White "junk" dirtying up betta tank?

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Aquarium Advice Newbie
Jul 28, 2022
Background information:

Fish: 1 male betta (bought mid-June 2022)
- mild fin rot (from pet store) is being treated with Microbe-Lift Artemiss

Diet: Currently eating ~4 or 5 thawed SF Bay frozen brine shrimp every 2-3 days using a wide-tipped pipette.

- 5.5 gallon Aqueon rimless tank with added glass top
- Aqueon OptiBright adjustable LED light fixture
- Aqueon 3 gallon Quietflow filter + included cartridge (no other media)
- Aqueon 5 watt mini flat heater
- Imagitarium black aquarium sand
- Imagitarium air pump (2.5 watt), tubing, and air stone
- Spring water from Walmart throughout the whole aquarium (this was only because I had triops in the tank previously so it could be changed)

- [T-rex skull]
- Pen-Plax artificial fish breeding grass
- I used to have [this] in the tank and the glosso was sprouting really beautifully before the plant portion was suddenly covered by a cotton-like moss.

Does anyone recognize the white flakey junk on the sand and floating around in my betta's aquarium? It has been appearing consistently for the last month and a half despite my best efforts. The only thing that briefly controlled it was doing a complete water change (much to the chagrin of my little guy) and re-washing his sand all over again. Initially, I thought it must have been excess thawed brine shrimp or uneaten blood worms (he will not go for any food that floats and won't take anything from tweezers either. he sees it, but he just doesn't care), so after that whole ordeal I was extra careful to make sure he ate each shrimp as soon as I dropped it in (as well as spacing out his feedings - both for water quality purposes and because he gets fairly bloated after eating them).

And yet, only two weeks after the water change, it's building up again/fogging up the water. What IS this stuff??? It's driving me insane. I'm not new to keeping fish by any means, but I have never seen anything like this. I've considered getting a bigger/stronger filter, but my guy didn't have the best pectoral fins when I got him and I don't want to make things harder for him when swimming past that corner. I have also tried dosing the water with Accu-Clear both before the water change and now, but there has been no noticeable change. I tested the quality with strips before changing out the water and the results were actually good, which was surprising considering how gross it looks.

Any help with solving this would be amazing. Let me know if I need to provide more info for anything.

** The LAST picture is how the tank is supposed to look (minus the bubbles - this was when I was still cycling it/had just put it together)
Every other picture was taken seconds ago after swishing around the water a bit. **


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Interesting that you mention decor in there. Most people list fish, plants, ph, etc but not decor.

I mention this because the only thing I can reference it to is silicone. I once had a horrible silicone explosion when I was cycling a tank: decided to fill holes in a piece of decor with silicone, but not having aquatic silicone I just used the household type. Figured "what's the diff?" Wrong! Yeah, I was inexperienced (even more than now) but at least no one was living in there. Assuming the household silicone was dry after 3 days, I placed the piece in the tank and came back an hour later to find what looked like what's in your tank, but 100x more.

I've also had decor - even an expensive piece - fall apart quickly and leave flakey pieces all over. So here's my question: have you plucked some of this out with your hands to feel it? You say "cotton-like". Is that the feel as well as the look? I'm wondering if it feels rubbery or hard. That would point towards decor or the tank itself.

BTW, I know how fussy bettas can be about food. I tried everything (and wasted money) before finding the one thing each would eat (betta pellets for all). I'm trying to think if there's any way to get a more rounded nutritional diet into your fellow since he refuses floating betta pellets. Still thinking...hopefully someone here has solved the same problem and will add in.
I have no idea what it is for sure, but I bought a 5.5 gallon aqueon tank to use as a quarantine tank a few months ago. Because it was quarantine tank all I had in there was a mini sponge filter (which had been used before without white flaky stuff everywhere) and a Betta hammock (which also had been used before without white flaky stuff). Had a heater for him as well that had been used before in a tank with no issue. Week or so into the quarantine I had the same exact thing. Looks identical. They were getting stuck on Bettas fins and body. He was doing better at the time it started happening so I just put him back in his home and haven't used the tank since. Also I did a 75% water change when I noticed the stuff and it did not help at all. With my experience with no decorations or substrate and adsnail mentioning silicone possibly? Maybe it is the silicone in new aqueon tanks?
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