New Guy: Nitrite Problem "Fish In" Cycling Tank
10 gallon filtered, heated tank, Ammonia-.25 ppm, Nitrites 2-5ppm, Nitrates 10-20ppm, PH 7.0-7.2
Freshwater aquarium, 2.5-3 inch Betta fish, 78 degree water,
10 gallon Aquelon Quiet Flow filter (kit) 100gph
7 hours fluorescent light per day (kit hood light)
fed 3 Betta pellets twice daily and freeze-dried brine shrimp once a week (pellets the other feeding)
Hey, just joined because I need some help. Didn't know about cycling, received a Betta from a wedding in a vase with a plant on top. Did research - found this to be awful - bought and set up a 10 gallon tank, put the Betta in.
It's been 23 days since I put the Betta in the 10 gallon. Did a ton of research and bought an API test kit. Did plenty of water changes (25% each time). He got fin rot. Treated him with Maracyn Two - the hole in his fin healed, though he still looks ragged and the edges are whitish.
Used TLC Start Smart to help speed things up so he might survive the process - got a small Ammonia spike and a big Nitrite spike and Nitrates started to appear. Re-tested my PH and found it to be 7.8. Whoa.
Holes keep appearing in his fins and disappearing from what I can tell. I have been worried about this Betta from the start, especially after all of the research I've done, so I buy some Mopani driftwood (tannins lower PH) and 3 full grown Java ferns (feed on Nitrites) and put them in.
Water is now dirty brown (tannins) and the Java ferns were from PetCo, so they're in ratty condition but I bought from where I had access at the time - more worried about the Betta.
Did a 25% water change last night and those numbers above are from AFTER the water change. I'm gonna test my tap water for Nitrites tonight.
Should the measurement stay at 5ppm AFTER a 25% water change?
The Ammonia and the PH both have dropped significantly since adding the driftwood and plants. He likes the real plants and the wood. He swims through the real plants and never did with the silk ones.
He also swims up to the filter outflow and flares his gills huge (as if taking a big deep breath) and continues to swim around. He doesn't do this all the time.
I cut a 1 Liter soda bottle up and wrapped the middle of it around the filter to stem the outflow - it was knocking him all over the tank.
Initially I just rubber-banded an additional filter cartridge in front of the outflow. I think i caused the fin rot by not using the full force of the filter but he hated the current.
What else can I do to cycle this quicker? I want to help the Betta as much as I can and I'm at a loss.
Sorry about the long post. I'm brand new to this and I'm freaked out. Thanks for any help you can give.
I would bet those numbers are your tap water, which will (when you confirm with numbers of tests on just the tap water itself) be easy to deal with. Prime is a water conditioner that detoxifies all three (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) should any of all be in your tap water. Assuming the tank is cycled [and I'm betting it may be] Prime will handle water changes.
You mention plants, that's excellent for the above and also for the betta. As for your filter, I would remove it and let the tank run itself. A 10g with plants can easily handle a single betta, or a group of small fish. You can see the photo of my experimental 10g for proof of that. No filter, no light, just a heater; plants and 9 Boraras brigittae and (so far) 1 Corydoras pygmaeus [got the only one in the store tank]. Plus, betta come from very quiet swamps and ponds and do not appreciate water movement although something minimal like a sponge filter would be acceptable.
Wood tannins will not hurt any fish that comes from such environments naturally, as betta do. The anabantids live in stagnant ponds and swamps with very acidic soft water.
With plants and one betta, the tank will cycle itself. I guarantee it. Those high ammonia and nitrite are most likely your tap water, but we'll deal with that when you post numbers later. I would remove the filter though.
Thanks for the advice and input, much appreciated. It's not the tap water. Zero's across the board, except for a high PH of 7.8. The Mopani did what I wanted and my tank is 7.0 - 7.2. I didn't want to use tablets, heard they were unstable sometimes.
Tested the tank and the numbers were the same. Gonna do a 10-15% water change right after I log off and maybe do a small one like that every day for a week and test again.
I don't know what else to do. Betta seems happy, except there was another tiny hole in his fin today. I think he may be doing it to himself with all of his swimming near the filter. I did put in aquarium salt to help him heal as well - forgot to mention that in my last post.
I believe you have success with no filter but at this stage with new plants in the water, I'm afraid to just get rid of it. Plus you're the only person I've ever heard say unplug it. Like I said, you may be successful but I'm just a rookie, so I'd rather not chance it just yet. Thanks again, I need all the help I can get.
Salt is very bad for betta as indeed most fish. I posted at length on this topic earlier this evening, so will copy over for your help:
Salt affects the slime coat and gills because it is an irritant and the fish thus produce more mucous as a means of fighting it. Here's the reason.
Salt makes the water more dense than the same water without salt. The aquarium contains water. The bodies of fish and plant leaves also contain water [just as we do--we are, what is it, 90-some percent water?]. The water in the aquarium and the water in the fish/plant is separated by a semi-permeable layer which is the cell. Water can pass through this cell. When either body of water is more dense, the other less-dense body of water will pass through the membrane to equalize the water on both sides.
Water is constantly passing through the cells of fish by osmosis in an attempt to equate the water inside the fish (which is more dense) with the water in the aquarium. Put another way, the aquarium water is diluting the fish's body water until they are equal. Freshwater fish regularly excrete this water through respiration and urination. This is the issue behind pH differences as well as salt and other substances. It increases the fish's work--the kidney is used in the case of salt--which also increases the fish's stress in order to maintain their internal stability. Also, the fish tends to produce more mucus especially in the gills; the reason now seems to be due to the irritant property of salt--the fish is trying to get away from it.
There is varying opinion on salt, I admit that; but I have never yet found one written authority who recommends salt in a freshwater aquarium in general, only as a medication/treatment for something.
Dr. Stanley Weitzman, Emeritus Research Scientist at the Smithsonian and an acknowledged authority on characoid fishes (tetras, etc) writes that 100 ppm of salt is the maximum tolerated by characins, and several species show considerable stress leading to death at less, 60 ppm. 100 ppm is equivalent to .38 of one gram of salt per gallon, which is about 1/15 of one teaspoon [one level teaspoon is 6 grams].
This is why I do not recommend salt, whatever it may say elsewhere.
I agree with much of above. I would use a water conditioner such as PRIME for water changes and
would reduce feedings to once a day.
I would also employ a small sponge filter for the tank for if plants are not thriving, then water is becoming polluted. I would use a gravel vaccum on one third to one half the bottom once a week and a different area each week taking care to move the wood to vaccum waste that may gather around or under the wood.
Might consider floating plants to go along with Java Fern and would remove any dead plant material which can foul the water.
Would also ensure that no one else is feeding the fish.
I've had bettas off and on for years and can assure you Byron is right - the betta would be better off without the filter - if you're worried about filtration I'd do what he suggested and get a small sponge filter although you really don't need it with the plants in there (but if you want you could pull off a small sponge filter and air pump (to run it) for under $20) - he might even like a little bit of movement, but what he's getting off your filter is just gonna freak him out
plus I would imagine he'll find it hard to eat if the surface is always moving... his mouth turns up like that so he can pull his food from the surface - so that would be sorta like you trying to eat a bowl of soup on a carnival ride
Thanks for all the info and advice, you people rock. I'll take the salt out (extensive, well-documented and researched reasoning by the way - well done), though I did put it in there to help with the fin rot (which is getting worse, btw).
I'll pick up some Prime. I currently use Stress Coat. I didn't know there was water conditioner that neutralized the ammonia & nitrites in the water as well as de-chlorinated it. Does that defeat the nitrogen cycle though? I suppose not, or they'd be out of business.
I understand and appreciate the input about the filter - I just can't let it go yet. Besides, found out last night that he enjoys it or at least it seems that way. I spent about a half hour or more observing him and realized that he wasn't flaring his gills and trying to breathe fresh water from the filter like I had originally thought. He was actually swimming back and forth through the current. Seemed like he was just havin' fun. Plus I slowed it down with the soda bottle, so it doesn't knock him all over anymore.
He gets to his food fine, though it does spin away or sink sometimes when he's not paying attention. He's pretty spastic when he gets fed. Eventually I'll just break down and buy an adjustable filter - but for now I've spent enough money on one fish (aside from picking up the Prime of course).
I would buy one now if it meant his life or death but I really don't think it does. Thanks again for all your help. I'll do a water change with Prime tonight and going forward. Until the tank cycles and I don't need to use it anymore I'm guessing? Then go back to Stress Coat?
Also, the java ferns are starting to spread their roots a bit and I noticed some white fuzz on one of the roots on top of the drift wood - like the consistency of the spores dandelions give off in the Spring - should I get worried yet?
Thanks again. This forum is exactly what I wanted/needed - info, info and more info.
Oh yeah - recommendations on floating plants? Should I add Java moss as well to the driftwood or something like that? And my gravel "vaccuum" is just a crappy siphon that doesn't really vaccuum anything and is difficult to get started by following the directions - any recommendations for something better? I feel like I don't get enough debris out when I do a water change.
I know it needs to be there for the nitrogen cycle but I want to remove the larger plant debris with more efficiency if possible.
Prime detoxifies by binding the nitrite and nitrate somehow, they explain this on their website, but it is still available to the bacteria (the nitrite that is). Ammonia is changed to ammonium which is also used by the bacteria (or plants). Once things are settled, a water conditioner that does what is needed is best, that depends upon your tap water; most has chlorine and possibly chloramine, and maybe some heavy metals, so a conditioner that handles these will work.
There are manual water changers that you can get at fish stores, can't remember the name, someone will know. That and a bucket will do the job.
For a new filter I would also suggest a sponge, hooked up to a small air pump. That is all you need in a 20g with plants. I use a sponge in my 20g and 33g, they are too small for the expense of a canister filter.
Floating plant like Water Sprite is ideal, its in our profiles.
Thanks B. Appreciate the info so very much. Did a big (40%) water change about an hour and a half ago, will test again in a bit. Ran out of money so Prime will have to wait until tomorrow when I get paid. Small hole in his fin turned into a ragged tear.
Removed the aquarium salt as advised (had it in a container with holes in the lid). Just test and hope another day won't hurt him more. Btw, your planted tanks look amazing. One step at a time for me at this stage but that's a goal worth trying for eventually. Thanks again, I've become quite attached to this Betta and all of your advice and help means a lot.
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