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Old 11-10-2019, 09:08 PM   #1
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Algae eaters dying-- betta tank

Hi all,

We've used this website a lot for setting up our first tank for a rescue betta, though my husband did have tanks back in the pre-Google days when all this information wasn't at your fingertips. So we've learned a lot over the past few months but have been having a bit of a problem-- all our algae eaters die. Here's what our setup looks like:

Tank age: 6 months
Tank size: 23 gallon
Tank mates: 1 betta
Tank decor: live planted with driftwood, a few pieces of slate, and a bit of an algae problem that's killing the plants
Nitrogen cycled: Yes
Water changes: 10-30% every 7-10 days, depending on chemical tests
Water temperature: about 77F

We started with some nerite snails, but the tank wasn't cycled so they did not make it. The issue here was definitely our novice excitement getting too many animals too fast.

We made sure our tank was cycled and stable for a few weeks (ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, nitrate under 40 ppm) then introduced 3 otos, as the fish store near us told us they do better in groups. These guys lasted a couple weeks then slowly died off. We never even found the last body.

The people at the aquarium store we go to (highly reviewed, no complaints about unhealthy fish that I could find) suggested it's a pH problem. Also suggested that the otos usually like things on the more acidic side anyway, so that could have been the problem, as could the fact that otos are pretty fragile and we see a lot of posts that in the first 6 weeks for otos there's a pretty high mortality rate. We sit a bit basic usually (7.2-7.6) so we monitored our KH/pH in case the live plants/algae were causing pH spikes through the day. They were a little (a swing of 7.2-7.4 morning to afternoon) so we adjusted our carbonate and waited about a week for everything to stabilize.

Then we got an albino bristlenose pleco. The woman at the shop and the internet agree that these are really hard to kill, so we were like, PERFECT for us. It died in less than a week. Here are my current chemical readings (post-pulling out poor dead Kebab, so the ammonia is a little higher than usual tests). I use a liquid test kit:

pH: 7.6
KH: 50-100 ppm
NH4+: 0-0.25 ppm (usually zero, this is because of the new fish introduction on Monday and fish death today I believe)
NO2-: 0 ppm
NO3-: 0-20 ppm

The pleco should be fine with these values (pH 5.5-7.6 is a fine range for them according to the internet), though the pH still looks a bit high in general. We give a 2 hour adjustment period floating the bag in the tank before putting the fish, but I did just read that it's better to do a slow water exchange as well when introducing the fish so we'll incorporate that in the future. The betta doesn't seem to care about any of these fish really and there were no signs of violence on the bodies or ever in behavior.

So... what do you think, community? I'm currently leaning toward needing to adjust my pH down to about 7 and add some water introduction steps into our acclimation procedure. Is there anything else I'm missing that you see? Do you have suggestions for how to adjust the pH without shocking the betta and killing the one sweet scale baby we have been able to keep alive? Sorry for the crazy long post, but it's been quite an ordeal getting to this point and we'd really like to get some algae eating scale babies to help keep our tank pretty and our plants growing.
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Old 11-11-2019, 12:49 AM   #2
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I know someone's going to say this so I might as well be the first. Chasing the perfect PH is really not neccessary. Most fish will easily adjust to a *constant* PH combined with good water quality. If you change out 50% or more(I'vedone as much as 75%) weekly you should be ok.
Unless you are *stuck* on algae eating fish *I* would recommend adding a couple of Amano shrimp, the best algae destroyers I have ever found.
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Old 11-11-2019, 01:22 AM   #3
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Water parameters seem good. Are you testing with an API Master test kit?

Don't mess with the pH. Stable pH is always better. If your pH is under 9 ppm I wouldn't worry about it. Fish adapt.

Being the fact that your betta has lived through everything without a scratch I would lean towards either your betta killing the fish or you lack oxygen in the tank. What do you use for water circulation/filter? Betta's can live in water with little oxygen because they gulp it from the surface air. But your other fish can't.
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Old 11-11-2019, 01:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by earhtmother View Post
I know someone's going to say this so I might as well be the first. Chasing the perfect PH is really not neccessary. Most fish will easily adjust to a *constant* PH combined with good water quality. If you change out 50% or more(I'vedone as much as 75%) weekly you should be ok.
Unless you are *stuck* on algae eating fish *I* would recommend adding a couple of Amano shrimp, the best algae destroyers I have ever found.
That betta will kill the shrimp 9/10 times IME. Unless heavily planted and I've seen them hunt shrimp. Best case you'll never see the shrimp because they'll constantly hide.
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Old 11-11-2019, 09:49 PM   #5
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King not so sure on that. I've seen them actively hunt neos & cardinia but not Amanos. Amanos tend to hide anyway ao a little harraaamwnt won't bither them too much
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