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Best way to clean out a fish tank!??

(19 Posts)
erindesmond Mon 15-Aug-16 23:47:40

Basically we have 2 goldfish and when we first got them were told never to fully clean out the tank...We were told to take out a jugful of water from the tank and replace it with fresh water one a week and this would keep the tank looking fresh and clean...Well that deffo isn't the case with my tank!! I went to feed them this morning and the water is looking really brown and there is poo everywhere! Ive taken a couple of jugfuls out and replaced it but it is still looking really dirty...I think it really needs a proper clean and the tank itself needs a clean inside as well as the gravel at the bottom of the tank..Can I not put the fish in a perpetrate container with some of the tank water,give the tank a good clean and replace it with all new fresh water?? I know I would have to leave the water for a day or 2 to settle but am worried as obviously I don't want to kill the fish!! But apart from doing that I really don't know what else to do! Any suggestions would be gratefully received!!

Thank you

ladybird69 Mon 15-Aug-16 23:55:29

I had 2 goldfish who lived til 15 yrs old from a fair, hoop the ducks! . If they are normal goldfish (nothing fancy) fill a bucket with water leave for 24 hours then move fish into bucket give bowl/tank a clean then put clean water and fish back into bowl/tank.they lasted years and years. I admit the fancy ones need extra care. Good luck

ladybird69 Mon 15-Aug-16 23:57:23

Oh yeah and goldfish are dirty little beggars not like tropical.

OlennasWimple Mon 15-Aug-16 23:58:51

I use tap water conditioner so the fresh water can be used immediately- is that not a thing in the UK? (I'm overseas at the moment)

Blondie1984 Tue 16-Aug-16 00:08:42

You can get tap water conditioner in pet shops - I used to put mine in the bath when I was cleaning the tank, they loved having a good swim up and down and then I put them back in the tank straight away - and they lived for ages
When I got them I was also told that I could use bottled water in their tank if I didn't want to do the "waiting to settle" palaver

lauracobden Tue 16-Aug-16 00:30:47

Fish tanks can be tricky to clean especially from the inside. You said you've already cleaned the water out and it still looks really dirty, to me it sounds like it needs cleaning from the inside out as dirt and bacteria can easily build up in there. For that i think you need a double sided cleaning brush The bristles on the end of this brush will be able to give your fish tank a good clean from the inside and with it's extra long reach it won't be too uncomfortable for you to use:-)

Archduke Tue 16-Aug-16 00:47:58

We have goldfish, and I clean their tank once every couple of weeks (actually probably more like monthly).

This is what I do in some easy steps

1. Get them and some of the tank water out of the tank and into a large bowl.

2. Remove gravel, plants, pump, etc from tank.

3. Give tank a thorough clean, scrub the glass and remove any green stuff growing in the corners

4. Thorough rinse of the tank to remove any washing up liquid

5. Thoroughly rinse the gravel to remove all poo/food/filth

6. Place lovely clean gravel and plants (only if they're still ok and not slimy) into tank

7. Fill Tank with tap water with WATER CONDITIONER and some goldfish disinfectant stuff

8. Leave for 15 mins with the pump running so water gets to a similar temperature

9. Put back happy fish

They've lived for a while and seem happy enough. You really must give the tank a clean, it sounds horrible for the poor fish.

ButteredToastAndStrawberryJam Tue 16-Aug-16 01:34:57

Have you got a filter?

ExAstris Tue 16-Aug-16 05:37:53

As ButteredToast says, have you got a filter? Goldfish are dirty beggars, they make a lot of waste for their size and are best suited to a nice BIG tank with a good quality filter and frequent water changes.

The reason you've been told to not clean out the gravel etc is that beneficial bacteria (that turn the ammonia from fish waste to less harmful nitrites and then to even less harmful nitrates) live in the gravel. You then change water to remove nitrates. Ammonia burns fish, so very painful for them, and significantly shortens their lifespan (goldfish should live about 15 years IIRC) so you don't want to kill the bacteria. But a much better place for bacteria to live, that can support more of them and therefore keep the water cleaner, is a filter.

Work out your aquarium volume with this:
www.firsttankguide.net/calculator.php
and buy a filter that is meant for a bigger volume of water (as I said, goldfish are mucky).

Then you need a gravel cleaner, which you use during every water change to squidge around in the gravel sucking up poo and dirty water. When replacing the water you've removed, you'll need a water conditioner as PP mentioned, you can get them really cheap somewhere like Pets at Home. Leaving the water to stand used to be fine, decades ago, but the fish-unfriendly compounds used in tap water now are more stable, so don't break down over 24 hours like they used to. HTH.

plutoisnotaplanet Tue 16-Aug-16 15:28:13

Do you have a filter? if not get one soon, they are little breeding grounds for all the beneficial bacteria which keep your tank water safe for the fish... it works like this:

Fish poops.
Fish poop degrades and turns into ammonia
Ammonia is lethal to fish
Beneficial bacteria 1 (bb1) comes along and eats the ammonia and poops out nitrites
Nitrites are deadly to fish..
Beneficial bacteria 2 (bb2) comes along, eats the nitrites and poops out nitrate.
Nitrate is safe for fish in small doses.
You do water changes (depending on the size of your tank, between 25% and 50% weekly) to keep your nitrates at an acceptable level. Aquatic plants love to eat Nitrates so they keep the levels nice and low too as well as oxygenating your water.

You should never clean a fish tank because if you destroy the beneficial bacteria, ammonia builds up very quickly in the tank and will kill your fish.This is also why you need to use a water conditioner that gets rid of chlorine in your tap water. Chlorine will kill of the bacteria the minute it hits your tank so it's really important you dont use unconditioned water.

Goldfish are really really messy fish, they are swimming poop machines and so produce A LOT of ammonia and so this process, known as the "cycle" is hugely important.

To clean the tank, use a green scourer sponge and gently buff off the algae from the glass. Then take 50% of the water out of the tank and place in a bucket. Take out decorations etc and scrub them off in the tank water. Re-fill the tank with conditioned water that's at room temp.

If your only taking out a jug full at a time, I suspect your tank is under 10 gallons. In that environment, ammonia levels will become toxic within 5 days for just 1 goldfish. If you have more than 1 goldfish in a tank that size you'll need to be doing water changes of 50% every 2 days. Bigger tanks are much easier to maintain!

plutoisnotaplanet Tue 16-Aug-16 15:31:01

Archduke oh god please stop using washing up liquid in your tank! shockshockshock!!

By cleaning a tank that thoroughly you'll be completely destroying your cycle every time you clean the tank, which by the way is no where near often enough if you have a goldfish in a tank small enough to pick up sad

Archduke Tue 16-Aug-16 22:11:33

What would you use pluto? If not a lovely squirt of (eco) washing up liquid?

Also how often would you clean it - it's only a small tank - with one goldfish and one teeny stripy fish. And would you clean the whole thing more regularly or just change the water regularly then give the whole tank a clean every few weeks?

Happy to take advice

plutoisnotaplanet Wed 17-Aug-16 08:23:56

No chemicals at all and never empty it completely, just scrub the insides with a soft scourer and then do a 50% water change. As you scrub, stir up the substrate so it releases the poop into the water and then when you're taking 50% of the water out, catch the poop in the process.

Your tank is also way too small for a goldfish plus another fish, goldfish are very very messy fish and need about 30 gallons to live happily. In a tank that small you need to be doing 50% water changes daily just to keep your ammonia down sad

Archduke Wed 17-Aug-16 09:26:26

Really pluto? We were told by the pet shop that it was fine for a sole goldfish and tiny fish.

In fact you can get much smaller ones - this one is about 35 x 25 x 20 cm.

Do you suggest a 30 gallon tank for itself?

The fish seem to be fine. So far.

How big are the rest of your tanks?

plutoisnotaplanet Wed 17-Aug-16 10:02:46

Never trust the advise of someone who's trying to sell you something sad Pet shops are notorious for selling completely unsuitable tanks angry Yep, 30 gallons for the single goldfish.

Your current tank is about 3.8 gallons (17.5 litres) which is just about suitable for a single betta (Siamese fighting fish) but you'd need a heater for that. It's not really big enough for anything else.

Really sorry this has happened to you, it's such a common problem sad I'd suggest either investing in a bigger tank or rehoming the fish, The pet shop usually takes them back smile

DanglyEarOrnaments Wed 17-Aug-16 20:46:08

Anyone who is allowed to sell the fish in a pet store should be fully aware of the nitrogen cycle.

Unfortunately this is sometimes not the case, there should be a basic exam on understanding of fish tank cycling before anyone can sell the fish.

Chchchchangedname Wed 17-Aug-16 21:02:46

Do you have a Dobbies near you that sells fish? Mine is excellent - all the staff there keep tropical or marine fish themselves, they know loads and are very keen to help newbies learn how to care for fish properly. You can't buy fish at mine unless you bring a water sample in for them to test.

Archduke Wed 17-Aug-16 22:25:49

Crikey poor Bruce (the fish).

So we have an outdoor fishpond with about 8 goldfish in it. Can Bruce go there - when the weather warms up? (We are in Australia so not spring yet).

Pestilence13610 Wed 17-Aug-16 22:32:28

We replace 30 L every two days for 3 goldfish and two weather loaches.
Goldfish are mucky little buggers

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