I Still Don’t Get It

Starflyr3

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Ok, so I have the 2 10 gallon tanks with 1 Betta each. 1 cycled with fish in (still having issues) and 1 done with fishless cycle.

My tap is 0/0/5 with a pH of 8.2 (checked again yesterday)

Tank 1: Fish in tank, cycling since early May:
As of yesterday:
0.5/0/0, 8.2, 80F

If I add TSS I’ll get nitrAtes for a few days, but zero nitrItes. but the ammonia won’t change. It also doesn’t change if I do water changes. I’m using Prime daily, even if it’s not a water change day to protect him from the ammonia, bc at that pH it is all ammonia and not ammonium. I am doing 50% water changes 2-3x a week (I did every day for 6 weeks).

1 large and 3 small moss balls. He gets 2-3 pellets twice a day.

Tank 2 (fishless cycled to 2 ppm, now with fish in for 12 days).

0/0/0. 8.2-8.4, 80F.
1 large and 3 small moss balls also.

Where is the nitrate going? And what is up with the ammonia in the fish in tank? It had gone completely away, and now is back and persistent.

I haven’t given meds, I haven’t messed with the media. I gravel vacuum.
 

pagoda

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What are you feeding, and how much are you feeding the Betta?

Cos "normally" ammonia will only usually rise if there is a sudden or persistent amount of waste in the water....ie...poo & pee, rotten plants or a dead body etc

One fish wouldn't normally spike the ammonia unless maybe being over fed....or the number of water changes is unbalancing the good stuff in the water and its not able to stabilise so effectively with so many water changes combined with too much munchies and the waste is kicking of the cycle constantly instead of letting it cycle naturally

When I get spikes of ammonia I counter it by adding Evolution Aqua Pure Aquarium balls which are natural gel balls filled with the good stuff that boost the healthy side of things and neutralise the bad
 
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Starflyr3

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There are a couple small almond leaves in there that are kind of icky; would that be enough??

And they each get 2-3 pellets twice daily. The big one gets the aqueon ones, the little one gets the fluval bug bites
 

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The leaves might well be giving off decay which would bring the ammonia up a little, try feeding once a day....the trouble with fish is they will eat even when not hungry, so try once a day feeds cos what goes in has to come back out the other end and that all adds to the waste that is broken down in the water which in turn will spike

Get rid of the leaves, replace them if wanted, gradually drop a feed and try that for a few days, give the good stuff in the water a chance cos the more you change it the weaker the good stuff will become and it will not be so effective in combatting the bad stuff
 

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Your second tank may actually just be done cycling. Bettas have a surprisingly small bioload for their size, in a 10 gallon a single betta is not really able to keep a cycle going by itself, or so I have heard others say who have had this set-up. If you are not seeing any nitrates it could be because your cycle is gone, but more likely, your cycle is very minimal and the trace amounts of nitrates that get produced is removed with your frequent water changes before they get to a level where you can measure them.

As for the first tank, if you have been observing this effect with TSS for a while it appears that the bacteria simply won't ground in your tank, as you only see the effect of the bottled bacteria for a few days and then your cycle vanishes. I am not sure why that is tbh.
 
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Starflyr3

Starflyr3

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PascalKrypt said:
Your second tank may actually just be done cycling. Bettas have a surprisingly small bioload for their size, in a 10 gallon a single betta is not really able to keep a cycle going by itself, or so I have heard others say who have had this set-up. If you are not seeing any nitrates it could be because your cycle is gone, but more likely, your cycle is very minimal and the trace amounts of nitrates that get produced is removed with your frequent water changes before they get to a level where you can measure them.

As for the first tank, if you have been observing this effect with TSS for a while it appears that the bacteria simply won't ground in your tank, as you only see the effect of the bottled bacteria for a few days and then your cycle vanishes. I am not sure why that is tbh.

Right, but my tap has baseline nitrates as well, and they disappear also, which is why I’m confused
 

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Starflyr3 said:
Right, but my tap has baseline nitrates as well, and they disappear also, which is why I’m confused
If you are using the API kit, it could be a problem with your testing. The nitrate test is quite notorious for needing to be shaken vigorously for a solid amount of time or it will read 0 even though there are nitrates present. Or you could have a faulty kit.
Only other option is live plants.. those moss ball should not affects your nitrate levels.
 

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Something I use is two Fluval Moss Balls, they help deal with the bad stuff that is lurking in the water

The Fluval version moss ball is furry (my fish love rubbing themseoves against the fur and they play finball with them too cos each morning they are somewhere new in the aquarium, they help create ideal aquarium conditions for small fish and shrimp by adsorbing and trapping phosphate and nitrite. It also helps reduce aquarium maintenance by deterring the growth of many of the compounds that cause the unsightly buildup of organic matter. They last 2 months and then you replace them
 
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Starflyr3

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PascalKrypt said:
If you are using the API kit, it could be a problem with your testing. The nitrate test is quite notorious for needing to be shaken vigorously for a solid amount of time or it will read 0 even though there are nitrates present. Or you could have a faulty kit.
Only other option is live plants.. those moss ball should not affects your nitrate levels.
I am using the API kit. I set a timer for 60 seconds to make sure I shake/bang/etc the 2nd nitrate bottle, and another 60s for the tube shaking after adding #2. I actually now have tennis elbow from it (I don’t play tennis), so I’m having to brace my arms against stuff now to keep it from hurting.

I’ve done side by side testing and still gotten nitrates in the tap but not the tanks using same bottle (switching from 1 tube to another immediately), I’ve done it in different orders (tap-1-2. 1-tap-2, 1-2-tap etc), and this is the 2nd test kit in 2 months b/c of the daily testing.

I’ve been trying to eliminate the variables, but am still stumped.
 
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Starflyr3

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pagoda said:
Something I use is two Fluval Moss Balls, they help deal with the bad stuff that is lurking in the water

The Fluval version moss ball is furry (my fish love rubbing themseoves against the fur and they play finball with them too cos each morning they are somewhere new in the aquarium, they help create ideal aquarium conditions for small fish and shrimp by adsorbing and trapping phosphate and nitrite. It also helps reduce aquarium maintenance by deterring the growth of many of the compounds that cause the unsightly buildup of organic matter. They last 2 months and then you replace them
Those sound neat. Not sure how they would help, since I have no nitrites/nitrates...? Do they help with persistent low level ammonia? I can’t get those down in my first tank, though they were gone for awhile, they came back despite a nice, icky filter. They stay even after I add TSS, which makes the nitrates go up as high as 20 for a couple days after adding it, but doesn’t do a blessed thing for the ammonia. I add Prime daily to help keep the fish safe, but it stays up in tank 1 whether or not I do water changes.

I think it started/got worse when I moved the tank downstairs. But it’s been several weeks since then.
 

pagoda

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I use these, and as one of nature's greatest sceptics I was not sure that they would work, but they definitely do

Its a gel ball that disolves to let loose all the friendly stuff needed to sort out the ammonia, nitrates, nitrites the whole water quality issue

I add 4 or 5 after every water change so that although new water the biological balance is in no way diluted or weakened, you can drop them into the water or add to the filter box

I have used them for 6 weeks and will be using them to cycle the second aquarium next week, have a good read on the write up about them, they are 100% natural, no chemicals whatsoever....this sceptic is impressed and I do not impress easily



They have taken the headache right out of fishkeeping for me and I see no reason why they wouldn't work for you Star cos my fish are thriving and some of them had a pretty rough start
 

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What sort of media do you have in the filter? If it is matrix then you may have de-nitrifying bacteria present.

I have also read (but don't know how correct it is) that if there is not enough ammonia present that the nitrifying bacteria can actually switch to eating nitrates, but in your case it sounds like you have stubborn ammonia, so that doesn't sound like it would apply.

It certainly seems something odd is happening...

Tony.
 
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Starflyr3

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wintermute said:
What sort of media do you have in the filter? If it is matrix then you may have de-nitrifying bacteria present.

I have also read (but don't know how correct it is) that if there is not enough ammonia present that the nitrifying bacteria can actually switch to eating nitrates, but in your case it sounds like you have stubborn ammonia, so that doesn't sound like it would apply.

It certainly seems something odd is happening...

Tony.
A combo of an intake cover sponge, Fluval filter sponge, and Fluval water polishing pad.

I stole a bit of filter sponge from the tank without the ammonia issue yesterday, maybe it will help?

Also, there is some sheet like white stuff that gets kicked up when I do a water change. Could that be algae or fungus, and would that make a difference? It’s in both tanks...
 

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So it is definitely not your test that is off. This is weird indeed..
Is the 'sheet' on top of the water? That is a biofilm, it happens when you do not have enough agitation of the water surface from filter or air pumps. It shouldn't make a difference for your readings though. Unless it is on your substrate, that is a different story.
Though whether you have algae or fungus or not, all of that should not affect the bacteria that make up the cycle. They can live and function in very dirty, overgrown tanks without any trouble as long as the PH doesn't drop to 4 or so. On the flip side they can even grow and live in bare, unfiltered tanks (though with very limited capacity).
However, algae do grow by feeding on nitrates. So it is possible that this is where your nitrates are disappearing to. How much nitrates are in your tap water? Maybe try testing your tank every hour after a water change to see how fast they disappear. If algae are the culprit, they should only be active while your lights are on, if I'm not mistaken.
But you should still have seen a nitrite spike in the 8 weeks of cycling regardless if you tested often enough. The bacteria that turn nitrite into nitrate also need time to grow, and so for at least some days after the nitrifying bacteria have grown (ammonia -> nitrites) you should have seen nitrite present. If you haven't, the most logical conclusion is that you still do no have nitrifying bacteria, which after 8 weeks is a little mystifying if you do constantly have ammonia present...
Did you have ammonia levels of .5 and over every day for those 8 weeks?

Maybe get something, some substrate or moss balls, from your tank that appears cycled and plop it in the uncycled tank. That might help kickstart things.
 
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Starflyr3

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PascalKrypt said:
So it is definitely not your test that is off. This is weird indeed..
Is the 'sheet' on top of the water? That is a biofilm, it happens when you do not have enough agitation of the water surface from filter or air pumps. It shouldn't make a difference for your readings though. Unless it is on your substrate, that is a different story.
Though whether you have algae or fungus or not, all of that should not affect the bacteria that make up the cycle. They can live and function in very dirty, overgrown tanks without any trouble as long as the PH doesn't drop to 4 or so. On the flip side they can even grow and live in bare, unfiltered tanks (though with very limited capacity).
However, algae do grow by feeding on nitrates. So it is possible that this is where your nitrates are disappearing to. How much nitrates are in your tap water? Maybe try testing your tank every hour after a water change to see how fast they disappear. If algae are the culprit, they should only be active while your lights are on, if I'm not mistaken.
But you should still have seen a nitrite spike in the 8 weeks of cycling regardless if you tested often enough. The bacteria that turn nitrite into nitrate also need time to grow, and so for at least some days after the nitrifying bacteria have grown (ammonia -> nitrites) you should have seen nitrite present. If you haven't, the most logical conclusion is that you still do no have nitrifying bacteria, which after 8 weeks is a little mystifying if you do constantly have ammonia present...
Did you have ammonia levels of .5 and over every day for those 8 weeks?

Maybe get something, some substrate or moss balls, from your tank that appears cycled and plop it in the uncycled tank. That might help kickstart things.
I had nitrites for about 2 days back in May in the fish-in tank. The fishless cycled one never had them, but could process ammonia 2ppm out in 24 hours before I put a fish in.

The tap has 5 ppm nitrites.

And the white stuff is in the gravel and in the intake sponges, it gets stirred up with water changes, despite gravel filtering. I have some biofilm in the fish in cycled tank because he is a halfmoon and gets blown all over the tank by any current at all. I changed it back from a foam baffle to a mechanical one (triceratops skull decoration - see pic) in the one with the halfmoon on Sunday, and the biofilm is less. The other one is a plakat and is doing ok with filter flow.

I’ve tried to get a pic of the white stuff, but it just looks cloudy on my phone. It’s like a thin membrane, at least on the bigger pieces. It started in the new tank after I added TSS and hasn’t gone away yet.
 

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PascalKrypt

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Starflyr3 said:
I had nitrites for about 2 days back in May in the fish-in tank. The fishless cycled one never had them, but could process ammonia 2ppm out in 24 hours before I put a fish in.

The tap has 5 ppm nitrites.

And the white stuff is in the gravel and in the intake sponges, it gets stirred up with water changes, despite gravel filtering. I have some biofilm in the fish in cycled tank because he is a halfmoon and gets blown all over the tank by any current at all. I changed it back from a foam baffle to a mechanical one (triceratops skull decoration - see pic) in the one with the halfmoon on Sunday, and the biofilm is less. The other one is a plakat and is doing ok with filter flow.

I’ve tried to get a pic of the white stuff, but it just looks cloudy on my phone. It’s like a thin membrane, at least on the bigger pieces. It started in the new tank after I added TSS and hasn’t gone away yet.
Ooh, I think what you are referring to is a thin milky film that sometimes forms on new items put in the tank (or just anything if your tank is new). It is some kind of bacterial or fungal layer, I usually get it on newly added wood. It isn't a problem, though it could be a constant source of ammonia in your tank (it is a sign of organic decay, probably something organic contaminated your inert substrate/decorations before being put in your tank). It will usually go away on its own after a few days to two weeks, it gets eaten by microscopic life in your tank that multiplies on its own. How long have you had it? Because if it has been there a while, this may be your culprit.

Did you mean that your tap has 5 ppm nitrates or did you actually mean nitrites?
Is there any way you could get a food-safe container of 1 - 2 gallons that will fit a heater and could hold your betta for a day or two? Because there are several things that could be going on in the tank, and you would need to change your water changing routine or up ammonia levels to figure out what it is. But in your current set-up you can't because the betta is in there and your PH is so high.
 
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PascalKrypt said:
Ooh, I think what you are referring to is a thin milky film that sometimes forms on new items put in the tank (or just anything if your tank is new). It is some kind of bacterial or fungal layer, I usually get it on newly added wood. It isn't a problem, though it could be a constant source of ammonia in your tank (it is a sign of organic decay, probably something organic contaminated your inert substrate/decorations before being put in your tank). It will usually go away on its own after a few days to two weeks, it gets eaten by microscopic life in your tank that multiplies on its own. How long have you had it? Because if it has been there a while, this may be your culprit.

Did you mean that your tap has 5 ppm nitrates or did you actually mean nitrites?
Is there any way you could get a food-safe container of 1 - 2 gallons that will fit a heater and could hold your betta for a day or two? Because there are several things that could be going on in the tank, and you would need to change your water changing routine or up ammonia levels to figure out what it is. But in your current set-up you can't because the betta is in there and your PH is so high.
I have had this tank since late April. Before that, I was the typical clueless Betta owner for about a year. He was in an unheated, filtered 2.5 gallon tank, and I changed the filter whenever it got gross. Then he got fin rot, and I realized what a bad job is been doing. Some of his decorations came over with him, but not the gravel and not the filter (I had already tossed it, as it was leaking like crazy). That’s why his fins are raggedy.

I put
almond leaves (the small ones)in to help with tannins. I fished as many out as I could Over the last couple of weeks, but there may be a couple still left.
 

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Starflyr3 said:
I have had this tank since late April. Before that, I was the typical clueless Betta owner for about a year. He was in an unheated, filtered 2.5 gallon tank, and I changed the filter whenever it got gross. Then he got fin rot, and I realized what a bad job is been doing. Some of his decorations came over with him, but not the gravel and not the filter (I had already tossed it, as it was leaking like crazy). That’s why his fins are raggedy.

I put almond leaves (the small ones)in to help with tannins. I fished as many out as I could Over the last couple of weeks, but there may be a couple still left.
If they are indian almond leaves from a fish store, those should not rot - in fact any properly dried leaf should not decay in a manner that produces the soft, mushy kind of rot you would see from tossing fresh produce or fish food in your tank, nor should it cause your ammonia to spike. I have huge dried oak leaves in a 3 gallon that houses a betta, it doesn't do anything to the cycle.

Did you rinse the gravel thoroughly before putting it in the tank?
 
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Starflyr3

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PascalKrypt said:
If they are indian almond leaves from a fish store, those should not rot - in fact any properly dried leaf should not decay in a manner that produces the soft, mushy kind of rot you would see from tossing fresh produce or fish food in your tank, nor should it cause your ammonia to spike. I have huge dried oak leaves in a 3 gallon that houses a betta, it doesn't do anything to the cycle.

Did you rinse the gravel thoroughly before putting it in the tank?
Yes, I did. I got the leaves off Amazon, small catapa (however you spell it) leaves. The ones I’ve found have definitely started rotting. Since they’re small, they’re kind of hard to find .

Oh, and it’s definitely nitrAtes that are in my tap.

This is tap:

64182C83-B228-4EF6-9A41-B1C2DEAB004D.jpeg


This was the stubborn tank on 5/23, the last/only couple of days I got nitrItes:

835FE9BB-6B60-4680-9997-AD8F2D0C61EA.jpeg


This is yesterday:

3A2302CE-3720-4618-B7B4-C6F907E5DADB.jpeg


I have a spreadsheet, it’s hard to put in a post, though. I have to transcribe the last couple of weeks from my phone, but I can at least summarize sometime tonight. I put new tank filter in last night, so hopefully that will make a difference?

Heading home now.
 

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Is it just the photos or is the PH in your tank higher than your tap water? That is kind of odd, I've seen PH drop plenty of times but raising it accidentally is a bit more unusual.

Is the filter brand new? At this point I would just stick your filter in your cycled tank, let it sit for a week and then transfer it. Whatever it is about your tank that does not want to cycle should be bypassed this way. And if your cycle dies instantly we'll know that something in your tank is actively killing it.

For now I would stop adding TSS as clearly it isn't working (and for any chemical used there is always a possibility they react in an odd way with something in your tank/water). I'm assuming that you are vacuuming or removing uneaten food? Take some time to do a thorough cleaning of your tank, removing anything (including the catappa leaves) that looks like it is rotting. I also suggest removing the moss balls and putting them in a small bowl of tank water. Maybe do the same with the silk plants if they look like there is a film or something on them. The best way forward is probably elimination, let's find what is causing the ammonia by just removing anything that could be causing it and testing the tank until you find 0 ammonia (going without ammonia for a day won't kill your cycle if there is one in there).
Upon re-reading the entire thread I am starting to think that since adding TSS gives you a nitrate reading but not a nitrite one, that perhaps you have a functioning cycle in there but 1. something else is constantly leaching ammonia into your water at a higher rate than your cycle can handle and 2. something mysterious is eating your nitrates over the course of several days. It is possible something that is normally feeding on another nitrogen source is starved and breaks down your nitrates.. it happens sometimes with plants, they can actually break down ammonia and nitrite to an extent if they are starved of nitrates and need a nitrogen source.
 

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