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Ogre44 12-17-2011 09:11 AM

My whole tank seems to have gone wrong
1. Size of tank? 20 Gallon Tall

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? Unknown
b. Nitrite? 0 according to my LFS
c. Nitrate? Unknown
d. pH, KH and GH? 7.5 for pH
e. Test kit?

3. Temperature?79

4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)? Freshwater

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? 3-4 weeks

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?
1 Male Betta-less than 2 inches
1 BN Pleco-Approx 2 inches

7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)? No

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? Live Plants, 1 Argentinian Sword, 4 Anubais, 1 Banana Plant, Several Anacharis stems, Several Cabomba Stems, Lots of Java Fern and Java Moss
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? 2-3 inches of Small Gravel
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? Several Stones and a large piece of Grapewood

9. a. Filtration? Penguin 200 Biowheel, now with added airstone
b. Heater? Yes

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? Zoomed 15 Watt Sun bulb, 10 hours per day
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? indirect

11. a. Water change schedule? 2 X a week
b. Volume of water changed? Around 20% per change
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? Tap Water
d. Water conditioner used? Aqueon Water Conditioner
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? Every time along the front, lightly along the back/sides

12. Foods? Bettamin Flakes, Aqueon Betta Pellets, Omega One Veggie Rounds, Cucumber
How often are they fed? Betta twice a day, Pleco every other day

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? Betta stuck at top of tank,not defecating. Pleco not eating/defecating, hanging out by the filter and in the stream of bubbles from the airstone, very skittish
b. Appearance of poop? Couldn't find any
c. Appearance of gills? Seem fine

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? Betta is in Hospital Tank with 2 teaspoons Epsom Salt per gallon
b. What meds were used? Epsom Salt for Betta
15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.

Read more:

My tank has quite a few plants and only a couple of fish, one Betta and one BN Pleco.
I have been doing twice weekly water changes on the advice of my LFS owner as my Nitrites have been slightly elevated.

I did my water change last Saturday and by Monday evening I had a bacterial bloom going on. I didn't worry about it overly much as I had one when I first set up the tank and it passed quickly with no adverse effects. I dropped in an Algea Wafer after feeding the Betta, the Pleco ate some of it, and the Betta was picking at it. It is also possible that the Betta was overfed this evening, not sure though.

On Tuesday I thought both the fish were a little off, the Betta swimming a little strangely and the Pleco much more skittish than usual. But I could not confirm as every time I tried to study behavior the Betta would swim as usual. The bacterial bloom seemed much reduced at this time. I also did my mid-week water change this evening.
Also went through the tank very thoroughly removing every bit of dead plant material I could find, did a heavy vacuuming of the substrate as it was suggested that the elevated Nitrites might be from excess plant material decaying in the tank, The Cabombas did have a few dead leaves on them.

When I got home on Wednesday the Betta was stuck at the top of the tank and could only swim down with great effort. The Pleco also seemed quieter than usual. After doing research I determined the Betta to have a Swim Bladder issue, so put him into a hospital tank with Aquarium salt. (I know it should have been Epsom salt, I read it wrong.) The Betta began fasting

Thursday I determined that I had the wrong salts in the hospital tank and got the Epsom salts. I also began to worry slightly about the Pleco. I dropped in a Veggie Round to try and draw the Pleco out, but had no luck.
Betta still Fasting

Friday the Betta still hadn't defecated, so I fed him a tiny amount of Brine Shrimp.
I also noticed that the Pleco hadn't touched the Veggie round and was glued to the tank right behind the filter output. Coupled with his lethargic behavior I thought it might indicate Nitrite poisoning due to previous Nitrite issues. Research suggested that I might not have enough gas exchange in my tank as I had my filter heavily baffled for the Betta. Baffles
removed, airstone added.
Took some water to the LFS and was told my Nitrites were 0.

Today. Water is quite clear, only a tiny bit of haze remains.
Betta is still in quarantine, hasn't defecated. Is swimming better, but seems to hang at the top of the tank or sit on the bottom quite a bit. Added a silk plant to hide in, still seems quite unhappy. Sometimes seems to give a sideways "hop" when swimming like something touched him. Has flared at his reflection a couple of times.
Did my water change, and the pleco sat in plain site for a bit during it (he usually hides) he wasn't eating though. I found NO feces during the vacuuming. I last vacuumed on Tuesday so I would normally have quite a bit as cleaning up after the pleco is like cleaning up after a herd of pigs. I added a slice of cucumber to the tank, and it's seen no action where it would normally have a BN pleco stuck to it as soon as it hit the water.

My main decoration in the tank is a large piece of grapewood. I soaked it for a couple of days per the other fish store and put it in my tank when I first set it up. It grew a very thick (we're talking more than an inch) of white film on it that turned the entire tank cloudy.
I removed it an boiled it for literally two days. It was too big to fit all the way in my turkey fryer so I boiled one end for about 6 hours one day, and the other for about 8 hours the next day.
I put it back in the tank, and got a small bacterial bloom and a very thin coating of the white film which slowly reduced over time.
After this most recent bloom the film came back even thicker, and grew back onto places where it had gone away.
The increase in current from the removal of the baffles seems to have reduced the film somewhat.

I am at a loss as to what happened to my tank.
My happy cheery Betta seems quite listless and depressed, although he is alone in a tiny 2 gallon tank with nothing to do and a reduced food allowance.
My relentless eating machine of a pleco is hiding all the time and ignoring his favorite junk foods.
All the plants are a nice dark green and the water appears quite clear.

Any help or insight at all would be greatly appreciated.

GwenInNM 12-17-2011 09:32 AM

I'm only guessing, but my guess is on nitrites. If the LFS is using the test strips they may not be accurate. I think you're doing well by keeping up with frequent water changes. Keep doing that, and buy a liquid test kit for ammonia and nitrites and see what you have with those.

I wish you luck. Frustrating it can be


Ogre44 12-17-2011 09:36 AM

No, they use the drops into the little test tubes.

The pleco is hanging out directly in the stream of bubbles from the airstone and looks very pale.
His stomach is also very thin.

GwenInNM 12-17-2011 09:42 AM


Originally Posted by Ogre44 (Post 923576)
No, they use the drops into the little test tubes.

The pleco is hanging out directly in the stream of bubbles from the airstone and looks very pale.
His stomach is also very thin.

Sad. It seems you've got everything going right. Lots of plants like you have should be helping. Perhaps the pleco already had something like parasites when you bought him? I have no clue, but it doesn't sound good :(

Byron 12-17-2011 10:22 AM

Remove that wood immediately, and do a major water change, 3/4 of the tank.

The white fungus on the grapewood is highly toxic. I had exactly the same issue with a piece I bought. I thought it was Mopani wood, stores label these things differently, but I believe it is also called grapewood. The white fungus appeared, water got cloudy, and my corys were the first fish to show discomfort. I pulled the wood out, did a 75% water change, and the fish were back to normal. After scrubbing the wood under very hot water, i put it in a fish-less tank for a couple months; no sign of fungus, so I put it in another tank with fish. After a few weeks, fish began to die and I spotted white fungus on the back side of the wood. It is now out in the garden. I know of others who also lost fish to this fungus from similar wood. The first symptoms were lethargy and rapid respiration.

Use a good conditioner with the water change, nothing else. Give the Betta a water change too, it is amazing how beneficial water changes can be. Epsom salt is likely not needed since I am certain the fungus was the issue. Clean water is the best medicine.


Ogre44 12-17-2011 10:27 AM

Pulling it out now.

Ogre44 12-17-2011 11:40 AM

OK, removed the log and did as close to a 100% water change as I could.
Also put a filter cartridge with carbon in the filter.
Pulled all the plants that were attached to the log and gave them a scrub as well.
The Pleco is in the hospital tank with the Betta and I think his color looks better.

Right now the plan is to let the tank run overnight, do another 100% change and then add the fish back in.
I'll do a 50% change on the hospital tank later today and another this evening.

If I wait a couple of weeks and then add other wood in the tank, what are the chances that it will develop this fungus as well?

Mikaila31 12-17-2011 12:29 PM

Yep I've also had issues with grapewood. Though I think mine might of been treated with something a bit extra. The piece I used was a cool looking hollow stump. I added it to a large mature tank and less then 24 hours later half my stock was dead. Biofilter was fine but the wood produced a ton of toxins very fast. My nitrite was off the scale. I did close to 100% water changes on that tank 3 times back to back before nitrite was in safe zone. After 48 hours of confusion I started suspecting the wood since it was starting to get slimy. I put it in a bin of water all by itself. It was producing both ammonia and nitrites in large amounts. Once it was removed, nitrite in the tank plummeted and the tank when back to normal very quickly.

Most wood is safe for the aquarium. Just avoid grapewood!

Byron 12-17-2011 04:16 PM

Mikaila, that was an even worse experience. One does have to be careful with wood. I had a large piece years ago that after several months began affecting the fish; not sure what type, it was reddish brown, almost like cedar, purchased from a reliable fish store too.

Ogre44, to answer your question, there is no absolute certainty with any wood. Buying it in a store should mean it is safe, but as a professional biologist once told me, we have no idea what it may have picked up wherever it originated. I avoid the lighter woods like grapewood and mopani wood, since both have been known to develop toxic fungi. I have never had an issue with the dark brown Malaysian driftwood, ironwood, jetti wood...whatever this wood may be called (I think this is much the same stuff).

The carbon in the filter is good for something like this. It (the carbon) will likely be exhausted after a couple weeks, so it can then be removed.


thekoimaiden 12-17-2011 10:01 PM

Okay, Byron, your last post has me worried. I recently put a piece of driftwood that was advertised as mopani. It looks pretty dark and said "safe for aquariums". I also have some other driftwood of unknown origin (might be lighter, can't really tell) in some other tanks. Should I err on the side of caution and remove it all? I haven't seen any disturbances thus far, and I did boil the smaller pieces before I added them.

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