I have what I think is a fairly unique issue, since I can't find any information on it.
1. Size of aquarium (# of gallons)
3 separate 5 gal. tanks
2. Is your aquarium setup freshwater or brackish water?
3. How long the aquarium has been set up?
Tank # 1 has been set up for 4 months, Tank #2 has been set up for 3.5 months, Tank #3 has been set up for 6 weeks.
4. What fish and how many are in the aquarium (species are important to know)
Tank #1 has one crowntail betta, one albino cory and one julii cory; Tank #2 has one crowntail betta and (now) has one panda cory (also had an emerald green cory, but he died 3 days ago); Tank #3 has one betta splendens.
5. Are there live plants in the aquarium?
No live plants in any of the tanks, all silk plants.
6. What temperature is the tank water currently?
Temp in all three tanks is at 78 to 80 degrees.
7. What make/model filter are you using?
All three tanks are Eclipse tanks, and have the mechanical filter plus bio-wheel.
8. Are you using a CO2 unit?
9. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day?
All three may receive a minimal amount of natural light (though none of them are in direct sunlight), all three have florescent lighting, on for 10-12 hours per day.
10. When did you perform your last water exchange, and how much water was changed?
Water changes are done weekly. Last change was one week ago today. Changes are typically 20 to 25%.
11. How often do you perform water changes?
12. How often and what foods do you feed your fish?
Bettas are fed twice a day. Bettas in Tanks 1 & 2 get HBH Color Brite flakes and bloodworms. Tank 3 betta gets TopFin betta pellets. Cories get half a Hikari sinking wafer - well, they were getting that once daily, but the guys at the LFS said I should probably only do that once a week, unless they looked "peaked" and then I could feed them again. I've been doing it every three days.
13. What type of lighting are you using and how long is it kept on?
Hmm, already answered this, too. Fluorescent lighting, 10 - 12 hours a day.
14. What specific concerns bring you here at this time?
I have a phospate problem. Phosphates are registering off the charts. LFS guys gave me a Poly-Filter (by Poly-Bio-Marine Inc.), that was supposed to remove the phosphate, when I went to talk to them about my algae problem and they tested my water samples. I placed the poly filter under my regular filter cartridges to allow water to flow through. While the filters changed color (as the packaging said they would), phosphates remained the same.
15. What are your water parameters? Test your pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
Water parameters are EXACTLY the same for all three tanks (which the LFS guys found odd). pH is 6.8, ammonia is 0, nitrites are 0, nitrates are 20.
16. What test kit are you using and is it liquid or test strips?
API liquid tests.
17. When was the last time you bought a fish and how did they behave while in the pet store tank?
The last fish I bought was probably the betta in Tank #3. He was the most animated fish at the store....that was in May.
The fish are all acting fine. No visible problems with any of them....well, other than the emerald cory dying. Algae keeps returning on Tanks 2 & 3, less so in Tank #1.
Why is there no information about phosphates anywhere? I can only find info about phosphates in ponds. The oh-so-helpful (NOT) folks at PetSmart looked in every book they had for sale (these are NOT my LFS people), and said we should try bottled water instead of tap water. Well, we only use RO water....so....