Important Tank Is Dying

Terrormissu

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Hello! I need urgent help >.< I have a planted community betta sorority tank. The tank was doing great until a month or so ago. We replanted it due to all the plants failing to grow, and added potting soil to the bottom to help the plants root. The plants are doing amazing, so we let the tank cycle and readded the girls! (They’d been moved to a different tank while the plants were rooting). The only difference between when we took them out and put them back in was the soil under the gravel, a co2 system and the plants. We did add two more girls when we put them back though.
Now about half of them have died due to dropsy (? Raised scales, bloating, hovering at the top or bottom of the tank and refusing food) and I don’t know why!! I’ve tried to treat with kanaplex and ampicillin and Epsom salt baths in a hospital tank. Since the last one started showing symptoms I’ve moved them all into the hospital tank, and no one else has gotten sick. So it must be in the tank?? Please help!! I don’t know what to do!!

These are their stats: (they are in order just ignore the high ph) I’ve removed the co2 and the ph is back up to 7 now.

IMG_4407.JPG
 
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Terrormissu

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What potting soil did you use?
See I am not sure. I’m in charge of the fish and my friend who co-owns the tank did the plants and soil. She said that the soil should be fish safe but I have me doubts honestly? It IS fertilized potting soil, and it has weird little beads in it. I don’t know more about it or the brand. Do you think that is what’s wrong?
 

Sunflower

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I've been told not to add any potting soil that has ferts in it because it's not made for aquarium use and can cause ammonia spikes and kill your fish. Not sure if that's what caused the dropsy, though. I just wanted to add my .02 about the soil.
 
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Terrormissu

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I've been told not to add any potting soil that has ferts in it because it's not made for aquarium use and can cause ammonia spikes and kill your fish. Not sure if that's what caused the dropsy, though. I just wanted to add my .02 about the soil.
Thank you! I appreciate it!! Do you think I should just tear the whole tank down?
 

Sunflower

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Thank you! I appreciate it!! Do you think I should just tear the whole tank down?
I'm not experienced with dirted tanks (I just use gravel and root tabs, which is the best option IMO because once dirted tanks run out of nutrients you'll have to buy these anyways) but I would say yes, because the soil isn't meant to be in a tank. I'd wait for someone else with more experience to reply though before you redo it.

If you do redo it, just get some sand or gravel and Thrive root tabs and liquid ferts (the best from what I've seen and been told. I'm ordering these because of how successful everyone's tanks have been with them). Depending on how high maintenance the plants are, this should work for them. Would you mind asking your room mate what plants you have if you don't know?
 

dcutl002

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The recommended is/was Miracle Gro Organic Potting Soil. I am not sure if it is still made, but use an organic potting soil without fertilizer. (Even with the right potting soil, it has to cure/age with many water changes before adding fish).

The safest and quickest soil is Aquasoil, Controsoil, etc...
 

danhutchins

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Not sure who to tag on the fresh water side... Maybe one of you can help get some answers?
@Lorekeeper @Lchi87 @Culprit @stella1979
I have done dirted tanks before and my guess would be that the soil wasn't organic. I have added fish right after the soil as well with no deaths. I don't recommend it but if the filter is established than it shouldn't hurt anything just sift out the large pieces and toss it in the tank. I have also never dried it out but it is recommended to do so.

Hello! I need urgent help >.< I have a planted community betta sorority tank. The tank was doing great until a month or so ago. We replanted it due to all the plants failing to grow, and added potting soil to the bottom to help the plants root. The plants are doing amazing, so we let the tank cycle and readded the girls! (They’d been moved to a different tank while the plants were rooting). The only difference between when we took them out and put them back in was the soil under the gravel, a co2 system and the plants. We did add two more girls when we put them back though.
Now about half of them have died due to dropsy (? Raised scales, bloating, hovering at the top or bottom of the tank and refusing food) and I don’t know why!! I’ve tried to treat with kanaplex and ampicillin and Epsom salt baths in a hospital tank. Since the last one started showing symptoms I’ve moved them all into the hospital tank, and no one else has gotten sick. So it must be in the tank?? Please help!! I don’t know what to do!!

These are their stats: (they are in order just ignore the high ph) I’ve removed the co2 and the ph is back up to 7 now.

View attachment 510264
Oh, forgot to mention that you will want to top the soil with gravel as well.
 

BReefer97

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Just a heads up, even though is says organic - you want to double check that it doesn’t have any “natural” fertilizers or herbicides as well.
 
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Terrormissu

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I'm not experienced with dirted tanks (I just use gravel and root tabs, which is the best option IMO because once dirted tanks run out of nutrients you'll have to buy these anyways) but I would say yes, because the soil isn't meant to be in a tank. I'd wait for someone else with more experience to reply though before you redo it.

If you do redo it, just get some sand or gravel and Thrive root tabs and liquid ferts (the best from what I've seen and been told. I'm ordering these because of how successful everyone's tanks have been with them). Depending on how high maintenance the plants are, this should work for them. Would you mind asking your room mate what plants you have if you don't know?
She planted dwarf Sagittaria, an anubia and some hornwort, and broken up miss balls. She also already uses API root tabs and liquid fertilizer on top of that

The recommended is/was Miracle Gro Organic Potting Soil. I am not sure if it is still made, but use an organic potting soil without fertilizer. (Even with the right potting soil, it has to cure/age with many water changes before adding fish).

The safest and quickest soil is Aquasoil, Controsoil, etc...
Can you get aquasoil at local pet stores like big als? :O I might try that then!!
 

Lchi87

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I've never attempted a fully dirted tank but have done small pots before and never had issues. Agree with the others, it could be the wrong kind of soil. :/
 

Hunter1

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I have a couple of dirty tanks.

Couldn’t find the Miracle Gro kind so I used 2 different “organic “ potting mixes.

I also think the potting mix is the issue.
 

fa4960

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I went down the organic potting soil avenue and although it said organic there is something mine increasing both PH and Nitrates. Wouldn't even consider taking that route again unless I was living in a country where you can trust the packaging.

If it is not organic there is almost certainly macro nutrients in there not designed for aquaristic use, like e.g. N, P or K pellet fertilizers.

Now setting up another tank but this time with Amazonia Aquasoil - much more expensive but gives me peace of mind also....
 

Culprit

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Imo... If you don't mineralised the potting soil ahead of time (doesn't really matter which you use, I used a potting mix), it takes a long time to recycle and can be very prone to ammonia spikes out of nowhere. My dirted tank took over 3 months to fully cycle and mature.

I would say something stressed them out (e.g an ammonia spike), and that caused their immune systems to weakn allowing the disease to take them over.
 

Hunter1

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In both of my dirty tank, 2 different potting mixes, I added seeded sponge filters.

One was cycled in a day.

The other had ammonia at 8ppm. I was concerned that high of ammonia would kill the beneficial bacteria I added on the 4 sponges I added.

That one took 8 days.

Probably could have added a ton of fish with that colony of bacteria but that tank (20L) only got a betta and 6 sterbia corys.
 
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