Sterilizing Betta Tank

Asinity

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I know this probably isn't the best spot for it (Sorry Rose) but I've still got a few more concerns with regards to my 5.5 gallon being sterilized now that Atlantis has passed on.

I have 3 plastic plants and 6 pounds of gravel. I know to boil the gravel (How long?) , but what to do with the plastic plants?

I emailed Hagen regarding whether or not to reuse the Bio-Max and they said to toss it, however they also mentioned that bleach isn't a recommended way of going about sterilizing, they did say that a vinegar solution would work. Any truth to that? Will vinegar or bleach have a negative effect on the sealant in the tank?

How exactly do I sterilize my filter and heater, the heater is submersible if that matters any.

Thanks.
-Mark
 

Phloxface

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I wouldn't use bleach on any tank with sealant. It won't rinse off. Probably really hot water and a good scrub is all you need. Dropsy is not that contagious.
 

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Bleach has always worked fine for me (tanks with and without sealant). I'm not sure I'd trust vinegar to be strong enough. As long as you give the tank many long soaks in heavily dechlored water (and also, I've heard rock salt helps draw out the bleach), the bleach should all be detoxified. I personally would chuck the gravel, as well as any silk plants, real plants, rocks or driftwood (real or plastic), and filter media. Plastic plants can be cleaned ok.

If you do decide to bleach:
Chuck the above mentioned items as they cannot be bleached
Fill the tank with a ratio of 20 parts water to 1 part bleach
Put in the heater--make sure to put it as low as it was when the tank was set up, so the part of the cord that was in contact wiht the water previously gets bleached
Put the filter in/on the tank (w/out the media), and turn it on so that the bleach cycles throught he filter
Place your plastic plants and anything else you are bleaching in the tank.
Let sit overnight
Drain and fill with water that has Tons of dechlor in it, maybe rock salt too, and let sit overnight
Drain again; rinse rinse rinse rinse rinse
Repeat the last 2 steps several more times, until you can absolutely not smell any trace of bleach
Then do it again a few more times just to make sure
Re-set up tank and get a new fishie
 
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Asinity

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So plastic plants can be bleached okay? And I take it anything else I should likely sterilize, a net for example, would just drop in the water? Or should nets be tossed too?
 

0morrokh

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Yes plastic plants can be bleached, I have done it several times and it worked fine. Just make sure to smell them to make sure there are no traces of bleach left.

I have also bleached nets, but then I've heard somewhere that this is not recommended. Considering nets only cost like 2 bucks apiece, you may just want to replace them to be safe.
 

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I have always cleaned my gravel and plastic plants, (in 5 gallon aquariums) as well as the inside of the aquarium with white vinegar. Just soak it full strength for a while and swish the gravel around. A strainer works great for the gravel since the debris and particles fall through the holes.
 

0morrokh

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Considering Atlantis died of dropsy, I personally would use the strongest thing possible to disenfect the tank (=bleach)...
 

Phloxface

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Dropsy is not an extremely contagious disease.  When it happens in a community tank simply removing the affected fish is enough. Rarely do all the fish in the tank get it unless the tank is very dirty, the fish weak and the conditions not improved. The danger of using bleach on a tank with rubber sealant is far worse IMO. I accidently bleached my heater before I knew better and had to throw it out because I couldn't get the bleach smell out of the rubber parts. Bleach is fine if there is no sealant, otherwise I wouldn't risk it. I did a lot of research on it when I had to bleach my hospital tank and people on other forums lost fish mysteriously a few weeks after bleaching tanks that had sealant. After testing they discovered high chlorine levels even though they were using conditioner.
It's up to you what you want to do, but I would use very hot water and give the tank a good scrub. Throw out the gravel and buy new gravel.
If you do decide to risk bleaching, buy some kind of test for chlorine and test the tank about a week after filling with water to make sure the absorbed bleach in the sealant isn't leaking into the water before you put fish in there.
 
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Asinity

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I guess I should have used vinegar then... I hope I can get all that out of there then.
 

0morrokh

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Well, I have bleached several tanks with sealants and no bad effects. I am guessing the people who lost fish after bleaching did not rinse the tank well enough.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but you can use rock salt to actually draw out the bleach from surfaces. That coupled with tons and tons of dechlor and lots of rinsing should do the trick.
 
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Asinity

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Is it normal for calcium to form on things after the bleach has been in the tank? Is it even calcium, all I know is it is white and hard as sin to get off. Gives me an appreciation for all the scrubbing mom has done in the laundry.
 
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Asinity

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Is it normal for plastic plants to retain the bleach smell longer than the tank?

I really can't smell it in the tank anymore, nor in the filter or on the heater.

The amount of dechlor I've used... I'm surprised it still smells a little bit, really powerful stuff.
 

0morrokh

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Keep on soaking with tons of dechlor as long as you can smell anything.
It's possible that the plastic may soak up the bleach a bit more than harder surfaces. However you should be able to get it all out...I have used plastic plants in tanks after bleaching (and rinsing) them and no problems.
 
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Asinity

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I can't smell anything in the tank anymore, so I should be set to go for that. As for gravel, it was mentioned that boiling gravel will disinfect it, I bought a cheap pot today but need to know how long I should let it boil for. Also, would it help to have a little vinegar in there as well? Or is just straight up boiling water good enough?
 

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Rinse, rinse, rinse first to get all the poo out.

Put in pot with a lot of water and from the time it starts to boil, boil for 3 hours. Don't time from the beginning, time starts when it begins to boil. I would not add vinegar.

Cover the pot and remove from the heat and allow the stuff to cool IN THE WATER overnight or the gravel can cool too fast and turn to dust.

Drain the water off good and rinse, rinse, rinse again.

Do a final rinse with dechlored water.

Ready.

Rose
 
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Asinity

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Well that woulda been great to know yesterday...

I did rinse like crazy beforehand, unfortunately I only had time to boil for about a half hour. I did let it cool slowly afterwards, and I did rinse it a lot before putting it back in the tank. I've had it set up now for almost 24 hours now.

Is it really necessary to boil it for that length of time? I usually don't have that kind of time to wait around that long, and I really don't want to have to do this all over again
 

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I would assume boiling it (after you get a good, hard, boil) for 5 minutes would be good enough. As for the plants, if they still have a bleach smell to them let them soak in water for as long as you need to, rinsing them off and changing the water occasionally.
 
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Asinity

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Yeah the bleach smell is gone from the plants, they sat in dechlorinated water for a couple days - the tank and the rest of the equipment was smelling bleach free after 3 days, the plants took about 5.

I'm very relieved that it's done, I've been looking at the betta's again.
 
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Asinity

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I'm wondering if I can start cycling or if I should re-rinse and reboil the gravel. Any ideas?
 

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