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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope someone will be able to help me rather quickly. I'm hoping to rescue a 55 gallon aquarium today with five fish in it. I have no experience with aquariums but have always wanted one and am willing to put in the time to learn.

I have read how to move it. My problem is that the tank has not been taken care of as the original owner was elderly and his daughter left it at the house. The house is sold and I am getting it from the estate sale the ends tomorrow.

The tank is very dirty. My avatar is a photo of it, but it's difficult to see.

Should I rinse the gravel and the decorations in it? They're covered with funky stuff. Is there a special kind of solution to use to clean those and the inside of the tank itself? I will be completely emptying the tank for the move and would like to get it clean and the water at the right ph.

Any advise will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
 

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Hello, I would put the fish in a sterilite or rubbermaid container with an airstone and fresh dechlorinated water. I recommend a large bottle of Seachem Prime{you will need it, try to find the 2 litre}
I would wash the tank out with white vinegar or a light bleach solution. Your choice to keep or replace the substrate. I personally would replace it. I would also suggest you ditch it before the move. Lifting the tank with a wet bottom full of heavy gravel can easily pop the bottom. Good luck with your rescue.
 

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You should also have on hand some good test kits to restart your cycle. API makes good kits. You will need PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate.
I would change the water with the fish daily. Feed very lightly while they are in there.
 

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If it has fish in it, and you're keeping it, then no you don't want to take out the gravel and wash it. You will need a gravel vacuum though.

I personally wouldn't suggest popping them in a container unless you know how to keep it right, and even then, because they will already be stressed and you don't want them worse. Especially since what you need done will also make things...well, my fish like water changes, they always pick on me when I do them and get all curious. lol Many get stressed out though. That and they're likely in dirty conditions, and the going directly from dirty to clean water can actually kill them.

Be sure you tell them to keep the filter media in a bag of TANK water for you so it doesn't kill off the beneficial bacteria and send your tank into a cycle.

As for the outside of the tank, I like to use either normal water and a washcloth, or if really bad I use a vinegar and salt mix with hot water, helps get off some of the tough stuff, just don't get it in the tank and be careful with the wood, just use water or wood cleaner for it(if fumey cover the tank until the place is aired out) and be sure you dry it well.

As for cleaning inside...don't do it too fast! I mean, if they drain it a lot for the move, which they will probably have to, you wont get much say there...(see if you can take a turkey baster and put it in the gravel and suck out gunk in at least half the tank, leave the other half for another time, you don't want to shock the fish anymore than they will be from the move and already likely large water change, going from dirty to clean when it hasn't been cared for can hurt them. The turkey baster will allow you to get right to the grit, but you will have to knock gravel out here and there lol).

Make sure you get yourself the water conditioners you need, and a testing kit, you will NEED a testing kit(preferably a liquid test kit as strips are rarely accurate) to make sure you don't have ammonia and nitrites spikes. Which will likely be there...if the tank somehow comes with most of the water, do a 30% change right off, use prime to help detoxify any toxins and condition your water, do it again tomorrow, and if your test kit shows ammonia or nitrItes after that, you can go with bigger water changes(40% or so). You may need to go with bigger changes and risk it if you have more than 30ppm of ammonia in the tank....

Lost my train of thought when someone broke a dish....hope I didn't forget anything important. lol Good luck with your new tank, just take it slow, make sure you keep up on research, and research the fish you're getting with the tank to be sure you have all their needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you both for the help. I will be moving it myself, so I plan to put the fish in water from the tank while I work on the cleaning the aquarium.

The gravel is pretty nasty and replacing it sounds good if it will not kill the fish. Should I keep some of it and add it to the new so it keeps some of the good bacteria?

How do I determine if it is a fresh or saltwater tank? I know this sounds very stupid, but I am truly a beginner. I think it may e saltwater because there is a white residue on the top panels that come off on the outside. I am thinking this is called salt creep.
 

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Could also be calcium and scale buildup from freshwater since the tank wasn't really maintained very well.

I wish we could tell from your picture :( If you do purchase the tank, bring some 5 gallon buckets and get some of that Prime water conditioner too.

And since it's going to take a long time to clean that sucker, the bucket with an airstone is a pretty good idea.
There might even be an airstone in the tank??

Hopefully you can get pics of the tank equipment and fish to post here soon.

Crossing fingers for you.
 

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How do I determine if it is a fresh or saltwater tank?
Stick your finger in it and taste it.:lol: Seriously if it is saltwater you are in for a much more difficult learning curve. Can you get pics of the fish? If the substrate is that dirty, it's not worth trying to save any bacteria. The filter is probably just as filthy. Get clear pics of everything and we can guide you. Drop some Prime in the water with the fish. This will neutralize any ammonia, or high nitrates. The tank is going to recycle with all this upset anyway, so you might as well start off with a clean system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You guys are so awesome. I just messaged the sale to make sure it hasn't sold. Chances are unlikely since I work for them and none of the people who came to buy there yesterday even seemed to notice it. Not a big market here for fish tanks since it is a big military base and everyone moves around quite a bit.

If it is still there, I'll go get some photos for you to take a look at. I will also stop at the store and get the supplies (air stone) that I will need. There is a huge basket of stuff there I found and put it with the tank. I just don't know what the products are or what they do yet :) I don;t think there is an airstone in there, but there are two things that have long tubes that move the air around. One on each side of the tank.

More to follow! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I so want to save these fish
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Can you get pics of the fish? If the substrate is that dirty, it's not worth trying to save any bacteria. The filter is probably just as filthy. Get clear pics of everything and we can guide you. Drop some Prime in the water with the fish. This will neutralize any ammonia, or high nitrates. The tank is going to recycle with all this upset anyway, so you might as well start off with a clean system.
I will some good photos asap.

Should I stop at the store on my way there and buy the Prime and add it when I get there? How much should I add to the tank?:oops:

The plan is to begin moving it late this afternoon.
 

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I would def. stop on your way. Use the tank water that the fish are in so you don't shock them and add triple dose of Prime to the bucket. Regular dose is 1-2 drops per gallon of clean water so I'd go with at least 5 or 6 drops per gallon for that tank water.

Prime doesn't remove the harmful stuff in that water (ammonia, nitrites etc...) but it does render them harmless for small periods of time.

We can talk about regular water change maintenance after you get them set up at home. The focus is to keep the fish alive while you clean and reset that tank up. You've got a long afternoon/evening ahead of you ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay, I will get some. I'm going to go ahead and go over there now and get some photos. Hopefully it will still be there. I think I'll buy a rubbermaid container also and fill it with water now and put the prime in it. That way, when I go back later to begin moving everything, the prime will have been in there for a while.

I'm excited about this!

I sincerely appreciate your help!
 

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Prime doesn't remove the harmful stuff in that water (ammonia, nitrites etc...) but it does render them harmless for small periods of time.
AH! I always mess that one up, it neutralizes them and makes it easier for you to remove with water changes, it doesn't take it out. lol I think it says it removes ammonia though, or perhaps I misread bottle.

Prime is great stuff, I like to always have it on hand and I use it with water changes now.

Yes, long road indeed. I, too, got a 55 gallon tank a while back...thankfully I didn't get any fish with it, but it was a huge mess(the person I got it from had about a dozen cichlids in there and said they died and killed each other for no reason, and then they left it sitting for like two years). Everything that came with it was completely trashed and barely worked if at all. The filters didn't work, I had to get new ones, the heater was ok, and the gravel was disgusting and stunk and it has so much filth stuck to the glass...eesh. o-o; If you can get someone to help you out, I suggest it. I did everything myself but moving it, since I obviously couldn't take it up the stairs myself. ^^; It's a lot of work! But it was so worth it for me, and I hope you enjoy yours just as much. :3
 
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Okay, I will get some. I'm going to go ahead and go over there now and get some photos. Hopefully it will still be there. I think I'll buy a rubbermaid container also and fill it with water now and put the prime in it. That way, when I go back later to begin moving everything, the prime will have been in there for a while.

I'm excited about this!

I sincerely appreciate your help!
I would advise against using all new tap water to put those fish in for now. You could shock those fish by changing their environment so drastically.

But, a bit of clean water added to the tank water that they're in might not be a bad idea. You also don't have to wait for the conditioner to sit if that's a concern.

I'm excited to see what you have waiting for you :)
 

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If your LFS is a mom and pop, or you know of one nearby, ask them to care for the fish while you get the tank up and reset. A big box store won't, but most reputable caring mom and pop's would do it. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You're right. I totally got off track. I know I need to keep the water they are in now for the move. I'm writing everything down step-by-step so I won't make any mistakes. Going to go get some photos, the airstone, rubbermaid container and gravel. I should be back here by 1:30 or so.

YAY!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If your LFS is a mom and pop, or you know of one nearby, ask them to care for the fish while you get the tank up and reset. A big box store won't, but most reputable caring mom and pop's would do it. Good luck!
I just looked and the closest aquarium store is in Nashville. That's an hour away :( If they don't survive, I will feel horrible. I wish I knew someone around here who has fish and is experienced that could help care for them but I don't.

Thank you again for your helping so much,
 

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AH! I always mess that one up, it neutralizes them and makes it easier for you to remove with water changes, it doesn't take it out. lol I think it says it removes ammonia though, or perhaps I misread bottle.
Nope - my bad. It def. removes ammonia. My head was thinking nitrites and nitrates and my fingers typed ammonia :)

Thanks for pointing that out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Okay, I am leaving now. I just have one more question...

Should I get a gray/dark rubbermaid or see though?

Seriously, I am going to log off and go over there as soon as I get a reply :)!
 
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