There is always always always stuff in my betta’s tank, and it of course gets stirred up after water changes. I always vacuum up the waste I can find and clean out dead plant matter. But no amount of cleaning helps. I suspect some of this floating stuff is normal. It takes an hour or two to settle. But it’s still there, just settled.

I just performed a 60-75% water change and scrubbed everything down to battle hair algae. I tried to vacuum the mystery stuff up during this to no avail. There was still lots in the water I left in the tank.

I’m always worried about now much there tends to be. What can I expect to find in a tank? What is normal to find/see?

Tank and care details:

I change my betta tank water weekly, about 20-40% depending on algae, waste, and evaporation levels. The tank is 10 gallons (38 liters) with lots of plants, one plastic and one natural log. Black sand substrate. Heater and standard filter system. Fed 3 pellets twice daily.

I test parameters every week as well: 0ppm nitrate and nitrite, and a 7.2-7.8 pH reading and .25ppm ammonia reading (I’ve never been able to lower pH and ammonia... due to all the stuff in the tank?).

1 Answer 1


To keep your tank in biological balance, you need to clean your tank at regular intervals. How often you need to clean the tank depends on a number of factors, like the number and type of fish and the amount of food you give each day.

It is not possible to answer what amount of waste is normal in a fishtank. As long as the water quality is good, your fish will be fine; so it is a bit up to you to decide what is acceptable.

Regular maintenance is changing about 20% water every week, and vacuuming the gravel every two weeks. You use a gravel vacuum and suck up the waste that acumulates in the gravel/sand, do this as a part of your regular water change.

When you do the partial water change, be sure to use dechlorinator in the water you add to your tank.

Your filter needs to be cleaned when you can see that the waterflow is reduced. Be sure to use the water from your tank when you clean the filter to keep the good bacteria alive.

Do not clean the filter too often - you need the bacteria living there to maintain a good water quality.

If your tank is in biological balance, you should not be able to detect any measurable content of ammonia or nitrite - only nitrate should be present in the water.

You can take a look at the relevant article on fishlore.com on how to keep the tank in biological balance.

If possible, try to limit the amount of water you change each week to about 20%. If you get an ammonia or nitrite spike, you need to change a larger amount of water than this.

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