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Old 09-17-2020, 10:59 PM   #1
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THE NOOB NEEDS HELP (also hello)

Hello everyone! My name is Meg and Im totally new to planted aquariums. I'm happy to have joined this informative site and hope to learn a lot from y'all. I'm going to copy/paste my post just in case it helps my chances of a reply.

I just purchased a 2.5 gallon tank and a Betta from a local specialized aquarium store. I set the tank up that day with substrate, gravel (all rinsed thoroughly) and 3 live plants. I was given enough water from the store (idk if that's normal, but they said it would help establish the tank because it was from one of their "main tanks") and introduced the Betta the same day. I didn't buy an aquarium light or a filter for the tank, but purchased a light a few days later as it seemed like the plants needed more exposure. I also introduced a piece of natural aquarium wood from a different aquarium store and introduced that into the tank (after boiling it) a few days later once I did my first water change, 25-30% volume (exactly a week after I got the tank/fish). I noticed that evening of the first water change the wood had released tannins in the water, making the water more yellow/tea colored. This didn't alarm me. The next morning I turned on the aquarium and noticed what looked like bugs, what I came to find out was copepods. The water was a bit more cloudy than the previous day. Long story short the consecutive days have the water looking cloudier and a bit smellier. I did a 25% water change a few days after the first water change because of the reasons I listed above. I always use distilled water with a small dose of API stress coat and Stability. I only leave the aquarium light on a max of 4 hrs. a day and the tank does not receive direct sunlight. I have a small heater that's set to 77F. What am I doing wrong? I want to get a 5 gallon tank with a filter, but want to prevent this same problem from happening or getting worse. Please help. I also wanted to add that my fish seems totally healthy and active and eating...honestly better than when the water wasn't cloudy and a little smelly. Once I put the wood in the water he perked up (having been hiding the 2 days after I got him at the bottom of the tank). Im just afraid there's something off balance and it's a ticking time bomb so to say.
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Old 09-18-2020, 05:42 AM   #2
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You need a tank with a filter. You also need to know about cycling a tank.

2.5 gallons is a very small amount of water to keep fish in, this makes it difficult to maintain good water parameters, and on top of that you dont have a filter which makes it almost impossible.

The link below is a guide to fish in cycle. Have a read through, do some other research as well and ask if you need more advice.

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...de-176446.html

But most importantly get at least a 5g tank with a filter, heater and light ASAP, then look at cycling the tank. In the meantime i would recommend daily water changes until you can improve on the fishes living environment.

Your plants might benefit from a bit more light. 6 to 8 hours is normal for low light demanding plants.
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Old 09-19-2020, 12:25 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response, I really appreciate it! I'm going to get a 5 gallon ASAP, with a filter. I also wanted to note that my Anubis plant is starting to become spotty and translucent...is this because of algae overgrowth? I will do the water changes everyday if you say this is ok until I set up my new tank. Could this make anything worse? I also bought a water test kit online. Would adding some of my old water to the new tank be beneficial for cycling or is this not a good idea given that this tank seems out of control? Thanks again for your help. I'm also worried that the light is causing the algae and am torn about leaving it on or off?
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Old 09-19-2020, 04:37 AM   #4
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A few points to go over, I'll start with your existing tank.

- Daily water changes will be essential to your unfiltered tank. Without a filter your tank cant cycle very much so ammonia will slowly be building up and ammonia is lethal to fish. Small amounts can be tolerated in the short term and bettas are hardier than most, but in the long term living with ammonia will harm your fish. I would be doing 25% water change daily. When you get your water testing kit, you could cut back on the daily water change if you arent seeing any ammonia or nitrite when you test.
- What testing kit have you bought? A liquid testing kit is better than strips. API master kit is a good one. It covers the basics (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate). Liquid tests are more accurate than strips and as you get 100s of tests out of them, they are more cost effective in the long run too.
- New plants melting is normal. Commercially grown aquarium plants are grown immersed rather than submerged and wont be used to being underwater. They should acclimate over time, some existing growth might melt away completely, but new growth should be healthy. Also, as mentioned, 4 hours lighting isnt very much. Its about striking a balance between healthy plant growth and excessive algae growth. You will have to play with the lighting period until you find something that works. 6 to 8 hours is usually what works for low light requiring plants. Do you know what plants you put in?
- When you get your new tank i would move over everything you can. There will be a small amount of beneficial bacteria in the substrate and on any decorations and this will help establish your cycle. I would move your existing tank water too, not because it will contain anything of benefit, but a 100% water change could be a shock to the fishes system. Moving 2.5g (say 2g when you account for decorations and substrate) into a 5g and then refilling will be like a 50% water change.
- When you get your new tank you need to do a fish in cycle with your fish. I would normally recommend moving any filter media from your old filter to the new, but you dont have any. Test the water daily for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If you see ammonia and nitrite that when the readings add together to 0.5 (say 0.25 ammonia and 0.25pm nitrite or 0.5 ammonia and 0.0 nitrite) do a 25% water change. I would expect you to need doing daily water changes for a short period. If the readings get much higher than the 0.5 combined, you might need to do a 50% change or twice daily 25%. When you are consistently seeing 0ppm ammonia and nitrite and your nitrate is steadily rising your tank is cycled enough for your betta and you can reduce water changes to weekly.
- Algae, while unsightly, isnt harmful, nothing to be worried about, and can be cleaned up manually. The algae will be taking advantage of inbalances between light and nutrients. Weirdly, increasing the lighting might reduce algae as your plants can then more fully take up nutrients from the water and starve the algae. Water changes will also help taking out the nutrients. Until you have a cycled tank, everything will be out of balance and algae growths, diatoms, and bacterial blooms are common. You will likely always be getting some algae unless you really cut light down to a minimum. When you have a larger tank perhaps consider a snail as company for your betta who will help with cleaning up the algae.
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:12 AM   #5
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I can't thank you enough for your time and advice! I purchased API freshwater master test kit and tested my parameters immediately. My nitrite is (0ppm),nitrate is (0ppm) and my ammonia is (0ppm). I've read the test kit and it said that nitrate levels (40ppm) and below are healthy for freshwater tanks, but what is ideal? I also wanted to ask your advice on a couple products. What are your opinions about Dr. Tims Aquatics Ammonium Chloride Solution and the same brand name, One and Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria? I bought these two products before I sought advice but don't want to use them unless you think they are beneficial products. I also want to buy more live wood for my 5 gallon tank, how do you go about preparing the wood for the tank? I boiled the wood last time but that's when I started seeing copepods appearing (although these seem beneficial and harmless). Any tips about this or cautions?
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Old 09-20-2020, 11:08 AM   #6
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Thanks for the thanks. Much appreciated.

A few more points to go over.

- As you arent seeing any ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, your water is safe for fish but not cycled. You should expect to see ammonia as waste product from your fish. As the cycle starts this will turn to nitrite (also harmful to fish) and as it further progresses the nitrite will turn to nitrate (much less harmful) which can be removed with water changes. The water changes you have done are likely why you arent seeing ammonia or nitrite, which is good.

- Nitrate is the end product of the cycle. So, if your tank is cycled you should be seeing some nitrate (unless you have a "very" efficient planted tank and the plants are taking it all up). I would aim to keep your nitrate below 20ppm. 40ppm wont be an issue as long as it isnt the norm. My thinking is always do a weekly water change, sufficient keep it below 20ppm when the next water change is due. So if your nitrate rises by 5ppm in a week, do a 25% water weekly water change. 20ppm will drop to 15ppm after water change and then be back to 20ppm a week later. If you need to be doing more than 50% weekly water changes to keep below 20ppm you are overstocked.

- Just check you are doing your nitrate test correctly. If you dont shake the heck out of bottle #2 you will get a false 0ppm reading.

- Ive used Dr Tims Ammonium Chloride and One + Only and i like the products. Ammonium chloride is used for a fishless cycle as an ammonia source in the absence if fish waste. Don't put this in a tank containing fish. I wouldnt recommend a fishless cycle on your new 5g however. Your betta will benefit from being in the larger tank with a filter ASAP so i wouldnt wait for a fishless cycle to complete that can take a couple of months. One + Only is bottled bacteria. The bacteria is what causes the cycle and products like this will speed up the process. It wont instantly cycle a tank as advertised, but should speed up the process from several months down to maybe 5 or 6 weeks. There are other similar products available, but I like one + only. I probably wouldnt put it in your unfiltered 2.5g. Without any biological media in a filter for the bacteria to establish on, it is probably a waste of money. But, i would definately use this (or something similar) when you get your new set up.

- Preparing driftwood. Ive honestly never bothered other than rinsing it down but thats probably terrible advice from me. I don't see how boiling can cause the copepods, they must have already been in the wood. Boiling should make the driftwood sink easier (i just weight it down for a few weeks/months until it stops floating) and it removes tannins that will colour the water. My understanding is that you should boil it for at least an hour and let it cool or if that is impractical, submerge it in a bucket with a 5% bleach solution for 10-15 minutes. Rinse very well and let soak in bleach free water for at least a day to be sure that any remnants of the bleach have dissipated. If you get any rocks, dont boil them or you risk them exploding.
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Old 09-20-2020, 11:13 AM   #7
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Found this flowchart from aquarium co op for determining the correct amount of water changes to maintain safe nitrate levels. They use 40ppm rather than my 20ppm.

https://www.aquariumcoop.com/pages/water-changes
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Old 09-20-2020, 11:55 PM   #8
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Great advice as usual!

Also if it isn't an issue pull up the DW and smell it, if it smells soured like spoiled iced tea, punky smelling, then I would pull it out and do the dip and or leave it in the sun to dry out after and try again. I had a piece of wood which had issue after issue and kept fouling the water and had to take it out and let it dry out. That may be a problem here as well as not having a cycled tank.
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