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Old 02-27-2009, 03:23 PM   #1
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Tearing down tank that's been standing for a month :$


I was wondering if anyone could help me out a bit. I have 2 questions.

I started cycling 2 aquariums in January, a 15 gallon and a 29 gallon I hate to admit that I cycled with fish. In the 15 gallon I used 2 platties and the tank is now fully cycled and the 2 fishies are doing great. The problem is that in the 29 gallon, I used 3 platties from another store to cycle and they all died within a few hours of each other, about 2 weeks into the cycle process. Their fins all of a sudden got frozen stiff and within a few hours..

1. So I am wondering, was the problem some disease, or were they already sick from the store?

2. Second Q. I got really sad after that, i wasn't sure if there was a disease in the tank or not so I didn't get any new fish to continue cycling from that point. I eventually shut off the filter and the water has been standing there for about a month. Yuck. Today I went out and bought some ammonia so I can do a fishless cycle this time but I don't know what I should do to tear down and disinfect/clean the aquarium now. It's all murky...All I did was siphon out all the water. What should i do next?

Thanks so much, sorry for the super long post!

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Old 02-28-2009, 11:12 AM   #2
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There is never a guarantee that your fish will make it I would tend to lean towards the thinking that your fish died from ammonia poisoning in the 29g.

I would If I were you take everything out of the 29g and rinse it all off. Possibly even rinse it in a 10-15% bleach solution. Then rinse it really good again and add a little extra prime or whatever product you use. They bleach would guarantee that there is no disease in your tank.

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Old 02-28-2009, 11:23 AM   #3
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If the tank had been sitting with stagnant water for a month, there may well be decaying stuff & possibly toxic gas buildup & other things that you don't want.

I would do a total tear down. I would remove all decorations & give them a good scrub in hot water (no soap!). Ditto for the filter - take it apart & clean out the impeller & all moving parts. I would ditch the filter media. <Unless you have a canister & using ceramic beads, in which case you clean & sterilize those for reuse.>

Next, remove the gravel. Put it in a colander & rinse with lots of water. <I would do that outside if possible.> It will be messy, but you want to get as much of the junk out as possible. <If you have sand, you need to do this with a bucket. Fill with water, stir, pour out water & gunk that had been stirred up, repeat .....>

Finally, wash & scrub the tank with hot water. Use vinegar to remove scales & other buildup.

Some people will then bleach everything after cleaning. <1:20 solution> This is good idea if there is a definite infection present in the tank, or if you have a heavy algae outbreak & want to kill everything. You would have to rinse very well after bleaching, and when all smell of bleach is gone, soak & rinse everything in a double or triple dose of dechlorinator.

Bleaching is quite labour intensive & messy, and you risk leaving residual bleach if you don't rinse well (& that would kill your biofilter ... so you have a stalled cycle). In your case, I don't think there is much risk of any nasties left after 1 month, so hot water is prob. enough. Bleaching is optional.

Once everything is cleaned, you can setup your shinny new tank & start cycling. Since you already have a cycled tank, you can seed the new setup with media/gravel from the old. This should greatly speed up the cycling. <Seeded properly, you can cycle in under a week.>
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Old 02-28-2009, 03:01 PM   #4
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I don't think bleaching is at all labour intensive. In fact, it reduces the amount of other cleaning if you do it first. I bleach everything before reuse. A lot of smaller things like filters and small tanks I run through the dishwasher, with detergent.
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