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Guidance about tank care

dahdahlv

AC Members
I have been reading threads since I posted earlier today about 2 of my plecos dying and I am finding out that I need a lot of help! So, my first order of business is to learn about tank care.

Here is what I have: Since March, 10 gallon tank with a Betta (original), 2 neon swordtails (orginal), 2 shrimp (1 since April, 2 deaths and now a newer one since June) and 2 frogs (since June). (Also, 2 plecos that have died, one introduced 4 weeks ago and one two weeks ago after the other died). I also have 5 low light plants (pic attached), I have already forgotten what type they are. The filter is a 5-10 gal filter. There is also a heater and an air pump. Earlier this week I got a Full Spectrum LED Freshwater Fish Tank Light (10-Watt). I have also placed 5 small Marimos and a large 1 Marimos. I honestly don't know the purpose of having these Marimos, I just thought they could be fun for the Betta since he seems to like bumping into or sitting on the other inhabitants on occasion.
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I do water changes every 2 weeks to once a month, more often it ends up being once a month. I feed them flakes daily, sometimes twice a day (I was feeding them twice a day until my Betta became bloated). The last time I did testing (about 2 weeks ago) pH was 8.0; Amonia 0; Nitrite 0; and Nitrate 0.

1) Here comes my first question (maybe this shouldn't my first question): Am I changing the water enough? I originally understood you could do 10% weekly, 30% bi-weekly or 50% monthly.

2) Next question: When I do my water changes, I remove the live plants and decor and clean them in tank water I have removed and keep them out of the tank until I am done. On occasion, I will even remove my aquatic critters by putting them in a bowl (using their tank water of course), though I don't do this every time. Then, I will rub my hands through the gravel to bring up junk and to clean the brown algae from surface. Then I will vacuum at the the surface of the rocks. What a process! Am I doing more harm then good? What do you all do?

3) I have so many more questions, but I will end on this for now so I can focus on all the good info I hope that will be shared with me. I read in one of the forums that changing the filter will remove the good colonies of bacteria built up. So, when that little thing goes from blue to red, I shouldn't switch out?

I am so excited to be here in this community. You all have been so helpful to so many and I really want to do right by my new little friends. My goal is to move into a 50+ gal in a few months, but not before I am more knowledgeable!
 

ustabefast

AC Members
If I understand correctly, your current stock is one betta, two small shrimp, two swordtails and the two frogs?
I'd say you are fully stocked at this point, assuming the betta plays nice with the other inhabitants. The Plecos would have gotten way too big for this tank.

It looks like you're doing something right with your good water parameters, but personally, I like the routine of a regular small weekly water change. It shocks the fish less than less frequent but larger water changes. I don't rub my fingers through the substrate but I will push the vac into the gravel a bit to bring up accumulated mulm.
Removing the plants will prevent them from fully acclimating and rooting in the substrate.
I'd leave them alone.
As far as changing the filter floss, I rinse the old floss in dechlorinated or tank water until it starts to fall apart, then of course, I go ahead and change it. If your tank were not yet cycled I would recommend leaving the old grungy floss in the tank for a while but you should have enough bacteria colony developed by now to eschew this step.
 
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