Tank Maintenance And Lighting

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by RedBettaBoy, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. RedBettaBoy New Member Member


    I’m no newbie but I am to keeping a Betta and plants. Previously kept goldfish and a bizarre African clawed frog phase. Both messy animals so I always tried to over filter and vacuumed everything up knowing they will produce more super fast

    Now.........1 male Betta and 3 mystery snails in a 20 gallon long with probably 15-17g of actual water. Some java fern, java moss and those lovely Marimo balls. Running 2 hydro sponges in the corners, they are doing some mechanical filtering and the tank is cycled.

    If I do anything in the tank all sorts of debris gets rustled up, water changes of course creates a storm and will take 1-2 hours to settle and return to being crystal clear. I have 1-2 inches of substrate, marble size and smaller natural looking rocks.

    Is that healthy or normal? I have resisted going crazy vacuuming the gravel thinking that stuff would help feed the plants and keep the good bacteria going strong. If I were to vac all of that stuff up I’m unsure 1 Betta and 3 snails would produce enough to fertilizer my plants or even keep the bacteria and a good level. But knowing that much gunk is hiding on the bottom is driving me nuts

    Also I purchased a basic led hood light a few years ago(beams work) I’ve never had algae. I also have no idea if it’s adequate to grow the plants I have in there. The java fern being my main concern

    There’s 100ish led bulbs that are 0.1w. So it’s 10 Watts total? It’s certainly bright in there but that seems like a low watt total if that’s how you calculate

    Well thanks for reading this far, I’ll take any logical advice that is offered

  2. mattgirl Fishlore VIP Member

    If there is that much detritus in and on your substrate you really should be doing some serious substrate vacuuming. Sponge filter are great for surface area for bacteria but aren't really that good at removing all the stuff that can accumulate on the bottom of the tank so you have to do it for them.

    How often do you rinse your sponges? They do need to be cleaned occasionally by squeezing them in some of the water you removed during a water change. If your tank is cycled vacuuming the substrate and cleaning your sponges isn't going to harm your cycle. You don't want to do both sponges during the same water change. Do them at least a week apart.

    Once you get the build up of detritus under control you should no longer have a problem with the dirt storm during regular maintenance.

    Hopefully someone will stop by and help you with your lighting issue.

  3. RedBettaBoy New Member Member

    I was under the impression leaving the “stuff” in there would be good for the plants and to resist the vacuuming.

    Sponges have not been squeezed yet. I did a instant cycle from my HOB filter I had in use and the gravel was already there.
  4. mattgirl Fishlore VIP Member

    You may not want to vacuum right up to an under your plants but if it causes a storm of detritus when doing a water change then there is much more in there than the plants need. It is possible that the plants have already used everything they need from it and now it is just waste and it needs to occasionally be removed.

    If the sponges have only been in there for a short time they may not need to be cleaned yet. Only you can determine how soon and how often it needs to be done.

    I run 2 double sponge filters along with 2 HOB filters on my tank. With all that filtration I clean my sponges one at a time ... one sponge each week so with 4 of them they each get rinsed out once a month. That works for me but may not work for you.
  5. RedBettaBoy New Member Member

    So it sounds as if there are different levels,ages and quality of waste. Oh boy. Best thing I could probably do is probably stop fiddling around in the tank and stirring up the muck myself,but will give a good vacuum next time

    The theory behind this setup I was hoping for a very low tech low maintence almost self sustainable setup aside from topping off or changing water. I mean once the plants grow, it’s just one Betta and some snails in there.

    Thanks for the input. Anyone with lighting knowledge?
  6. mattgirl Fishlore VIP Member

    I am no expert but I think you could get close to what you are shooting for if you had a different kind of filtration going on. If you had a strong HOB type filter that could gently stir up and pull most of the waste out then the only thing you would have to do is rinse the filter media during a water change.

    Sponge filters will pull the waste toward themselves but unless they are rinsed, once filled to capacity, then it just sits there with no other place to go. Eventually it will have to be cleaned out. If left too long between cleanings they will really foul the water when moved for cleaning. Please don't ask me how I know this to be a fact :D

    Fortunately the bio load with just a Betta and a couple of snails will be low though. Good luck with your tank and remember, we love pictures :)
  7. RedBettaBoy New Member Member

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