How Often Should I Clean My 2.38 Gallon Tank?

frostmystique

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Hey guys,
I’ve currently got one Betta fish in a 9L (approx. 2.38 gallon) tank and I’m wondering how often I should be cleaning it. I’ve heard things ranging from every 4 days, to every fortnight, so I just thought I would come on here and get everyone’s opinion!
The tank has been fully cycled for around 8 months, and my Betta has been in there for 7. Currently I’ve been cleaning it every week however sometimes this seems like too frequent, as I feel like I’m removing some of the beneficial bacteria too frequently.
This is my current routine:

Every week:
Fortnightly:
  • Remove all decorations and scrub under hot water. I don’t do this every week because most are silk and I feel as though if I do this every week along with everything else I am removing too much of the beneficial bacteria from the tank
Monthly:
  • Rinse out the filter and sponges
  • Very lightly run water through carbon filter, however I don’t do this a lot (so as to preserve bacteria)
Every 6-8 Weeks:
  • Replace carbon cartridge

Overall the tests every week come back in ranges I am quite happy with however once again weekly cleaning occasionally feels like it is too much. If anyone has any advice or knows on average how much to clean a tank of this size I would greatly appreciate it thanks!
 

Momgoose56

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frostmystique said:
Hey guys,
I’ve currently got one Betta fish in a 9L (approx. 2.38 gallon) tank and I’m wondering how often I should be cleaning it. I’ve heard things ranging from every 4 days, to every fortnight, so I just thought I would come on here and get everyone’s opinion!
The tank has been fully cycled for around 8 months, and my Betta has been in there for 7. Currently I’ve been cleaning it every week however sometimes this seems like too frequent, as I feel like I’m removing some of the beneficial bacteria too frequently.
This is my current routine:

Every week:
Fortnightly:
  • Remove all decorations and scrub under hot water. I don’t do this every week because most are silk and I feel as though if I do this every week along with everything else I am removing too much of the beneficial bacteria from the tank
Monthly:
  • Rinse out the filter and sponges
  • Very lightly run water through carbon filter, however I don’t do this a lot (so as to preserve bacteria)
Every 6-8 Weeks:
  • Replace carbon cartridge

Overall the tests every week come back in ranges I am quite happy with however once again weekly cleaning occasionally feels like it is too much. If anyone has any advice or knows on average how much to clean a tank of this size I would greatly appreciate it thanks!
In my cycled tanks
Once a week:
Change water (25-50%) a week
lightly vacuum sand/gravel.
Rinse filter media in HOBs
Check filter intake and outflow to make sure waterflow is good.
Clean dog nose prints off glass.
Once a month:
Clean walls of tank with magnetic cleaner, deeper sand/gravel vac in spots
TrI'm and remove dead plant parts.
Same as weekly
Every 6 months
Clean HOB intake/outflow tubes with brush.
Drain canisters and rinse out canister filter floss in treated water
Same as weekly.
If you cycle your tank, maintenance is minimal. You are over cleaning your tank now. Read this:
https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
And this:

And let us know if you need help cycling your tank!
 

Demeter

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Weekly 50% is the norm here and works well for my 3.4gal betta tank. The only thing I do is gently gravel vac the sand, trI'm plants rinse the filter media in old tank water (monthly or so). In my 1.5gal I usually do twice weekly ~75%, same steps.

Doing the hot water method is pointless, you should never have to do this unless the decor is covered in nasty stuff. If you’ve got a lot of algae then try reducing the light and adding a nerite snail. I only do it with decor that gets passed around in quarantine and hospital tanks. Otherwise the snails and shrimp keep my tanks mostly clear of algae.
 
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frostmystique

frostmystique

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Momgoose56 said:
In my cycled tanks
Once a week:
Change water (25-50%) a week
lightly vacuum sand/gravel.
Rinse filter media in HOBs
Check filter intake and outflow to make sure waterflow is good.
Clean dog nose prints off glass.
Once a month:
Clean walls of tank with magnetic cleaner, deeper sand/gravel vac in spots
TrI'm and remove dead plant parts.
Same as weekly
Every 6 months
Clean HOB intake/outflow tubes with brush.
Drain canisters and rinse out canister filter floss in treated water
Same as weekly.
If you cycle your tank, maintenance is minimal. You are over cleaning your tank now. Read this:
https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm
And this:

And let us know if you need help cycling your tank!
HI there and thanks for your response! As I mentioned in my original post, my tank is already cycled and has been for 8 months. I also mentioned that I measure weekly ammonia, nitrites and nitrates and the parameters are all in the correct ranges, so I would say by now I believe I have a fairly good understanding of the nitrogen cycle.
Forgive me if I am wrong but your routine for your cycled tanks looks fairly similar to the one I outlined above. The plants I use are not live plants, they are silk, so I don’t need to trI'm any plants. Otherwise I’m a bit confused over which parts you are suggesting I do? For example, why do you think I’m over cleaning when our methods seem so similar?

Thanks

Demeter said:
Weekly 50% is the norm here and works well for my 3.4gal betta tank. The only thing I do is gently gravel vac the sand, trI'm plants rinse the filter media in old tank water (monthly or so). In my 1.5gal I usually do twice weekly ~75%, same steps.

Doing the hot water method is pointless, you should never have to do this unless the decor is covered in nasty stuff. If you’ve got a lot of algae then try reducing the light and adding a nerite snail. I only do it with decor that gets passed around in quarantine and hospital tanks. Otherwise the snails and shrimp keep my tanks mostly clear of algae.
HI there! Your advice seems to correlate with what most people suggest. Unfortunately the tank I have doesn’t seem large enough for an additional snail, as it’s only 2.38 gallons, so I’m not sure this is a viable option. With the light, the tank does not have direct sunlight for majority of the day, so I’m assuming that this is not causing any additional algae. The main reason I have been doing the hot water rinse of decorations is because they are silk, and I have found in the past that not cleaning them leads to a general build up of waste around the edges due to the nature of the material, however if this is pointless I’d be curious to know what to do instead!
The main thing I am wondering is whether or not what I am doing weekly is too much. For example, with gravel siphoning, I have been recommended to continue siphoning/vacuuming the gravel until one third of the water has been removed (so rather than manually taking out a third of water on top of vacuuming, you are simply just vacuuming enough to take out a third instead). Thanks again in advance!
 

Momgoose56

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frostmystique said:
HI there! Your advice seems to correlate with what most people suggest. Unfortunately the tank I have doesn’t seem large enough for an additional snail, as it’s only 2.38 gallons, so I’m not sure this is a viable option. With the light, the tank does not have direct sunlight for majority of the day, so I’m assuming that this is not causing any additional algae. The main reason I have been doing the hot water rinse of decorations is because they are silk, and I have found in the past that not cleaning them leads to a general build up of waste around the edges due to the nature of the material, however if this is pointless I’d be curious to know what to do instead!
The main thing I am wondering is whether or not what I am doing weekly is too much. For example, with gravel siphoning, I have been recommended to continue siphoning/vacuuming the gravel until one third of the water has been removed (so rather than manually taking out a third of water on top of vacuuming, you are simply just vacuuming enough to take out a third instead). Thanks again in advance!
What ARE the pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels you are getting in that tank? I don't believe a tank that small, could maintain an adequate bacterial colony with the amount of cleaning you're doing. Rinsing stuff in chlorinated water, especially hot water will instantly kill nitrifying bacteria on surfaces of decorations and plants.

frostmystique said:
HI there and thanks for your response! As I mentioned in my original post, my tank is already cycled and has been for 8 months. I also mentioned that I measure weekly ammonia, nitrites and nitrates and the parameters are all in the correct ranges, so I would say by now I believe I have a fairly good understanding of the nitrogen cycle.
Forgive me if I am wrong but your routine for your cycled tanks looks fairly similar to the one I outlined above. The plants I use are not live plants, they are silk, so I don’t need to trI'm any plants. Otherwise I’m a bit confused over which parts you are suggesting I do? For example, why do you think I’m over cleaning when our methods seem so similar?

Thanks
No, it's vastly different. I never scrub anything (I control algae with lighting and clean water), never rinse any substrate or decorations, and only put my hands in tank water once a month. In a cycled tank you shouldn't NEED to be scrubbing anything except algae off walls. And scrubbing silk plants will destroy them faster than just using a little peroxide to kill the algae once in awhile.
 
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Momgoose56 said:
What ARE the pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels you are getting in that tank? I don't believe a tank that small, could maintain an adequate bacterial colony with the amount of cleaning you're doing. Rinsing stuff in chlorinated water, especially hot water will instantly kill nitrifying bacteria on surfaces of decorations and plants.
HI there! pH in the tank is around 7.4. Ammonia and nitrite levels are always at 0. Nitrates vary between 20-40 although I’m unsure if that’s just because I find it hard to differentiate between the two colours on the chart. I use the API master test kit.
To be clear, I don’t rinse everything in the tank under the hot water, ONLY silk plants (x2) once a fortnight. If there is any cleaning method you would suggest which may be better for this kind of tank then please let me know! Thanks
 

Demeter

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When I do water changes in most my tanks I am gravel vacuuming until enough water is removed or until I feel I’ve removed enough gunk. I doubt cleaning the plants will effect the cycle though, most the bacteria is living in the filter and gravel, not the plants.

For the silk plants I’d just swish them around in the old tank water, which is what I do for all my artificial plants if/when I move them.

Also, a snail has a rather small bioload unless it’s a mystery snail. I have several snails in even my 1.5gal and nothing much changes in terms of levels. Might be the live plants keeping things in check though.

I don’t think you are doing too much, the only thing I would do is never or very rarely replace the media. I’ve since stopped using carbon because it needs to be replaced as it stops working. Now I just use filter floss as my main media, only replacing about 1/3 at a time every several months.
 

Momgoose56

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Demeter said:
When I do water changes in most my tanks I am gravel vacuuming until enough water is removed or until I feel I’ve removed enough gunk. I doubt cleaning the plants will effect the cycle though, most the bacteria is living in the filter and gravel, not the plants.

For the silk plants I’d just swish them around in the old tank water, which is what I do for all my artificial plants if/when I move them.

Also, a snail had a rather small bioload unless it’s a mystery snail. I have several snails in even my 1.5gal and nothing much changes in terms of levels. Might be the live plants keeping things in check though.

I don’t think you are doing too much, the only thing I would do is never or very rarely replace the media. I’ve since stopped using carbon because it needs to be replaced as it stops working. Now I just use filter floss as my main media, only replacing about 1/3 at a time every several months.
Agree with the snail thing. Nerites have a very tiny bioload compared to other snails and will eat green algae as well as brown. The only drawback is that female nerites lay white, hard eggs everywhere that are harder to remove than green algae. So, if you can buy a handful of Nerites figure out if one is a male, keep that one and return or rehome the rest, you won't ever have to clean off algae.
Hint: adult male nerites are smaller than adult females.
 

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