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help please questions about..


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ok well as most of you know my barracks is allmost finnished and now i want to know how to test the water and do maintenance because i dont want to of gone threw all that trobble of setting up this tank and then have my bettas die on me again because i didnt know how to look after them

so i bought a api test kit and i would like to know what the right readings should be for my tank?, the kit tests for


and now maintenance, my tank is 65litres and will have 6 bettas the filters are a fluval plus 1 internal 200lp/h a filterbox that is 18cm wide 4cm deep and 9cm high that has sponge filter, bioballs and carbon and the tank has a Internal UV Sterilizer 9 watt

i would like to know (once it is cycled) when should i do

1. waterchanges and how much percent?

2. do i have to do 100% waterchanges? if so when?

3. when should i clean the filters

4. when should i clean the sand?

5. am i missing anything else i need to do to keep the bettas healthy?

and the last question how on earth do you clean sand? it was easy in my tanks when i had no substrate or gravel because they wouldnt get sucked up when i siphon with a air line tube

i do have a gravel vaccuum but im guessing the sand would still get sucked up

thanks in advance


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1. Water changes would be based around keeping nitrate levels under control. Less than 20ppm is desirable for big fish like oscars, but I don't know about bettas. This is referring to a cycled tank. In uncycled or filterless tanks, water changes would be based around keeping ammonia and nitrite levels as low as possible, preferably zero.

2. If you only ever do partial water changes, you'll get this thing called Nitrate Creep. Eventually the nitrate level will slowly build up to an unacceptable level despite your water changes, so then you have to do larger water changes or just change the lot.

3. I'm notoriously lazy at cleaning filters. I do know this though - DO NOT rinse the filter media with tap water. Save up some of the drained tank water and give the sponges a gentle squeeze out in the old tank water. If you use tap water you will kill the bacteria. I clean my filter media maybe once per month. Some people do it once per week or with water changes.

4. Do you mean gravel vac? Clean the sand everytime you do a water change. Your filter isn't enough to pick up larger particles, uneaten food and poo left behind. This stuff left to rot in the gravel is a source of ammonia and thus in a cycled tank is a source contributing to nitrate levels, so the more of this junk left in the sand, the more water changes you will have to do.

Sand is a pain in the butt - you can't vacuum it... you could try stirring up the water first then siphoning out the water with the poo's and food all floating...

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Here's an alternate view point :)

1...With bettas....if you heavily plant the tank with water sprite and duckweed and provide adequate lighting you will find it unnecessary to do 100% water changes

I still do 30% water change /week to add nutrients for plants

2 If you don't plant the tank then 100% water change every 3 months should do

3...Sorry Beano....have a look at this...Bacteria

in summary in a cycled tank bacteria form a tough membrane.....that resists chemicals. A quick wash in tap water wont hurt....once the tank is cycled properly

4...Alternate to vacuuming the sand is to have lots of snails and shrimp....they clean up any left over food....cleaning is then for aesthetics, not for function

5...Keep their water warm....and show males a mirror once or twice a day...when the aren't breeding

Personally....I don't like using carbon full time....extracts nutrients plants use. Same with uv sterilizer.....ok in Hospital tank or for new fish....but also kills Good bacteria!

My philosophy in fish keeping is to see what happens in nature and do the best I can to replicate it.....without to much Hi tech equipment

You wont go wrong following what Beano said....I'm just offering another perspective :)

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Interesting link you gave us there Rod. I browsed the rest of the site and I want a koi pond now. :) But I think we're not allowed to have koi in Victoria. Not 100% sure about that.

Unfortunately koi are noxious in Queensland too....Not in NSW????

I sometimes question our collective intellect!

It's interesting....there are a lot of commonly held concepts in fish keeping that are nothing more than urban myths

Wish there was more scientific study by independant sources.....not marketing hype by those trying to flogg the latest gyzmo....but hey that's the way our society works

You just can't believe everything you are told?

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thanks for the reply guys

ok so is this right?

100% w/c i dont have to do because the tank will be planted but can do if i want

partial w/c can be done once a week for nutrients for the plants and keeping nitrate levels under control but i will be using florish so sould i still do 25% once a week or every second week?

clean filter media once a month in tank water

rod you suggested shrimp or snals to keep the sand clean so would one glass shrimp be ok in each tank which is 6.5litres or will it take nips at my bettas?

or should i put one Gold Mystery Snail in each?

also does any one know what the PH, AMMONIA, NITRITE, NITRATE LEVELS should be?

thanks again guys i really appreciate the advice

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It kinda depends how big the shrimp are. I wouldn't think they would take nips at the bettas but if they're small enough the bettas might take nips at the shrimp. I'm still not clear on whether you are actually using sand or if you really mean gravel. How big are the grains of sand? I personally don't like snails so I tried to avoid adding them if I can help it. And don't really see the need to clean gravel or sand. I would personally just allow the fish droppings to break down in the tank and fertilise the plants. My approach with planted tanks is to have enough plants in there so you never have to clean the gravel. If you are actually using sand, and it's light coloured then the droppings will look unsightly. In this case you could just siphon it out being careful to only siphon out the muck and not the sand as well. Generally in planted tanks you would try to disturb the gravel as little as possible.

pH 7, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0. Yes, still do partial water changes regardless of what fertilisers you're adding. Maybe in 6 months when the plants and the filter is really well established you can consider reducing the water changes. I have two bare tanks which hold my females. They just have a corner box filter, an IAL and a little bit of java moss. I haven't changed water in these tanks for about 6 weeks. I went to an EDAS Plant Study Group meeting at Ron Bowman's place a couple of months ago. Ron is a very experienced fish keeper and the planted display tank in his house gets a partial water change about once a year. The key is lots of plants and not very many fish.

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thanks alot for that mike, now i know what readings i should be getting for the water tests

i was hoping that i wouldnt really have to clean the sand and droppings so you made my day lol

i will just let the dropping fertilise the plants and the plus is that the sand is black so you wont notice it that much

its good to hear too that i dont have to be strict on doing partial waterchanges but i will do 25% once or twice a week until its cycled and then i might do one every two weeks but ill keep a eye on the ammonia and so on

heres a pic with the moon sand that i got today and for plants i am going to still have a mini piece of driftwood in each tank that has Anubias Nana attached to it and 2 pieces of Corkscrew Vallisneria in each tank

oh and i still might get 1 glass shrimp for each tank just cause i think they look cool and are soo small (2cm)


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If that is AquaOne sand, wash it REALLY well. Phil had some serious issues in his tank when he was using it, but I've been using some of the stuff from his tank and it is seemingly fine now, so all I can think is that it might have been stored incorrectly or picked up a contaminant somewhere along the way. I'd just err on the side of caution and make sure it has had a good bath :D As for cleaning, just swoosh it occasionally, it compacts a little but not too badly, and a bit of a swoosh will move the waste out of the corners and into the water, where it can be caught by the filter.

Plant well, you will hardly see a spike in ammonia or nitrite at all. Diana Walstead did a bit of a test a (long!) while back and it seems that, given a choice, plants will use those two before they move on to the nitrate, which means that if you have enough plants you can cruise through a cycle with low or no detectable readings.

Are you cycling with pure ammonia, something decaying, bottled starters or fish? If you aren't using fish, don;t change the water. If you are, plant first and give the plants a week or so to settle. Fast growing stem plants seem to suck more ammonia than rooted plants so even if you aren't going to keep them long term, consider some hornwort or pennywort or something like that just to get you through the danger zone.

Don't think of your tank as barracks. The only time that is likely to play a part is when it comes to heat loss, gas exchange and evaporation. For water changes etc, think of it by water volume. In terms of water you have an understocked, planted 2' tank with some beefy filtration and a lot of surface area. Think of how you would treat a tank of that type and chances are it'll work for this too. :)

I'd also be inclined to ditch the carbon and maybe use it a few times a year. It is a bad idea to use carbon with planted tanks as it is non-discriminating when it comes to the things it removes, so providing it is the right size and type of molecule it will happily remove your plant food from the water along with anything else you are trying to take out. Carbon is really only necessary if you have something specific you want to take out of the water.

If you run the UV, and I personally would as you are likely to have expensive fish from multiple sources (which means multiple types and/or strains of pathogens that the fish from other areas may not have been exposed to) and some will still have stressed bodies from travel and holding, only run it for a few hours a day and don't run it while you are cycling. Similar to the carbon, it'll zap anything it touches including your good bacteria. Once you have a decent biofilm (I'd trust it to be stable at around 6-8 weeks) it doesn't matter if you run the UV, it won't adversely affect your biofilter as very little of your biofiltration is done by bacteria in the water but, while it is establishing, you don't want to be nuking all free floating organisms. Once you do start using it, 4 hours a day is generally regarded as enough time to wipe out a decent chunk of the free-floating organisms in the tank. Any time after that apparently makes very little difference overall and really, you aren't aiming for sterility, just for keeping any opportunistic pathogens in check until the fish have built up an immunity. If you have the same stock of fish with no additions for a period of, I don't know, lets say 6 months, then I'd be happy not to use the UV after that point as there is a good chance that they'd all have developed enough of an immunity.

Other than that, I can't really think of anything. :) I think it has all been covered!

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wow thanks for all the information callatya that really helps alot and now i think im starting to understand the hows and whys of cycling

i will do what you said about not using the carbon and not using the uv during cycling and i will be using my female bettas to start cycling

i havny started to cycle it yet because im still waiting for my plants to arrive so once they get here (hopefully by friday) i will start i just hope its cycled enough within 2 or so weeks because thats when the aquabid shipment id due

the sand is from caribsea, i did give it a really good wash when i got it and when i put it in the tank and put a bit of water in the water was a lil cloudy but its fine now i think it just had to settle abit

oh and you know how you said treat is as it was a understocked, planted 2' tank with some beefy filtration and a lot of surface area and it should work fine well thats the thing this tank is pretty much my first proper fish tank so i dont really know how to treat it so all these threads ive made and peoples resonces have been a big learning curve for me

thanks again

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