This is my first post so I'll try to give a full picture of what's been going on; thanks in advance for any insight you can give me. I'm brand new to fish-keeping. And sorry for the novel.
I started with a single male Betta about 4 months ago. Of course I tossed him in an uncycled 10 gallon tank. I didn't have a heater, a filter, nothing. Somehow, Reginald P. Superfish survived my ignorance. The only major traumatic event occurred when I bought a heater and cranked the temp up, causing Reginald to freak and develop extreme clamp fin. He was miserable, but I salted his water a bit and he actually recovered within a week. Lost some length on his fins but otherwise they fully de-clamped, and fast.
Now then, got a Whisper10 filter, temp stabilized at around 79, test kit, Stress Coat. Added two neons, one died right away, added two more, then two more at about 2-week intervals. Added an African Dwarf frog and a mystery snail. I won't be adding anything more.
I don't think Reginald has been fully healthy since enduring the nitrogen cycle and the clamp fin. He got some cottony patches that cleared up fast and then recently he's had little indented slice-looking marks on his head. I've given him Ich*Attack herbal remedy for all his random symptoms and they tend to clear up pretty readily. I tested parameters for the first time a few weeks ago and everything was brilliant.
Now in the past few days, I've decided that Reginald is looking kind of grey, and I think I can identify red streaks on his "cheeks" and some redness around the gills--both on him and on the neons. I tested the ammonia and it was at 3!! Seriously, they should all be dead. Nitrites at zero.
But they're not dead (the neons seem totally happy), and I did pwc
's yesterday and today and then tested again--down to .25.
I think I may be overfeeding bloodworms. I went down this path because with my Hikari pellets, only Reginald and the fattest neon, Bunny, ever get any food. The ADF
is too...special...to figure out how to feed himself unless I turkey baste worms onto his head. He manages to eat two and then everybody else comes and takes care of business. Then, because I feel like I've glutted the tank with food, I give them a day or two off, maybe with a pea shard in there somewhere. I'm thinking of soaking the pellets so they'll wind their way through the tank and everyone can get some--except the frog, who will just have to wait for worms. Better ideas for food types/practices?
Could my feeding them worms 2-3x a week this way have caused the ammonia spike? Too much waste produced in a short burst? Did my last purchase of 2 neons overload the environment? Could Reginald just be depressed because he doesn't want to share the tank with 7 others? He's never hurt anyone but I did notice some aggressive behavior toward the frog yesterday. Is out-of-character aggression another symptom of lowered immunity and stress?
Lastly, I have no gravel siphon. Can't get one til Sunday. I do pwc
's religiously, but would you say that after 4 months the stress in the tank is due to toxic conditions resulting from filth under the substrate?
I guess I'm just overwhelmed with all the variables. Anybody notice anything amid all this info that needs addressing? I just want a stable, healthy tank for my guys. Last thing: when I do get my gravel vacuum, should I go easy so as not to stir up too much, since it's been sitting for 4 months accumulating waste? How do I proceed with keeping things much cleaner in a safe way? I'm super paranoid about ammonia now.
Thank you for any thoughts! Again, sorry this is so long and so full of random questions. Don't feel obliged to address them all! Just hoping that with the full picture, history, and by pointing out what I understand and am still confused about, something might leap out at you. I very much appreciate it.