Cleaning/sterilizing a tank after a fish dies, what needs to be replaced?

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Nancy Drew

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HI all. We had a Betta in a 5 gallon Eclipse Hexagon tank for a week. He just passed away, despite heroic efforts to save him. You'll just have to trust me on this. I hadn't cycled the tank, but I was using products that claimed I didn't need to. Never again. I don't think it was ammonia that killed him, though. He had white stringy patches on his face and near his tail, and a little on his tail. I was doing partial water changes, using a gravel vac, etc. Again, I know I should have cycled first. I know.

But now that he is gone, the kids and I would like to try again. Yes, this time I will fully cycle the tank. I'm worried about whatever illness killed my fish "lingering" in the tank, though. I've emptied it, rinsed the heck out of the gravel (like 30 minutes of rinsing, slushing it in water, pouring the water off, rinsing again, slushing it again, pouring it off again, repeat), I'm soaking the plants in water with water conditioner, I'm soaking the decorations in plain tap water for now. I've rinsed the tank with hot water and wiped with a paper towel. I'll likely repeat all of that before putting anything in the tank with water.

But what about the filter and the bio-filter? I had medicated the tank, and he was in the tank while sick for a few days (he had a tiny white patch for maybe 2 days before he took a turn for the worse). Do I replace the filter cartridge and bio-filter? Any other precautions I should take? Should I use a weak bleach solution on everything and then dechlorinate?

Thanks for any advice.
 

Aquarist

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Good morning Nancy Drew and Welcome to Fish Lore!

So sorry to hear about your loss. Cycling your tank fish-less is the way to go. Less stress for you and the fish Try not to feel to badly as many of us have made the same mistake over the years.

You can use a bleach/water solution on the tank if you want. 1 part bleach to 19 parts water. Rinse until you no longer smell the bleach. Fill the tank 1 more time, add the chemical that removes chlorine, rinse and you should be fine.

A good soak in hot water should kill anything in the gravel. Too, you could always boil the gravel to be on the safe side.

As for the filter media, personally I would throw it out and add new. You don't want to soak sponges or anything porous in bleach/water. It may never come out. Too, you don't want any medicine residue going into the newly cleaned tank.

If you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask.

Best wishes,
Ken
 
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Nancy Drew

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Thank you.
 
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