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Once Year Deep Clean


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Hey, I've kept goldfish for a little over a year with little problems. But I've read that it's a good idea to do a complete tank clean-up once a year. 100% water change, change gravel, rinse out tank, ect. Is this really neceassary? How would I go about doing this? Where would my fish stay when I'm cleaning the tank/waiting for it to cycle?

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Here its recommended to do 100% water change once every month...I wouldn't change the gravel as it houses the BBs to some extent...just gently rinsing them in siphoned out tank water should be good enough...I always rinse my tank with just plain warm water...While doing 100% water changes my fish go in the 5 gallon bucket with the bubbler...and the gems (in ur case gravel) go in a 2.5 gallon fish bowl I have (an extra that I use sometimes during water changes)...The 5 gallon bucket has 3/4th tank water and 1/4th fresh water...the 2.5 gallon bowl has 100% tank water...Mine is pretty easy on me as its a 20 gallon...I easily carry it to the bathtub for a tap water rinse...and I take care no soap or anything touches it...if your tank is bigger I am not sure how to rinse it...but yeah 100% water changes are good every month...takes out all the bad bacteria...which otherwise keep building...hope this helps..

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Well I have a 30 gallon for Fiona. I've never done a 100% water change before and I've certainly never heard of doing it every month. It seems like it would really stress her out. Being in a little 2.5 gallon bowl, new water and harsh chemicals. Plus different temperatures. How long does this usually take from fish out to fish in?

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Well I have a 30 gallon for Fiona. I've never done a 100% water change before and I've certainly never heard of doing it every month. It seems like it would really stress her out. Being in a little 2.5 gallon bowl, new water and harsh chemicals. Plus different temperatures. How long does this usually take from fish out to fish in?

Well...Yes, 100% water changes are very important and need to be done once a month..atleast that is what is recommended here on the forum..most of the members follow this very religiously..this helps to get out all the bad bacteria that keeps building in the substrate..very essential in ur case since you have gravel...

I think you got me all wrong....2.5 gallon bowl holds the gravel or the gems..basically the substrate...My fishies go in a 5 gallon bucket with the bubbler...Like I said you can have 50% water from the tank and 50% fresh water..this gives time to the fish to get adjusted to the new water without shocking them or stressing them out...Now this fresh water has to be of the same pH and temperature as your tank water...and there are no harsh chemicals except for a dechlorinator in the water...I do agree that handling a fish tends to stress them out...therefore I always transport the fish in a pitcher...all I do is simply fill a pitcher ith tank water and the fish goes in there while the pitcher is in there..so its minimal handling...and to let the fish out I do the same thing...simply immerse the pitcher in the bucket and the fish swims out happily...the fishies stay in the bucket for about half an hour..does not take me too long to fill up their tank.. :) ...hope this helps..

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I never do a 100% water change. I can crash your cycle. I do weekly 30 percent and once a month 50 percent and I rince out one filter about every other week. With two filters on my goldfish tank that means one gets a good rince every other week.

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I've never had any problems with doing large water changes. Yesterday, I moved my tank (50 gallon) from the floor onto the stand I built, while simultaneously trying to eliminate my snail problem... I completely drained the tank so that I could lift it up by myself, and thoroughly cleaned everything except the filter (the filter was drained, though), making sure to get rid of all the snail eggs. The fish lived in a large mixing bowl for a couple hours.

When we had a unanticipated snowstorm in June, we brought the fish inside from the deck pond into a tank, doing a 99% water change in the process. Even the crazy temperature fluctuations were not enough to throw off the cycle.

As long as the filter is left alone, the tank's new water is the same pH and temperature as the old water, and the water is properly dechlorinated, the cycle and fish should be fine. Having excess filtration capacity (with lots of bio media) will help protect against cycle bumps and crashes, especially if you're going to clean out the filters.

Edited by A Penguin
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Step up in water changes slowly. If you have not done large water changes before don't just jump into a 75-100% water change. They are not vital. An aggressive water change schedule is important, but that doesn't mean 100% every month. Many less experienced people trying to do this can easily mess up something, resulting in illness or easily death for the goldfish.

My tank gets about 75% each week.

Effectively all of the nitrifying bacteria are in the filters, not the substrate.

Doing a 'deep cleaning' as described is basicaly like starting over completely, only now you have a full stock of goldfish that are much larger than when you got them. This is asking for problems.

Any more information on why a 100% water change every month is vital? (more than just 'because people here do it').

What 'bad bacteria' build up in the substrate? I have never heard of this nor have I ever seen ANY evidence for it in my experience. Even if they are there, what is a 100% WATER change doing that a thorough vacuuming won't?

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You should do a 100% water change because along with the BBs building up in your water (not the filter media! This should always be left alone except for the occasional rinse in OLD TANK WATER) the baddies build up too. A 100% water change clears these out and gives the BBs a leg up in the new water.

I wouldn't do a "deep clean" because like fishguy said, this is like starting over. However, a monthly (or at the very least bimonthly) total water change is giving your goldie the best possible environment to live in.

It's like the uninformed saying that all that a goldfish needs is a bowl and flake food. It's when you take the extra steps that you give your goldie the BEST POSSIBLE environment to grow and THRIVE in, not merely SURVIVE.

It's also very important to realize that goldfish are NOT like other fish. They are in essence the dogs of the fish world; they have been through thousands of years of selective breeding to cultivate what were once mutations into dominant traits. So while tropical fish might not need such aggressive water changes, goldfish do. They are dirty, active fish. This isn't really a good combination for a tank, honestly. They produce a lot of waste, swim a lot in the waste, then proceed to produce a lot MORE waste. So if you are going to keep this fish, you need to be more than a person looking for a pretty fish to look at once in a while. You need to be a caretaker, because they need it.

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Thank you RyukinGirl.. :D ..

I associate deep clean with 100% water change only...this does not mean starting over...and trust me 100% water change will never hurt your cycle...if your cycle has been established for a few months...100% water change can never hurt it...

Now to explain the bad bacteria building up....I can bet with a 50% water change evry week or even a 75%...and vacuuming not all the gunk can come out of the gravel...there is always some left behind...this will definitely keep rotting...like ryukinGirl said along with the good bacteria...the bad bacteria also builds up with the food rotting away or the gunk that stays in the gravel...trust me you can never take out all the gunk with a partial water change...100% water change gives you a chance to avoid the baddies building up...This does not mean starting over..this merely means, you are gtting all the water out and rinsing your gravel in the tank water itself...never in the tap water...this practice elminates the bad bacteria building...Also when doing a 100% water change only gently rinse the filter pad in tank water...dont overdo the cleaning....this will help maintain the cycle... :)

I personally like cleaning all my stuff once in a while thoroughly...can be compared to like everyday dusting at home...but obviously once a month a good wipe off and thorough cleaning...so I can really live with the reason of the possibility of baddies growing and yes I need to clean things out once in a while...thts why 100% water change....Its proof enuf that it does not hurt the cycle at all...cos I have done it...this is good enuf reason to me than merely following what others do... :)

This is just a suggestion...seriously everyone has their own belief system and you are more than welcome to follow what you think is right..I also agree that a newbie doing it for the first time might upset the cycle...but you have to do it someday so basically have to start somewhere...you will master it within no time... :) ...and trust me its not too difficult..fairly simple..just need to take care that you are not overdoing anything...and even if there is a bump in the cycle..things will stabalise in a week's time...with partial water changes everyday... :) ...hope this helps.. :)

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What are these 'bad bacteria'? I have not heard of these before. Any Genus names for them? What do they do that is bad? Where did you get this information?

If you don't do 100% water changes what is the result that these bad bacteria will cause?

Goldfish are not any dirtier than other fish PER SIZE. They just happen to pack a lot more into every inch. There are two things that produce waste, undigested food and cellular respiration. The waste form undigested food is feces. This is dependend on the quality of the food. A low quality food with lots of fillers will produce more feces. Goldfish do not produce more feces per weight than other fish. Waste from cellular respiration is the waste as a result of the natural metabolism of the cells. This is mainly as ammonia that is discharged from the gills and as urine. Again, goldfish do not produce more per weight than other fish, they just happen to pack a lot more weight per inch.

Yes, effectively all the nitrifying bacteria are in the filters, so a 100% water change will not effect this at all.

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My method is an 8-10 inch water change for my 60-gallon tank and a bit less for my 46-gallon tetra tank about once a week to 10 days along with putting the python to the gravel (large). I clean the filters (redundancy is the key here) on a rotating basis. Testing is a good thing and helps me keep the tank in bio balance and can head off a pH crash. This method works for me, the key being consistency and monitoring.

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What are these 'bad bacteria'? I have not heard of these before. Any Genus names for them? What do they do that is bad? Where did you get this information?

If you don't do 100% water changes what is the result that these bad bacteria will cause?

What exactly is it that you think makes fish sick? Do you just think they get sick but there's no cause for it?

These bad bacteria are aeromonas hydrophila, pseudomonas, aeromonas salmonicida, edwardsiella, flexibacter columnaris, streptococcus and mycobacterium fortuitum. They can cause hemorrhages, pop eye, septicemia, viremia, swim bladder disorder, ulcers, dropsy, hexamita, fungus, fin, tail and mouth rot, tuberculosis, cloudy eyes, gill holes, cysts, for example. This information comes from hundreds of thousands of scientists who have studied fish for any reason at any time.

If you don't have any type of substrate; that is, if you have a bare bottom tank, then I would say that a 100% water change isn't necessary from a collection of detritus-causing-bad-bacteria standpoint, although, I think we can all agree that water can get stale and it's just nice to freshen things up from time to time. So, a 100% water change, even in a bare bottom tank is good just for getting some all new nice, fresh water in there. But, if you have gravel or anything else on the bottom of your tank that has sufficient depth to collect food and poop that you can't see, there is no amount of vacuuming that you can do during your weekly water change that is going to remove all of that detritus. It's going to collect in corners and pockets that you're just going to miss. The only way to completely remove all detritus collected in gravel is to completely remove and rinse the gravel outside the tank.

Allowing potentially bad bacteria to remain in your water because you're afraid of stressing your fish by moving them for a 100% change is a bad choice. If you develop a capture method that is gentle and non-aggressive, your fish will experience very little stress. As JC said, if you submerge a small container in the tank, slowly, gently, carefully corner the fish and let it slip into the container, then raise the container out of the water, fish and all, then submerge the container into your holding bucket and let the fish swim out, there is virtually no stress. And regardless, I'll take a little stress over bad bacteria any day.

Doing a 100% water change should not affect the cycle at all, provided you do not allow any of the things that hold the beneficial bacteria from drying out. At worst, you might get a small bump that will quickly cycle out with no ill effects. And of course, you do still need to follow basic cleaning rules. No scrubbing to death, no cleaners/anti-bacterials, etc. The goal is to remove the gravel so you can rinse it outside of the tank. That's all.

What is the opposition to doing a 100% water change? It can't hurt, but it sure can help. I just don't see how having a truly fresh, clean tank is something that should be considered a bad thing.

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I do a weekly 30% and once a month I clean the filter. Daily almost I vacuum the poops out. I have a battery powered vacuum that only picks up the crud so I always give the gravel a good clean every couple of days. I net any floating matter daily to.

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