One Month With Betta, Suddenly No Nitrites/nitrates

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Moosefish

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Hello everyone! I am new to this forum and am pretty perplexed about what is going on with my cycle! I am not sure if I submitted this to the right forum, so please forgive me.

This is my first fish, and basically, here is a run down of what I have been doing, my equipment, my fish, my parameters, etc...

Two months ago I started fishless cycling a completely new 5 gallon Marineland Portrait tank setup using a few drops of Ammonia from a bottle (ACE janitorial ammonia) and some bottled Bacteria (seachem stability). The equipment I have for the tank is just a 50 watt heater (which I believe is too much for this tank but I live in California so the water stays a pretty constant 78 degrees without it) some gravel, one decoration, a couple of river rocks, two bunches of Java Fern (healthy and thriving), two bunches of anubias berterI (also thriving) and the cartridges, pump, and light the tank came with.

About three weeks after starting the cycle (would have been faster but I overdosed ammonia when redosing to see how fast it would convert to Nitrate, which killed my cycle and I had to start over again) My tank fully cycled and processed ammonia>nitrite>nitrate and then I did this twice within two days was getting 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite (I was skipping this step completely throughout the entire process, ammonia went straight to nitrate), and about 10-15 ppm of Nitrate. Fully cycled, no problems.

I bought a betta fish at this point, just a single male betta, no tank mates. It's been about a month now with the betta doing really well! But basically my question is this....

The first few weeks of the betta being in his new home, constant 80 degrees at the time due to using the heater, the cycle was working exactly as it had been. My tap water naturally has .25 ppm of ammonia so I use Seachem Prime when I do half gallon water changes every Saturday.

I test the water, the day of a water change it has .25 ppm due to the tap water, at night that converts to 0 ppm when I test a second time, so everything is working. The first two weeks of this process I was noticing that when it was time for a water change, ammonia would be 0, nitrite 0, and around 5ppm of Nitrate, so I would do the water change and it would bring it down to 0 nitrate and .25 ammonia due to my tap water. Normal, didn't think much of it.

Recently this has been changing... Now when I do a water change, ammonia converts to 0 ppm as usual, but no matter how many times during the week I test nitrate, it reads 0. 0 ammonia, zero, nitrite, 0 nitrate, once in a while the fish will poop, the ammonia will go up to about .25 ppm but in a few hours the ammonia goes back down to 0, no problems.

What I am wondering is where are my nitrates? I still do weekly water changes regardless of being no readings on any of the tests (once in a while I will get .25 ammonia when the fish poops, but it quickly goes away within a few hours), but obviously something is going on here, not that I am complaining, since my fish is happy as a clam with such nice water conditions, but I'm just curious if it's possible to have a self cleaning tank that eats nitrates? I heard it's possible but I didn't really do anything for this to happen and I heard it's hard to have this happen.

If it helps, my PH is around 7.4, I have a lot of plants for a five gallon like I stated above, I don't use chemicals or anything other than Prime, I do get a little biofilm on the top of the water because of low flow filter which I clean daily with a hand made skimmer, and I have a very tiny bit of hair algae and the fungus you get on new wood, but that's about it! And I'm talking very small amounts.

Should I be concerned or do you think I just got lucky with this tank and somehow the bacteria is processing everything? Or am I doing something wrong? And yes, I do shake the nitrate bottles very well to break crystals.

What do you all think? Thanks in advance! I really hope someone can enlighten me on what's going on, even if it's just out of my own curiosity.
 
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Paradise fish

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Plants naturally take up nitrates, but your plants only being java fern and anubias I don't think they'll be taking up so much nitrates.

I'm guessing it's the Stability at work. If you look on the bottle, it'll say that it contains bacteria to reduce ammonia, nitrites, AND nitrates. That is because Stability contains harmless and beneficial anaerobic bacteria that uses nitrates as food. My guess is that there's enough beneficial anaerobic bacteria in your tank to process the nitrates as well. This is pretty common as your tank is only moderately stocked at best, as bettas need at least 2.5 gallons and you also have plants.to do additional filtration.

Seachem Stability is literally the best and I wish more people who are just getting into the hobby knows about it. That'll save us a lot of explaining and a lot of fish from getting ill or dying from New Tank Syndrome. I'm glad you were smart enough to use it from the beginning. I can't say the same for me.

Wow, tap water with ammonia already?? That's crazy. I never had that happen.
 
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Moosefish

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Plants naturally take up nitrates, but your plants only being java fern and anubias I don't think they'll be taking up so much nitrates.

I'm guessing it's the Stability at work. If you look on the bottle, it'll say that it contains bacteria to reduce ammonia, nitrites, AND nitrates. That is because Stability contains harmless and beneficial anaerobic bacteria that uses nitrates as food. My guess is that there's enough beneficial anaerobic bacteria in your tank to process the nitrates as well. This is pretty common as your tank is only moderately stocked at best, as bettas need at least 2.5 gallons and you also have plants.to do additional filtration.

Seachem Stability is literally the best and I wish more people who are just getting into the hobby knows about it. That'll save us a lot of explaining and a lot of fish from getting ill or dying from New Tank Syndrome. I'm glad you were smart enough to use it from the beginning. I can't say the same for me.

Wow, tap water with ammonia already?? That's crazy. I never had that happen.
Oh! I guess that does make sense! I do once in a while put the recommended dose of stability directly into the filter backing on the tank every other week just to make sure it stays seeded, so that very well could be the case! And yes, where I live the tap water has .25 ppm ammonia in it straight from the tap, and only found out because I was doing water changes and was curious why after a water change it would still read ammonia for the first few hours. I heard that some cities put chemicals that leave trace amounts of ammonia in the water to control bacteria and other contaminates, which is part of the reason I don't like drinking tap water in LA

Thanks for the speedy response! I didn't even consider the anaerobic bacteria as a possibility.
 
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Paradise fish

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No problem! And you actually don't have to keep adding Stability now as you're basically just draining your money away. Once you stop using Stability you'll start to see nitrates in your reading. If you want to keep the anaerobic bacteria in your tank to remove nitrates, I recommend getting the Seachem Matrix. This is a type of bio media that houses anaerobic bacteria to keep removing nitrates in the water. Never used it myself because I have enough plants to handle the nitrates.

And with your tap water... Really?? That's gross...
 
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