5 Gallon Tank Lots of compound problems!

pyradim

Hello, this is going to be a very long post and I am having a lot of problems (I would welcome advice about any of them, not just algae) but I think posting here makes the most sense, for reasons that will be clear later. Sorry for SUCH a long post, but I really do have a complex situation which I need help with, and I don’t know how to talk about one problem without mentioning all of the others.



I am a kid with very limited money, transportation, and permission to properly take care of my pets. I was not aware of how much work my two African clawed frogs would be at the time of getting them, as I was told that I would be receiving the full setup already finished: all I would have to do was maintain it. What I actually received was horrible- a 2 or maybe 3 gallon tank with NOTHING in it but sand, a heater, and a HOB filter that very quickly stopped working (and only worked when the water level was higher than it should be for that species of frog). And they had been living like that for 14 years at the time I got them.



Obviously, I was extremely unprepared. My mom (dad isn’t really in the picture and there are no other parental-esc figures who could help me here) is a typical Scary Russian Mother and there are certain topics that just set her off. Unfortunately, our pets are one of those, so I have to be very careful and strategic with what I ask her for.



Because of this problem with communication, and being unable to do stuff myself because of my age, I have achieved very little in the nearly 3 years I’ve had them. Here’s all of the progress I’ve made so far:
+ Moved them to a bigger (5 gallon) tank that we already had. This tank is “bigger” than what you might picture for 5 gallons (it’s a rather shallow and wide tank so they at least have some room), but obviously it’s still 5 gallons, which is nowhere near enough water. The tank COULD hold 10 gallons of water, but as far as I’m aware it’s very very bad to make the water level higher than the height they can stand (since they breathe air) so unless I get some pretty good proof that that’s not the case, I’m not going to add more water
+ Got them a few hiding spaces (a mug big enough for both of them to sit in, a plastic bridge which they like to sit on as well as hide under, and a plastic cave)
+ Got a few different things to stir up their water: a sponge filter, an air stone, and an adjustable air pump (though the adjustable knob has stopped working! Just my luck), plus lots of extra airline tumbling and check valves. BUT these are not currently set up in the tank and I will explain why soon
+ Got a plant (water sprite), which is currently doing very well! I think it’s actually three separate plants, and it manages to take up most of the tank. This plant has made a very obvious difference to the algae level but I think I’ve reached the maximum amount of plant I can have that still leaves the frogs enough space


So: I’m sure this leaves a lot of questions. I’ll try my best to answer all of them immediately



Why can’t you get a bigger tank?
Whenever I bring up the idea of getting a bigger tank, my mom freaks out. She’s angry/worried about several things:
+ She doesn’t want to buy a bigger tank because she refuses to spend lots of money on our pets. We have 5 cats so I mean... this is kind of understandable, but I don’t think it is at all fair on the frogs. We took them, we have to take care of them as best we can
+ She’s worried we would have nowhere to put them (or that wherever we’d put them, the weight of the water would break the surface OR the floor). Our house is old so, again, this is a reasonable concern. But if that was the case wouldnt things like a boiling pot of pasta on the stove break the floor????? Or jumping too hard?? I even DO have a place to put them- I have two desks and I use neither of them. But she won’t hear that for some reason.

My brother (who is an adult) has considered helping me buy a tank without telling my mom, but I’m very very worried about this plan. I don’t fear for my physical safety or anything, but my mom has (in the far past) broken doors and windows, as well as throw out a large amount of my brothers’ things when she was very angry. But considering the lifespan of these frogs, it might be worth it so they don’t suffer for another decade. We’ll see. I think I just have to wait for her to be in a good mood and then I’ll be able to safely get a properly sized tank. (Speaking of- what’s the best place to get a shallow and wide tank with a lid? Again since you can’t have the water level be higher than they can stand, there’s no point in having a tall tank. I’ve never bought fish tanks before so I’m not sure where to get unconventionally shaped ones like what I need)

^^ This problem is one of two MAJOR reasons why my algae problem is so bad, but as you can see there isn’t too much I can do about it


Why on earth do you have no water flow in your tank?????????
I know how bad that is. I just don’t know if fixing it is worth the discomfort it causes the frogs. Let me explain:
Since there is so little water in the tank, I’m really really struggling to find an air pump which doesn’t create a complete vortex. As stated earlier, I have both an air stone and a sponge filter. Both would be connected to the same air pump (the adjustable one I mentioned), turned as far down as I could possibly turn it. That air pump is too powerful for my tiny 5 gallon setup- and it is very very plain to see how it affects the frogs after just a day or so. They stop responding to stimuli (I can poke them with the vacuum pump and they don’t care), and don’t really eat as much as they should. They stop swimming around their tank as well. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing them too much, but to me that seems very bad.


So this is the big question: is water movement important enough that I should turn the pump on, despite how the frogs behave when I do?

And some notes:
1. The sponge filter stirs the water less intensely than the air stone, but the problem is that my water level has to remain so low that the smallest sponge filter I could buy still sticks out of the water! I think this makes it much less effective, since the bubbles that come out of the top don’t affect the water..... since they’re not even in the water. So while this doesn’t make a vortex, it also affects the frogs’ behavior in the same way as the air stone while not moving the water quite enough. What’s better: not enough movement or too much movement, if they both have the same effects on my frogs?
2. I’ve run out of good grace with my mom to buy much else. I experimented too much (and honestly, didn’t research what I was buying enough) and wasted quite a bit of money. I might be able to buy one or two things you suggest, but it would be much much preferred to figure out what to do with my current stuff than buy more products.


How often do you change your water and how much?
I change it every other day, or sometimes every two days. I only had enough time to do this recently (around the same time I got the plant), and it’s obviously had a HUGE effect on the amount of algae in my tank.
But I also replace something like 90% of the water each time, which I am aware is much more than the usual fish keeper would do. This is to compensate for the lack of filter- changing 20-40% of the water as often as possible wouldn’t even make a difference (the algae just comes back too fast).
I’ve noticed no impact on my frogs health so far, and it’s been at least 3 months, so I think I’m safe, but I’d LOVE to hear your opinion on this. I always want to make sure I’m doing this best I can, and this is something I’m very worried about.


What kind of light do you provide the tank?
I have no light I can suspend above the tank, and again my mom wants nothing to do with buying things for the frogs- she insists it’s a waste of time and money.
Because of this, their tank is right up against the window. Of course, the algae loves this. My room gets a lot of light, and my frogs have survived for 3 years like this with no visible adverse effects so I think it’s sufficient for them. Please please let me know if this is an obvious, huge problem, because as far as I know this is not a big worry.


What kind of algae is it?
I believe I only have green water algae and brown algae.
The brown algae- I think- is a new problem. Or at least it used to be much less brown/reddish than it currently is. Whatever previous algae I had looked pretty much the same except it was way more green and clumped together less. The only cause I can think of is the plant or the more frequent water changes, but I’m not sure why either of those would cause this to happen. In any case, the wispy-er green algae I once had has been replaced by this more coarse looking brown algae. The green water algae is an old problem and hasn’t changed.
This confuses me because based on what I’ve read the cause of brown algae is insufficient lighting and the cause of green water algae is too much light. Not too sure what to do about either of these species of algae besides my regular water changes, or somehow being able to get a bigger tank or introduce movement to the water, but we’ve already discussed the difficulties with those ideas.


Does your tank still have sand?
Yes. Considering that they have lived with a sand substrate for ~16 years, I think they’re okay with that. And because the amount of water is so small I’m very afraid of such a big change like switching to large mancala beads unless I get a new tank altogether. The water sprite is floating, by the way, so it wouldn’t kill my plants or anything like that to switch.


Conclusion
Thank you so much for reading this far. The well-being of these frogs has been a huge weight on my back for 3 years now and I still don’t know what to do. Any advice is welcome, these are my first aquatic pets and I’m sure there is a LOT I don’t know.
My main questions are:
Should I introduce some movement in the water even if the frogs react very poorly? (Is their reaction even that bad as far as aquatic animals go?)
What is the cause of the two species of algae?
Is there any way I can use my current resources better?
Would changing less of the water at once be better than what I’m currently doing?

Have a wonderful day, and thank you for any input <3
I’ll try to answer comments as fast as possible
 

Ghelfaire

Here's a couple of cheaper solutions (I come from a dutch family we do cheap).

Consider a clear plastic tub. It'll be bigger than what you have and cheaper than an aquarium. Because it won't be 100% clear it might get less algae with less lighting going in it. Frogs may jump so don't fill it to the top.
An airstone and air/hose/pump combo or a sponge filter if you cant find a hob filter to fit the tub. It'll provide moving water without being too strong. If you're concerned about the vibration, keep the pump part on the floor or close to the floor with the tub on the desks.
It might be a bit more expensive than a HOB but it's guaranteed to fit any size aquarium/tub and so far mine have outlasted any hob that I've had.
 
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DrogJustDrog

I second the plastic tub idea. That and getting two buckets. One to gather water, and another to pour water into to preform a water change if you cannot get a proper siphon.
 
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pyradim

Here's a couple of cheaper solutions (I come from a dutch family we do cheap).

Consider a clear plastic tub. It'll be bigger than what you have and cheaper than an aquarium. Because it won't be 100% clear it might get less algae with less lighting going in it. Frogs may jump so don't fill it to the top.
An airstone and air/hose/pump combo or a sponge filter if you cant find a hob filter to fit the tub. It'll provide moving water without being too strong. If you're concerned about the vibration, keep the pump part on the floor or close to the floor with the tub on the desks.
It might be a bit more expensive than a HOB but it's guaranteed to fit any size aquarium/tub and so far mine have outlasted any hob that I've had.

This seems like a great idea, thank you!
 
Upvote 0

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