Problem with 5 gallon betta tank and substrate

bored411
  • #1
So, I've got a situation I need opinions on. I've got a 5 gallon betta tank (had a nerite in it as well, but it died just this morning) and for the last month I've had issues with seed shrimp and extra debris sitting around. The substrate is fluval stratum and I mostly blamed the nerite for pooping so much. I believe it's been falling between the stratum bits and despite my desperate attempts to vacuum up the debris by blowing it up with a turkey baster every week with my water change, it keeps coming back along with the seed shrimp. Initially, it was my fault because the seiryu stone were set up in a way where there was a large gap between them where debris was getting stuck and sitting. I've since filled it with filter floss but am still having issues.

I'm considering removing the side casing where the filter is (my hands struggle to get in there to remove my added sponge, carbon, and ceramic rings anyway) and replacing it and its filter with an internal one. I also want to remove all the substrate, give it a thorough rinsing, and put it back before capping it with sand to help me see any debris better and prevent debris from falling down where it's harder to get to. I know this could screw up my cycle and am willing to deal with that accordingly, but I feel like this will help the tank be less maintenance than it is right now, given I'm refilling it 3-4 times during a water change to try and vacuum out debris to no avail.

And yes, my betta has a lump. Not sure what to do about that as he's as active as ever and it doesn't seem to bother him. There's also a lot of plants in there but I do plan on removing some to put in another tank (though if I took out the filter casing area I'll have more room). I just left them in there in the hopes they would take any extra nutrients and give the betta more places to relax since he likes laying on leaves.
 

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BigManAquatics
  • #2
Sounds like a tumor or cyst on the betta, not much you can do besides remove it. They can usually go a long while with them. The seed shrimp you are pretty much stuck with. Can vac them up to keep in check but they will probably always be there unless you make the tank completely unlivable for pretty much anything.
 
bored411
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Sounds like a tumor or cyst on the betta, not much you can do besides remove it. They can usually go a long while with them. The seed shrimp you are pretty much stuck with. Can vac them up to keep in check but they will probably always be there unless you make the tank completely unlivable for pretty much anything.
I don't mind the seed shrimp so much as I mind the constant cloud of debris that comes up from the substrate every time I try to do anything with the tank. I'm having the same issue in my 10 gallon and am considering doing the same thing (remove everything, give it a good rinse, replace it and cap it). And removing the filter casing and getting an internal one is just easier for me maintenance-wise since I'm struggling to deal with stuff in there too.
 
BigManAquatics
  • #4
That will work for a bit, but as long as you have a substrate and living things, you will most likely have debris.
 
bored411
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
That will work for a bit, but as long as you have a substrate and living things, you will most likely have debris.
I'm fine with that, but this is like.... a lot of debris. Consistently a lot. I have layers of it between my substrate. I can't put my hand in the tank without a cloud of it popping up from who-knows-where. I've got two other tanks that are capped with sand and they're not having this issue, which is why I'm considering this. I've also had my betta in a sand-only tank before this and didn't have a problem cleaning up the debris. I don't mind cleaning but I do mind excessive amounts of cleaning that can be prevented. It shouldn't take me an hour to do a water change on a 5-gallon tank with one betta in it, you know?
 
BlackOsprey
  • #6
Fluval stratum is soil. Soil is just larger clumps of debris. You use stratum, you'll have a lot of debris. Using a gravel vac on it will make it worse, since the vac will just break up the soil clumps and create even MORE little debris bits. The nutrients in the fluval stratum also feed microbial growth, which in turn nourishes larger fauna like seed shrimp, creating more mulm. There's no point in trying to get rid of it unless you either cap the soil with sand/gravel, or trash it entirely.

Oh, and those seed shrimp are there to stay. There's really no getting rid of them. Fortunately they don't really do anything bad.
 
bored411
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Fluval stratum is soil. Soil is just larger clumps of debris. You use stratum, you'll have a lot of debris. Using a gravel vac on it will make it worse, since the vac will just break up the soil clumps and create even MORE little debris bits. The nutrients in the fluval stratum also feed microbial growth, which in turn nourishes larger fauna like seed shrimp, creating more mulm. There's no point in trying to get rid of it unless you either cap the soil with sand/gravel, or trash it entirely.

Oh, and those seed shrimp are there to stay. There's really no getting rid of them. Fortunately they don't really do anything bad.
I'm hoping to rinse any excess debris off and put it back in, then cap it with sand. Don't mind the seed shrimp, just hate that doing anything in the tank brings up a swirl of debris.
 
bored411
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Tank substrate was redone today using a method MD Fishtanks from YouTube uses. It's got gravel on the bottom, the same stratum that was in the tank (rinsed lightly) packaged into mesh bags, and sand to cap it. Should've checked the depth before I started trying to put the dwarf sag back and adding sand on top of that kind of buried the smaller rocks so I'll need to add more, but it'll be cleaner and easier for me to clean up.

Only new thing in the tank is a spiderwood piece I had and the HOB filter (I removed the internal filter and it's casing as I didn't like how unadjustable the flow was, the lack of space, and how hard it was to fit my hand in). It's a bit chaotic with the plants but I didn't want to attempt tearing off glued on moss to the new piece of wood and just scattered the smaller wood bits around to cover up gaps between the rocks. My betta Pep likes it though, so that's what matters :D

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