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Old 04-04-2022, 05:29 AM   #1
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what is the brownish coating on substrate??

Hi! Newbie here. I just started my first 5 gal planted betta fish tank last Monday, so my tank is fairly new. The fishless cycle has already been completed before I added cosmo, my male betta. I have also made sure my tank water parameters are ideal. I've been keeping track of my progress through a journal and I think my fish is doing really well!

Here is some info:
Temp is always 26celcius/78 Fahrenheit.
I haven't done a water change yet, but I will as soon as nitrates get above 30 ppm.
PH is a steady 8.0
Nitrites are around 15 ppm.
And last time I tested ammonia, it was around 25 ppm.
(I didn't test nitrates yet as I didn't think there'd be a lot yet)
I leave the tank led light on around 10-14 hours a day as well.

Recently though, I've noticed areas of my white gravel turning brownish? Could this be fish poop? There's also string/cobweb-ish like things growing on the surface of some of my plants (??Algae???).
I've attached some photos below.

What is this, and how can I fix it? Its been making my aquarium look unpleasant and dirty Please help!
Thanks!
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Old 04-04-2022, 06:43 AM   #2
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They are diatoms, sometimes called brown algae. They feed off nutrient inbalances in newly set up aquariums and tend to go away on their own once these nutrients run out after 2 or 3 weeks.

Could you confirm your water parameters please.

If ammonia is 25ppm and nitrite is 15ppm your fish should already be dead. Is there a decimal point missing somewhere?

You say you completed a fishless cycle before getting your fish. The presence of ammonia and nitrite is a clear indication that your tank isnt cycled. How did you cycle the tank?

Depending on where those decimal points go, your fish could already be in very harmful water.
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Old 04-04-2022, 10:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for clarifying.
Sorry, what I mean were 0.25 and 0.15 ppm of ammonia and nitrites.

I've done my cycle by putting some fish food in the fish tank(my source of ammonia), and testing parameters every day. Keep in mind that I also added bottled bacteria so my cycle went pretty fast.

Once all my ammonia and nitrites disappeared and I made sure my nitrates level were low, I added in my fish. The whole cycle took about a week and a half.

After I made sure my fish adjusted to tank waters, I started to feed one pellet in the morning and one pellet at night per day(he wouldn't eat much at first but now he's slowly eating more and more, so I plan on gradually increasing the number of pellets to 2 pellets in the morning and 2 pellets at night) and occasionally a few freeze-dried bloodworms every week.
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Old 04-05-2022, 02:14 AM   #4
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Those ammonia and nitrite parameters arent too bad, but you arent cycled. If you were cycled they would both be zero. You cant cycle a tank in 1.5 weeks, typically it takes 6 to 8 weeks.

You needed to be cycling out 2ppm of ammonia to zero ammonia and nitrite in 24 hours. What did you get your ammonia level up to and how long did it take to zero out? Adding a small of food as a one off, and waiting for the levels to drop isnt cycling a tank.

You now to be doing a fish in cycle. Water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm. So essentially when they get a bit worse than they are now change some water.
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Old 04-08-2022, 05:41 AM   #5
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Heres a more detailed version of how I cycled my tank
I set up my tank and then added a few pinches of fish food. (probably around 15-20 pellets).

After about 2-4 days, my tank started to produce ammonia. I added in some bacteria in a bottle (I heard it speeds up the process a lot) according to the instructions.

Then after a few days, I did an ammonia test and the ammonia levels started to rise. I did a nitrite test afterwards and got 0.5ppm nitrites. (according to google, some of my ammonia has been converted.)

After about 2-3 days, I did another nitrite test and this time I got 0.15ppm. My ammonia was now 0.25 ppm.

After a few more days, I then did a nitrate test. I got 0.25 nitrates. My ammonia and nitrites all dropped to 0 as well.

I waited for 3 more days and my nitrates disappeared. I'm thinking it got sucked up by all the plants.
So at the end of 1.5 weeks, I officially had 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates.

To answer your question, my ammonia's highest peak was at around 0.50ppm, and it took around 6 days for all of my ammonia to zero out.

Then I added in my fish.

I just did a 25% water change yesterday since my nitrates went up to 0.10ppm.

You said that I needed to be cycling out 2ppm of ammonia to zero ammonia and nitrite in 24 hours. Do you mean that my tank isn't fast enough and that I should've kept adding ammonia during my cycle?
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Old 04-08-2022, 06:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormisan View Post
Do you mean that my tank isn't fast enough and that I should've kept adding ammonia during my cycle?
Yes thats exactly it. You initially needed to add enough fish food to raise ammonia to 2ppm. Then every time it drops to zero add that much fish food. When you are able to add that fish food and 24 hours later see no ammonia or nitrite you are cycled. This typically takes 6 to 8 weeks.

I dont like fish food as an ammonia source. Its difficult to know how much you need to add to raise ammonia, especially as it takes time to decompose into ammonia. Uneaten fish food also tends to go mouldy in the tank and you need to be adding a lot of fish food over an extended period of time. Its much better to use ammonia or an aquarium specific ammonium chloride product which can be accurately dosed.

Now you have fish you need to do a fish in cycle. Do you know how to do this?
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Old 04-08-2022, 06:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormisan View Post
I just did a 25% water change yesterday since my nitrates went up to 0.10ppm.
Do you mean nitrate or nitrite? Nitrate will always be present in a cycled tank. Your cycle produces nitrate. Plants may take up some nitrate, but not all of it. In fact low nitrate would present a nutrient deficiency to your plants. Nitrate of 40ppm is perfectly acceptable, and if you are seeing it below 20ppm that could cause issues with your plants.

As you arent cycled your tank wont be producing much nitrate yet, but that should change as it progresses. Also, presuming you are using API liquid test, really shake bottle #2. Like bang it on the counter. Not shaking the bottle enough will give a false low reading.
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Old 04-08-2022, 06:49 AM   #8
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Post #13

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...in-379399.html

Instructions on fish in cycle.
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Old 04-08-2022, 10:22 PM   #9
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Thank you so much!
Okay, just to confirm:
I need to make sure that my ammonia and nitrite levels together have to always be no more than 0.50 ppm.
Yesterday I tested my ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels and they're all 0. That means I don't need to do any water changes yet right?

Also, you said there will be a stage where I'll be able to cut back to only controlling the nitrates. So do you mean that by that stage, all of the ammonia present in my tank will be converted into nitrates within 24 hours?

You mentioned having a fully stocked tank as well. I have a pretty small 5-gallon tank, and I'm not sure if it's fully stocked yet or not. I was originally planning on adding some neon tetras, but I'm scared my betta might attack them and my space isn't big enough for them. Here is a picture of my tank:
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Old 04-09-2022, 05:39 AM   #10
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If you arent seeing elevated levels of anything, no need to do a water change. Check daily, and as suggested change water if ammonia + nitrite combined get above 0.5ppm to bring it down to that target. That sort of level is minimal risk to your fish, while leaving enough waste in the water to cycle the tank.

Eventually you wont see any ammonia or nitrite in your tests and you wont need to do water changes to control them any more. At that point you are cycled and you should be seeing nitrate steadily rising and this is controlled through less frequent water changes than you needed while cycling the tank. Typically keep nitrate no higher than 40ppm. A weekly water change should manage this, you may get away with fortnightly.

5 gallon tank is ideal for a single betta. It wont adequately support a group of small social fish like tetras, and your betta might not appreciate the company anyway. If you wanted to add something else, then a mystery snail would go in there nicely, help a bit with cleaning, not add too much bioload, and probably wont stress out your betta.

If you wanted to add some tetras into the mix i would upgrade to a 10g. The additional volume will support a group of small tetras like neons, and the additional space means the fish can keep their distance a little more and give you a better chance of them tolerating each other. Bettas are happy on their own, adding other fish is for your benefit, not the bettas.
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Old 04-09-2022, 01:05 PM   #11
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Nice looking tank, pretty betta. Would you consider giving Cosmo some places to hide, and loop through? An arch or some other decor to keep his intelligent mind active; the betta log is great for hiding, sleeping, taking a break from the lights.

Also, since they are fighting fish, have you seen the 5-minute mirror ball for some sparring once a day?

Mine loves all of these. He has a busy schedule of patrolling the area, napping, dragging loose plant strands to exactly where he wants them, snacking, etc.
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Old 04-09-2022, 09:46 PM   #12
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Thank you. I will do my best to ensure that I get a nice cycled tank. I live in a small apartment so I don't have much space but I might get another 10-15 gal when I move out a couple of months later to a bigger house and get a school of neon tetras, Harlequins and some shrimp to build a nice community tank.
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Old 04-09-2022, 09:54 PM   #13
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Yep, I have a rock in the corner and he absolutely loves to go behind it or rest on it. I call it his little secret "hideout" lol.
Don't worry, I'll consider changing up the deco once in a while so he doesn't get bored. I got this mirror as a substitute for the mirror ball and I use it to flare him every morning for a few minutes as well to stretch his gill flaps and to replenish his natural instinct.
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Old 04-09-2022, 09:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADsnail View Post
Nice looking tank, pretty betta. Would you consider giving Cosmo some places to hide, and loop through? An arch or some other decor to keep his intelligent mind active; the betta log is great for hiding, sleeping, taking a break from the lights.

Also, since they are fighting fish, have you seen the 5-minute mirror ball for some sparring once a day?

Mine loves all of these. He has a busy schedule of patrolling the area, napping, dragging loose plant strands to exactly where he wants them, snacking, etc.
Aww, your betta sounds really happy and living its best life.
I have a rock in the corner and he absolutely loves to go behind it or rest on it. I call it his little secret "hideout" lol.
Don't worry, I'll consider changing up the deco once in a while so he doesn't get bored. I got this mirror as a substitute for the mirror ball and I use it to flare him every morning for a few minutes as well to stretch his gill flaps and to replenish his natural instinct.
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Old 04-23-2022, 09:50 AM   #15
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2-week update on fishless cycling

I've been doing constant parameter and temperature checks, observing if there appears to be any noticeable stress from my betta. So far, no noticeable stress, water parameters have stayed very very stable for the past two weeks as well.

No ammonia at all, no nitrites at all, just climbing nitrates. I haven't done any water changes yet at all because my nitrates climb suuuuper slow and so I don't think I need one yet. But I have added some new plants, a piece of driftwood and a zebra nerite snail as well.

Is my tank successfully cycled now and has it finally established its bio-bacteria colonies? Or should I keep observing and testing?

25~27℃
0ppm ammonia/ammonium
0ppm nitrites
15ppm nitrates.
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Old 04-23-2022, 01:26 PM   #16
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You have a betta in the tank. You have been doing a fish in cycle.

If you are no longer seeing ammonia or nitrite you are cycled sufficiently for what you have in the tank.

Testing periodically is still a good idea, but you probably dont need to do it daily. Maybe cut back to 2 or 3 times a week, for a couple of weeks, as you get more comfortable with your parameters and water change schedule you won't need to test so often. Probably only testing if you see something off in the tank.
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