week to begin with, and then slowly increasing the amount of water to 50 or 60 percent over a period of a few week's unless problem is with ammonia level's where stress to fish from large water change is lesser of two evils.
Course in regularly maintained tank's with healthy biological filter, ammonia and or poor water condition's are not usually an issue, and large water changes are welcomed by fish = fewer sick or stressed fishes assuming water suit's the fish being kept (GH,pH).
I also applaud your resourcefulness in attempting to drum up some extra cash, but I would warn against sharing tools (bucket's,nets,syphons) acrosss several tanks without cleaning them after each use in bleach/water solution and allowing them to dry completely before using them again.
Failure to consider this could result in disease ,parasites,or bacterial pathogen's being carried to several tank's including your's.
Thanks for the info. I'll definitly be sure to only due the complete cleaning in severe cases, like the one I mentioned before. There was no way of getting around completely draining that tank. Hopefully I'll never have to do that again. Most tanks I've seen have clear water XD
I don't have any bleach, but I do clean my equipment in very hot water, like scalding hot. Is that okay?
I had an aquarium maintenance company when I was in college. Small, but I had a few steady customers (two private homes, one commercial) and it actually paid well. The rule-of-thumb (in the 1980's!) was $1/gallon of water for servicing. Honestly, larger tanks took much less work per gallon! At one point I was clearing about $300 a month for 10 hours of work. Wasn't a bad gig, but most folks will not want to pay you what your time, effort, and expertise are actually worth!
Many more issues with tank diseases these days, as already mentioned!
I like that. I'm thinking maybe $3 for every 10 gallons. So a 10 gallon tank would be $3, 20 gallons would be $6, etc. I feel like people won't pay much more around here.
If you want to get really creative then heres an idea for you;
Charge $.50 a gallon (minimum $5 a week)
And for that price they get their weekly water change and they join your fish exchange (must be a weekly active member)
One of the reasons people become neglectful is because they get bored of their tanks because they always look the same, so in this fish exchange they have the option of switching the fish in their tank once a month for fish you have in stock if they want it. Also if they so wish you can completely switch out their aquarium decor to something new every week when you do the water change.
This adds excitement and value for the price you charge so they are much more likely to pay it, plus this way you can make sure the fish stay in good health and keep people from over stocking or putting to big of a fish in a small tank. Of course this probably means you will need to keep more tanks to hold the extra fish but I'm sure you wouldn't mind that as you sound like a fellow addict. Once you get a base of stuff and fish its just all about rotating everything between peoples tanks. If a fish dies while someone has it then tell them they will need to get another from a pet shop to stay in the exchange (so you don't get stuck with that bill).
You wont make a fortune but it will be a nice little source of income.
Zof, you are a genius! This is also good, because I breed platys. I have one female about a week along at the moment. Calico/micky mouse fry will be so adorable :)
I'm going to set up the tank cleaning thing first and see how that works out. (So far I have 2 people asking me too clean their Betta bowls XD Thinking about 1.00 per bowl.
ZOF - That's a brilliant idea. Wish I'd thought of that one.
Dormfish I'm loving these ideas but don't sell yourself too short. A dollar? That just seems too low for the job I know you are going to do. Assuming you are only walking down the hall and not getting in a car... that costs gas money. You have a little niche market here. we just have to build this right!..
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