5 Gallon Tank Fish-In or Fishless - Water change?

BettaBoomer

Member
I have a single betta in a 5-gallon tank. He's brand new.

When it comes to a water change many suggest leaving the fish-in the tank while others say remove the fish to a smaller contain filled with tank water for the duration of the change. I've seen some people express preference for each option. Opinions and rationale I have heard for both:
  1. If you leave the fish in the tank it will get stressed especially if it is a new fish. The thought is that over time it will get used to the water changes and be less stressed.
  2. If you leave the fish in the tank some are concerned it may inadvertently get sucked into the syphon which is especially true for smaller species.
  3. On the other hand some say removing the fish from the tank and putting it into a smaller container would alsol be stressful. But like the fish-in method wouldn't the fish eventually get used to it and be less stressed (sidebar: maybe adding his favorite moss ball to the container will distract him).
Other considerations:
  1. I'm thinking for a smaller change (say 10 %to 15%) which will normally be shorter, leaving the fish in the tank may be OK (as long as you aren't concerned about sucking him into the syphon).
  2. Meanwhile a larger water change which would take longer especially if you are also doing tank maintenance (cleaning the walls of the tank, removing and cleaning decorations, etc.) moving to a separate container would be preferred. Also, it's my understanding that fish may get stressed if you simply move decorations or remove them from the tank for cleaning so there is that if you leave him in the tank.
  3. As long as you consistently use one method it seems like the fish would get used to it either way?
Recap:
  1. If it's a short 10 to 15 minute water change is it even an issue?
  2. If it is going to be longer (20 minutes to an hour or more to include things like boiling & scrubbing decorations, etc.) is one preferable over the other based simply on time and activity (removing, cleaning and returning stuff, size of the tank, etc.)?
Perhaps I'm over-thinking this but I want to get it right (and perhaps I'm being just a LITTLE OCDC) my primary concern is making it as comfortable for my betta as possible.

Thanks for any responses, suggestions, comments.
 

John58ford

Member
Any water change in a 5 gallon would take less than 10-15 minutes. The x-small python (brand) gravel vacuum is great for tanks that size.

There is no such thing (in my opinion) of accidentally sucking a betta into a siphon if you are hand siphoning, it would be along the lines of accidentally hitting a pedestrian, in a marked pedestrian zone, with a car. More of a negligence thing. I guess don't text and vac.

The betta will be curious about the activities, he will see stuff in the clear tube and come look at it. If he gets near the bottom, kink the hose. While you vacuum there should always be one hand kinking, and one hand vacuuming.

Taking a betta out of a tank with a net tends to cause fin issues, if you have to remove him use a cup and get him to swim to it, but for 25-50% changes, just leave him in. I've gone as far as 75% in larger tanks, and have seen people with breeder operations run so low the fish had to swim sideways for a minute while the pumps switched.
 

AggressiveAquatics

Member
Please leave your fish in the tank! It just causes extra stress to remove them and it’s totally unnecessary.
 

Jojo205

Member
I think taking the fish out would be far more stressful than a siphon in the tank.I don’t have a betta, but one of my guppies always comes up to the front of the tank and plays with the siphon while i’m removing water, then he always chases the bubbles when I put in more water. I think he enjoys it when I do WCs
 

StarGirl

Member
Leave the fish in and watch carefully where he is. It is far more stressful to take him out or do multiples of water changes. They will sneak in where your hand/arm are blocking your view so watch closely.
 
  • Thread Starter

BettaBoomer

Member
John58ford said:
Any water change in a 5 gallon would take less than 10-15 minutes. The x-small python (brand) gravel vacuum is great for tanks that size.

There is no such thing (in my opinion) of accidentally sucking a betta into a siphon if you are hand siphoning, it would be along the lines of accidentally hitting a pedestrian, in a marked pedestrian zone, with a car. More of a negligence thing. I guess don't text and vac.

The betta will be curious about the activities, he will see stuff in the clear tube and come look at it. If he gets near the bottom, kink the hose. While you vacuum there should always be one hand kinking, and one hand vacuuming.

Taking a betta out of a tank with a net tends to cause fin issues, if you have to remove him use a cup and get him to swim to it, but for 25-50% changes, just leave him in. I've gone as far as 75% in larger tanks, and have seen people with breeder operations run so low the fish had to swim sideways for a minute while the pumps switched.
Thank you for the good advice. That is what I will do. I hadn't even thought about the fin issues. I like your analogy about the pedestrian. ‍
AggressiveAquatics said:
Please leave your fish in the tank! It just causes extra stress to remove them and it’s totally unnecessary.
Thanks - Will Do!
Jojo205 said:
I think taking the fish out would be far more stressful than a siphon in the tank.I don’t have a betta, but one of my guppies always comes up to the front of the tank and plays with the siphon while i’m removing water, then he always chases the bubbles when I put in more water. I think he enjoys it when I do WCs
Interesting how different fish have different personalities. I will see how inquisitive my betta is about WC
StarGirl said:
Leave the fish in and watch carefully where he is. It is far more stressful to take him out or do multiples of water changes. They will sneak in where your hand/arm are blocking your view so watch closely.
Thanks for the advice about watching where he is.
 
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