Water Changes - Questions

Discussion in 'Water Changes' started by Georgie Girl, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. Georgie Girl

    Georgie GirlValued MemberMember

    I could use some advice about water changes in Fishy Boris's (a betta) five-gallon planted tank.

    1. A water change obviously stirs up stuff that takes a bit to settle, and then it takes the water from a couple to several hours to get completely clear again. Normal? Am I doing something wrong?

    2. I take Fishy Boris out of the tank for water changes. The reason is that it's so small in there, and it's hard enough to use the vac without trying to cause him stress. Should I take him out? And when is it safe to put him back? (See question one re clearing.)

    3. The gravel vac. What a pain in the neck! It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't so hard to start. I'm not afraid of siphoning, but I'm clumsy and spillage threatens. There's not enough room in there to submerge the entire hose until it's all full. I manage, but jeez. Got any tips for starting it? (Note: it's a tiny vac, and the hose is about the diameter of an air hose.)

    4. The tank is in the bedroom on top of the dresser, so it's quite a bit higher than on an aquarium stand. I have to use a step stool to work in it. And then I'm so far away from the bucket that getting the end of the hose in there on the first try isn't guaranteed. Got any tips here?

    It's been two months and I feel I shouldn't be struggling with this anymore. I appreciate any help you can offer.
  2. Lorekeeper

    LorekeeperWell Known MemberMember

    1) Cloudiness is completely normal after a good WC, and especially after a good gravel siphon.

    2) I don't personally see an issue with removing him from the tank if it's quick and easy, but if you're having to chase him around a lot to get him out, I'd just leave him in and be careful. Less stressful.

    3) When I siphon (and I do this for saltwater tanks, which is a whole 'nother level of bad taste), I get it going and simply let it run into the bucket. I don't think I've ever had a gravel siphon not work that way, so i'm a bit confused as to what you're having trouble with. Mind to clarify?

    4) Maybe get the siphon started on the ground, and then climb the ladder? Or maybe even better, simply set the bucket on a fold up table or something to raise it up off the ground.

    We all have our own routines and systems, and it just sounds like you need to use some imagination to streamline your process.
  3. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogTooWell Known MemberMember

    The cloudiness that comes from disturbing the gravel when you dump new water in can be avoided by not pouring the water right onto the gravel. Set a small plate in the tank and slowly pour new water onto that. Or slowly pour water onto that coconut hut. But do it slowly. What I do is use a tool I made. I cut a plastic water bottle in half, and I cut a lot of tiny holes in the bottom half. I hold that over the tank and pour water very slowly into that, and it slowly drains into the tank like a rainwater shower head. It takes time, and the plastic bottle fills up faster than it drains, so I have to keep filling it and letting it empty, but it's an effective way to fill the tank without causing cloudiness. The best advice I can give you for refilling the tank and keeping the water clear is patience. Don't be in a hurry to get the tank filled back up. The slower you refill the tank, the less likely you are to disturb the substrate.

  4. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Hi :) I agree with most of what @Lorekeeper said, but I don't suck on hoses.:p

    Yes, cloudiness is normal when cleaning the substrate and my tanks also take a few hours to clear up and look pretty after a good cleaning.

    I know you already have a gravel vac, but I would suggest this cheap replacement that I think will make your life easier.


    The vac also has a small hose which is soft and pliable, making it easy to pinch when the rigid tube is full of substrate and you need to stop siphoning to let the sand fall back down. Also, the rigid tube is removable and using the hose only creates a stronger suction so you can vac stuff off the top of the sand. I also have sand in all my aquariums and I don't dig all the way down with every water change as fish waste and decaying plant matter stays on top.

    The squeeze bulb makes starting the siphon SUPER easy. :D

    These are the exact products I use for all of my tanks, :) 2 x 5g's, 1 x 7.5g cube, and 3 x 20g longs. I used to use clunkier vacs with no siphon starters and I can tell you, this cheap upgrade made all the difference in ease of use.

    In my experience, fish get used to regular maintenance. Cloudy water doesn't hurt them, it's just ugly for us. To me, it seems more stressful to catch and release a fish twice on water change day.

    I also agree that being careful and slow with water replacement will reduce the time you are looking at a cloudy tank. :)
  5. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    When I had my betta tank I had bought a gravel vac which had a small diameter plastic tube (the vacuum end) so it sucked out less volume of water therefore allowing more time to do a more thorough vacuuming. And since the cloudiness usually comes from stuff being stirred up from the substrate, being able to perform a more thorough vacuuming eliminated the cloudiness.

    It also had an in-line bulb that you could squeeze to start the siphon. I'm pretty sure I purchased it at PetSmart.
  6. Galathiel

    GalathielWell Known MemberMember

    Even with my starter bulb vacuum, half the time I still start them the way I always have ... submerge the vacuum tube sideways in the water and lift the tip back upright until the water starts to drain from the tube. Before it completely empties, I then dunk the tip back in the water and it usually will start siphoning at that point. Like so:
  7. OP
    Georgie Girl

    Georgie GirlValued MemberMember

    That's what I do, actually. And thinking about it more, I think the amount of cloudiness this last time was because I rearranged the furniture - moved the coconut hut and the plants around. Don't know why I didn't put that together. *dork*
  8. sleow

    sleowValued MemberMember

    This is also how I start my siphons and highly recommend it! I have two different sized gravel vacs for my different sized tanks and this method works with both of them.

    I always leave my fish in the tank during water changes. I find it's easier on them. Just keep a close eye on them because some fish get super interested in the intake tube.

    I would also recommend using a chair or extra table to elevate your bucket off the ground to help with "aim". I have a tank on my kitchen counter and need to put the bucket on stool to make sure the gravel vac tube stays inside.
  9. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    At FishLore name calling can get you banned, even if you are calling yourself names.:p:D

    Don't feel like a dork. Nobody thinks of everything all the time. There have been threads in the past where members shared stories of the embarrassing things they had mistakenly done. It's all part of being a fish keeper.
  10. E150GTValued MemberMember

    I never disturb the substrate when I siphon as I have light sand that can't really be vacuumed . I do turn off the filters though and when I pour water back in from a 5 gallon bucket, I just pour it slowly over my hand to help disperse the water evenly. My small tank rarely makes any mess. My 29 does get a little cloudy but its much more heavily stocked.

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