Tank Cleaning


Once your tank is established, you shouldn’t have problems keeping it clean. You should test you water every week using the API Master Test Kit. If the levels look good you don’t have to change the water. Some tanks can go two to three weeks before their levels bounce. It depends on how many fish or live plants you have. Fish and dead plant matter produce ammonia. As you should know by now, ammonia turns to nitrites, which turn to nitrates.

Nitrates cannot be recycled in a closed aquarium. They must be removed or they can poison your fish. Partial water changes, usually 20% fresh water, will keep your tank spic and span and your fish healthy.

Around once a month you can do a minor gravel cleaning. What you do is use your gravel vacuum and clean the top layer of gravel. Don’t dig too deep. Good bacteria grows in your gravel. If you clean all the gravel off, then the bacteria comes with it. Don’t clean your gravel at all when cycling.

If you tank isn’t balancing or the water is getting foggy quickly, you can do a full gravel cleaning. You can dig your vacuum in all the way and clean the gravel at the bottom. This advice is for people with small tanks (<10 gal). With small tanks cleaning the gravel can be hard to do without sucking all the water out of the tank. During your weekly water change you can try and clean around 1/3 of your gravel. The point is to clean up uneaten food and poops. Most food packages recommend feeding your fish waaayyy too much food. Like kill your fish in a month amount of food. I don’t ever have extra food in my tank. The only thing thing to clean is fish and snail poops.

Lately I’ve had to mess around with my decorations. When doing this the gunk got disturbed and fogged up my tank a bit, but the filter sorted it out. I’ve haven’t used my gravel vacuum yet because I was worried I would suck my little ghost shrimp up. They both have died now and so I can proceed to try it. I’ll give tips once I try.


You need to realize that the tank companies need to make money. They will always advise you to use more than you need. Keep this in mind with your filter. A common mantra amongst tank owners is keep your filter till it falls apart. You should not change out your filter every four to six months like the packaging recommends. I’ve heard of people keeping theirs for over a year.

When you change yours out be sure to keep a section of it. Lay that on top of your new filter. That way the water can run through the good bacteria in the old filter and help keep your Nitrogen cycle established. When changing a filter, be aware that you may get fluctuating levels. Be careful of New Tank Syndrome during this time.

I think that’s everything! If I think of anything else I add it in.

Buying a Tank

I went to Petsmart ready to get a real tank. This was October 10, 2014. I went in knowing I needed a small tank, but also a cheap one. If you read my previous blog you know that at this point I had a running total of $57.27 on this project so far. Everything I had bought was able to be put to use in the new tank as well, except the air stone, tubing, and pump. If I had known, I could have saved $13.14. So now you can save money! Anyway, I went in and saw this tank and misread the label. The label was poorly placed and led me to believe the tank was $17. The 1 gallon tanks below these on the stand were $17. This stand was a cardboard “sale” stand, so placement and stickers were everywhere. I don’t regret the purchase though, because this tank is perfect and I saved $10.

It is a 2.5 gallon tank, and also comes in 5 gallon. The 2.5 is $39.99 and the 5 is $59.99. Seems a little steep, but it comes with almost everything you’ll ever need.

So the tank itself is very modern looking. It is rectangular with a bowed out front. It is 11.5 inches long, 12.5 inches high, and 7.625 inches deep. It weighs 3.5 lbs unfilled.

It sits in a stand that looks a little more modern in the white color, but I like it in black too. The stand contains a built in drip tray, which has been handy for me a few times.

The lid is equip with two LED lights, and a feeding hole. It also has a narrow slit down the back to allow the filter cord out. Should you need a water heater, the slit should allow ample access for that cord as well. It would easily accommodate a thermometer. You won’t have to worry about cutting anything or creating additional holes. The LED plugs in separately of the filter and has an on/off switch located closer to the tank than to the plug.


It comes with what I like to call, a waterfall filter. It pulls in water, filters it, and then the water pours out the top like a little waterfall. The company call it a Quietflow filtration system. Because of this, the water is aerated and you don’t need an air stone. The filter is silent. 100% SILENT! This is by far the best part of this tank. It comes with one filter pack (which could last well over a year, I’ll explain why in a different blog), one packet of color enhancing Betta food (which will also last forever), and a water conditioner containing a dechlorinator, good bacteria, and nutrients good for Betta fish. I believe the labeled warned that it must be placed on a flat table that can handle 45 lbs of weight.

It comes with a divider. NEVER ever place two bettas in such a small space. 1.25 gallon is not enough for one betta fish. Technically 2.5 isn’t big enough either. I have the divider tossed in a drawer.

It also came with coupons for and samples of Aqueon Betta bowl plus, and Aqueon color enhancing Betta food. Betta bowl plus sample is one use, but the food sample could last you months. (Go down to the ** for a review on Aqueon Betta food)


I had to get decorations! So I found this adorable flower arrangement. It was well priced and fit perfectly in my tank. Along with the shells I already had, I knew my tank would look very sleek.


While I was buying everything, almost all the packaging had Betta fish on it. Betta this, Betta that. Soooo…. I looked at the fish available. I hadn’t even told my parents I was getting a new tank, let alone a fish. I’m 19 and in college, but live at home and commute. I figured, “Hey I’m the one taking care of this tank, right? So I can buy what I want.” With that in mind I pushed forward. Since the tank was so small, I didn’t want to get one of the large (beautiful) male Betta fish. Also, they were like $14 for one fish! That’s more than my hamster cost! Anyway, I looked at the girl fish and found a baby one. She was so much smaller than the others and I knew she had some growing to do. Some fish stop growing if you put them in a small tank, so I hoped this would happen and she wouldn’t get too big. I really didn’t want to stress any fish out because the tank was too small. She was a pale bluish white, but when the light caught her she was a beautiful teal/turquoise color. So everything in hand I went home and set the tank up before my parents came home. My next blog will explain why this was a stupid thing to do (buying the fish and the tank at the same time). If you plan on owning a tank you MUST read my next blog on Nitrogen tank cycling or read up on your own.

**Review – I had Betta food from previous fish. We had always owned male Betta fish. I was using the sample provided, but thought I’d try the old food (we had so much left). The pellet was too large for my poor fish to swallow. She tried about 5 times before I took it out and gave her the Aqueon food. The Aqueon food was great! I stated above she was a pale bluish color. After eating this food, almost immediately her color darkened and became more vibrant. She is now a beautiful blue/purple/green, light depending. Originally, my mom had asked me why I bought such an ugly fish. She hadn’t seen the way the light had reflected off her in the store. I knew she was beautiful and this food helped bring her natural beauty out! Highly recommend.

  • Tank = $29.74
  • decor = $9.99
  • fish = $5.79
  • Betta color food = $4.29
  • TOTAL = $54.57

*Note: a second shrimp had died that day, prompting me into hasty purchasing. Normally I like to research before major purchases. I knew the water quality was getting worse and had to buy a new tank.

Lastly, I need to mention that this tank does NOT include a heater. The room I keep my tank in is always around 75 degrees (F). I’ve never needed a heater. Be aware, most fish require a temp of 70-80 degrees (F).