Serious revamp needed! How best to start?

salamoonder

Hello everyone,

Recently due to circumstances beyond my control, I was couchsurfing for a month in slight crisis. Fortunately I am out of that situation and have my fishtank back and sort of set up in my new place.

The problem: it is an absolute mess.

I have a 3.5 gallon Top Fin Enchant aquarium. Stock is one betta, Lady MacBetta, who I rescued from my dad since he was keeping her in a dirty bucket when he had to bring her home from his classroom aquarium due to covid. Now, however, I honestly don't feel like I'm doing much better than he was. It's infested with snails, water level is low, it's extremely dirty, and I dread to even think about what the water parameters are. I'm not even sure where to start. Obviously I want to clean it up, but I don't want to do anything to shock her system and unfortunately don't have a lot of money/resources at my disposal at the time (this will change when I get paid and have my tax return though, so feel free to suggest stuff I'd need to buy--I have a few things in mind).

The tank came with a built in filter, but it probably needs to be replaced. At the very least the filter media needs replacement. I had a heater for her but it looks like it broke in the move. I'm not too concerned about that though--I live on the third floor and it's summer, things are a decent temperature, and I have a space heater that does very well to heat the space for when it gets colder. I also have aquarium salt (for freshwater) and conditioner for her water as well as a gravel filter (it's sand, but at this point I just want the dirt out) and a magnetic algae cleaner. I was feeding her aqueon, but I'm sure there's probably better options out there.

The plants surprisingly seem to have survived. I honestly couldn't tell you what species they are, though.

Anyway, the TL;DR is that her tank is super dirty and I obviously want to fix it up but am not sure where to start to make things easiest for her. What's a good jumping off point?

(Genuinely ashamed to attach the photo, please don't be too harsh :( Understand I was literally in fear for my life and wellbeing for quite a while)

IMG_20220410_195052974.jpeg
 

StarGirl

Hello! The thing I would do first is start with very small water changes. Maybe 10% a day. She is used to the bad water so it will shock her to do anything too drastic. Do not change the media in the filter, just swish it in some old tank water. SLOWLY start to clean things. Start with that for a week or so and come back. :) Do you have Prime water conditioner on hand? It will help with any ammonia issues.
 
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salamoonder

Hello! The thing I would do first is start with very small water changes. Maybe 10% a day. She is used to the bad water so it will shock her to do anything too drastic. Do not change the media in the filter, just swish it in some old tank water. SLOWLY start to clean things. Start with that for a week or so and come back. :) Do you have Prime water conditioner on hand? It will help with any ammonia issues.
Thank you so much, I'll definitely start with that! I don't have prime conditioner, but I can get some when I get paid for sure. Should I use the conditioner I have for now? It's topfin.
 
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StarGirl

Yes its is fine. You have to use dechlor. The Prime will just help a little more than regular dechlor.
 
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sunflower430

Seen way worse... don't beat yourself up too much. I'm not an expert, but if she's eating and seeming healthy, I'd just start with some small daily water changes to start. Maybe 10%. After a few days to a week of that, can start cleaning up a bit more. Would hold off on replacing the filter media so you don't crash your cycle. With the snails, you can start plucking them out when you see them. As you get the tank cleaned up and you minimize their food source (waste) the population should even out. The tank didn't get like that overnight, so you also don't want to fix it overnight to avoid shocking your fish. Good luck!
 
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Fishyfishyfishman

I am very sorry that you weren’t doing well and I hope you stay better. Don’t worry about anyone being harsh, There are much worse things than this, the pic doesn’t look that bad. I would be a little concerned about parameters.

StarGirl beat me to it. Dang it. Oh well her advice is probably better than mine anyway. I would read about the nitrogen cycle (very important)

I would also increase the amount of water change very gradually. You seem to have good intuition of what is wrong I think.

For food I would look for something high in protein and with no filler such as corn or some others (I forget what they are)

Maybe add better filter media (I am assume it is a carbon filter) Such As filter sponge cut to size https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai...=2ahUKEwiHhPne2or3AhVMrmoFHcMnDW4Q0Qx6BAgCEAE

Diy Media Guide For Top Fin Silenstream, Aquaclear And Other Hob Filters | Aquarium Filter Forum | 385506 useful thread about filter media, apply as best you can To your filter. Don’t remove the current media until the new media (if added) has been in there for a while.
 
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sunflower430

Hello! The thing I would do first is start with very small water changes. Maybe 10% a day. She is used to the bad water so it will shock her to do anything too drastic. Do not change the media in the filter, just swish it in some old tank water. SLOWLY start to clean things. Start with that for a week or so and come back. :) Do you have Prime water conditioner on hand? It will help with any ammonia issues.
Ah, could have waited another minute and just said "ditto"!
 
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salamoonder

Yes its is fine. You have to use dechlor. The Prime will just help a little more than regular dechlor.
Ohh okay gotcha. I was wondering what the difference was. Thanks!
Seen way worse... don't beat yourself up too much. I'm not an expert, but if she's eating and seeming healthy, I'd just start with some small daily water changes to start. Maybe 10%. After a few days to a week of that, can start cleaning up a bit more. Would hold off on replacing the filter media so you don't crash your cycle. With the snails, you can start plucking them out when you see them. As you get the tank cleaned up and you minimize their food source (waste) the population should even out. The tank didn't get like that overnight, so you also don't want to fix it overnight to avoid shocking your fish. Good luck!
Thank you so much :) The snails are at least easy to remove. I'll hold off on the filter media for sure as well.
I am very sorry that you weren’t doing well and I hope you stay better. Don’t worry about anyone being harsh, There are much worse things than this, the pic doesn’t look that bad. I would be a little concerned about parameters.

StarGirl beat me to it. Dang it. Oh well her advice is probably better than mine anyway. I would read about the nitrogen cycle (very important)

I would also increase the amount of water change very gradually. You seem to have good intuition of what is wrong I think.

For food I would look for something high in protein and with no filler such as corn or some others (I forget what they are)

Maybe add better filter media (I am assume it is a carbon filter) Such As filter sponge cut to size https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai...=2ahUKEwiHhPne2or3AhVMrmoFHcMnDW4Q0Qx6BAgCEAE

Diy Media Guide For Top Fin Silenstream, Aquaclear And Other Hob Filters | Aquarium Filter Forum | 385506 useful thread about filter media, apply as best you can To your filter. Don’t remove the current media until the new media (if added) has been in there for a while.
Oh thank you, these are great! Will definitely keep those in mind when I get to that point. I do know about the nitrogen cycle, I dread to think what mine is like right now...but hopefully it'll improve quickly as I fix things up :)
 
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Seasoldier

Hi, what equipment do you have to use? Have you got a test kit & a gravel vac? As others have already said water changes to clean up the tank & remove / dilute any ammonia / nitrites that may be in there, if you have a gravel vac gently vac the substrate to get the rubbish up but try not to stir it up too much into the water column, then you'll need a way of testing the water to check parameters. Don't stress take it slow & you'll get it all under control & we're always here to help.
 
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salamoonder

Hi, what equipment do you have to use? Have you got a test kit & a gravel vac? As others have already said water changes to clean up the tank & remove / dilute any ammonia / nitrites that may be in there, if you have a gravel vac gently vac the substrate to get the rubbish up but try not to stir it up too much into the water column, then you'll need a way of testing the water to check parameters. Don't stress take it slow & you'll get it all under control & we're always here to help.
I do have a gravel vac! Don't have a test kit at the moment but I can get one when i get paid ^.^
 
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salamoonder

First water change down and Lady MacBetta is way more active! I was a little worried that it was because the water level was finally high enough for me to turn on the filter and it was too strong and I was just seeing her get pushed around, but she's swimming right under and around it with no problem :) The tank still looks awful, but much better than it did yesterday. Lady MacBetta is still eating fine and is even taking out some of the snails which is awesome.
 
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Fishyfishyfishman

That is great! I hope all goes well.
 
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salamoonder

All continues to go well! I accidentally changed out a bit more than I probably should've today, but I've been watching her closely and she seems pretty happy and active. There was SO much dirt under the cave that I didn't notice before : | I can't wait till I can get it all cleaned out.
 
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LittleYeti

Hello everyone,

Recently due to circumstances beyond my control, I was couchsurfing for a month in slight crisis. Fortunately I am out of that situation and have my fishtank back and sort of set up in my new place.

The problem: it is an absolute mess.

I have a 3.5 gallon Top Fin Enchant aquarium. Stock is one betta, Lady MacBetta, who I rescued from my dad since he was keeping her in a dirty bucket when he had to bring her home from his classroom aquarium due to covid. Now, however, I honestly don't feel like I'm doing much better than he was. It's infested with snails, water level is low, it's extremely dirty, and I dread to even think about what the water parameters are. I'm not even sure where to start. Obviously I want to clean it up, but I don't want to do anything to shock her system and unfortunately don't have a lot of money/resources at my disposal at the time (this will change when I get paid and have my tax return though, so feel free to suggest stuff I'd need to buy--I have a few things in mind).

The tank came with a built in filter, but it probably needs to be replaced. At the very least the filter media needs replacement. I had a heater for her but it looks like it broke in the move. I'm not too concerned about that though--I live on the third floor and it's summer, things are a decent temperature, and I have a space heater that does very well to heat the space for when it gets colder. I also have aquarium salt (for freshwater) and conditioner for her water as well as a gravel filter (it's sand, but at this point I just want the dirt out) and a magnetic algae cleaner. I was feeding her aqueon, but I'm sure there's probably better options out there.

The plants surprisingly seem to have survived. I honestly couldn't tell you what species they are, though.

Anyway, the TL;DR is that her tank is super dirty and I obviously want to fix it up but am not sure where to start to make things easiest for her. What's a good jumping off point?

(Genuinely ashamed to attach the photo, please don't be too harsh :( Understand I was literally in fear for my life and wellbeing for quite a while)

IMG_20220410_195052974.jpeg
I havent read the other comments yet, so maybe this has been said, I apologize for any repeats. Besides the obvious, the first thing is to get some healthy water. Blah blah blah, water changes, water conditioners, filter--i just KNOW everyone has already given you fabulous advice. So I am going to give you some emergency tips I have acquired that might help if you are truly in a tight spot...

You want to pick up a small heater when you can. If you must depend on sunlight, wrap a towel around the tank at night to insulate some heat. You dont want to fluxuate too much and stress out your fish, so this should be used in an emergency only.

I would totally recommend requesting any kind of aquarium supplies and food on Craigslist free and sites like Freecycle, which is super easy to use. Id bet a local fish friend would be more than happy to hook it up. I have done it before. I even ran out to get cute hamster stuff for a little girl to make sure she got a large setup, haha.

Definitely do a water change when you can. If you don't have a siphon to clean the gravel and stuff, use a turkey baster. Id bet you can find one at Goodwill, or ask people on the sites I mentioned.

Any kind of immunity booster would be a good idea for your fish, if possible. Lots of talking nice to them and telling them how beautiful and healthy they are going to feel soon. Ive read that fish specifically enjoy listening to the music of Bach, so maybe put a Playlist from YouTube or something on when you go to work :)

Best of luck to you and your friend!
 
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salamoonder

I havent read the other comments yet, so maybe this has been said, I apologize for any repeats. Besides the obvious, the first thing is to get some healthy water. Blah blah blah, water changes, water conditioners, filter--i just KNOW everyone has already given you fabulous advice. So I am going to give you some emergency tips I have acquired that might help if you are truly in a tight spot...

You want to pick up a small heater when you can. If you must depend on sunlight, wrap a towel around the tank at night to insulate some heat. You dont want to fluxuate too much and stress out your fish, so this should be used in an emergency only.

I would totally recommend requesting any kind of aquarium supplies and food on Craigslist free and sites like Freecycle, which is super easy to use. Id bet a local fish friend would be more than happy to hook it up. I have done it before. I even ran out to get cute hamster stuff for a little girl to make sure she got a large setup, haha.

Definitely do a water change when you can. If you don't have a siphon to clean the gravel and stuff, use a turkey baster. Id bet you can find one at Goodwill, or ask people on the sites I mentioned.

Any kind of immunity booster would be a good idea for your fish, if possible. Lots of talking nice to them and telling them how beautiful and healthy they are going to feel soon. Ive read that fish specifically enjoy listening to the music of Bach, so maybe put a Playlist from YouTube or something on when you go to work :)

Best of luck to you and your friend!
Bach, you say? I'll have to switch from Mozart...

Lady Macbetta is doing quite well! The tank is not entirely up to my standards of cleanliness yet, but it looks much better and she's fully of energy and eating perfectly :) Thank you to everyone for your help! I'll pick up a heater soon, and continue with the small daily changes.
 
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Fishyfishyfishman

That’s great news!

Pro tip from a biased plant lover: add more plants;). .
 
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Kellye8498

Honestly, I would just start with small water changes and I would add a cheap sponge filter for more bacteria to live and thrive on. That filter will help when you need to change the filter that came with it as well. When you can get a new filter cartridge I would cut a small slit in one side and, after swishing the old filter in old tank water, I would rip the old filter floss off and shove it into that slit to keep the bacteria alive on the new filter. Then you won’t lose your cycle and stress her further. It doesn’t look as bad as I feared while reading your description. Don’t beat yourself up! You’re doing your best and that’s perfectly ok!! ❤️
 
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