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Old 01-17-2011, 10:50 AM   #1 
neekis
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Wisconsin
Unhappy Nitrates....

I have had my 14 gal tank since June. I have a filter and have a homemade baffle to reduce water flow. I occasionally take it off, thinking it will clean the water better.

I have 1 betta and last week added two mystery snails. I just changed the lights to flourescent. (I was having algae problems.) Now here's the problem. My nitrates have always been at 0 from the start. Same with the Nitrites. Questioning my API water test....I know, I probably shouldn't have added my betta (Neekis) until the numbers were right, but he has been doing fine.

I use Prime with my softened water. Any ideas why the nitrates have never gone up?? Could the Prime being causing false readings???

Also, Neekis has been sitting on the bottom of the tank more than normal. I even thought that his eyes were bulging a bit, but I may have been imagining that. Maybe he doesn't like his new lights???

He's been fine with the snails, even sits in his floating betta log with one of them. I have discovered that, yes, mystery snails poop alot...I've been doing a about a 2-3 gal water change every other day because of it. Vacuuming up as much as I can. I don't want to stir up the gravel too much, but I see the poop dropping down into the gravel....should I just let it stay down there and hope that the good bacteria will take care of it??? Do I even have good bacteria if my nitrates are never more than 0???

I'm just getting more confused by the moment....I just want a good aquarium for Neekis!

Any ideas or comments would be great!

Thanks!
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:04 AM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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How many days has the tank been running

On the #2 nitrate bottle-make sure you shake, bang and shake some more before you use it....the reagent tend to settle and can give false reading...also after you put drop in from the #1 bottle make sure you shake it really hard for 5 sec after the drops-before you add the #2 bottle drops

Also-don't rinse the test tubes in chlorinated water-this can skew results-aged tank water is the best-empty in the sink after the test and dip in the tank-shake and pour out in the sink-repeat as needed-air dry...
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:16 AM   #3 
neekis
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Hey oldfishlady! Not sure if you remember me from a long time ago...

My tank has been running since June. And I googled info on the API test and did the whole pounding, shaking thing. Along with following the directions precisely. Also, we don't have chlorinated water. I even checked the expiration dates and they're fine. (I actually had questioned the test kit a when I was initially setting up the tank and trying to cycle it....)

Do you think I should pick up another test kit or maybe try a different kind??
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:33 PM   #4 
Oldfishlady
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If its been running since June you should be showing a Nitrate reading...it could be the test kit....hard to say....

Things take can cause low to no nitrate reading-lots of live actively growing plants, low stocking, large gravel, over vacuuming, over cleaning or change the filter media, really low pH are just a few reasons

How are the fish acting overall

Ideally you want the numbers to read:
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 5-10ppm
pH-varies
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:59 PM   #5 
neekis
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My one male Betta seems to be doing fine....although he seems to be resting on the bottom a little more than usual. Of course, today, I haven't seen him do it at all. The two mystery snails are just busy pooping all over the place! I wish I wouldn't have gotten them....but my 4 yr old son has named them Tom and Jerry and has gotten very attached! I mentioned taking them back to the pet store and he didn't like that idea at all!!

We have high pH and pretty many growing plants. I have medium sized gravel. I now do more vacuuming since the poopy snails. I don't think I had been over cleaning. I did have the algae problem, but changed the lights to flourescent to help that.

Maybe I'll just try getting a new test kit....thanks for all your input!!
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:28 PM   #6 
Oldfishlady
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How many and what kind of live plants....sometimes the active growth of the plants will use the ammonia before it convert and you will not get nitrate readings...this is normal and expected in planted tanks with low stocking....

The snail poop is good-the plants will love it and use it for food too-I would decrease your cleaning to 1-50% weekly with light vacuuming in all area that you can reach without moving anything or disruption of plant roots and unless your water flow has slowed I wouldn't rinse/swish the filter media in old tank water any more than 1-2 times a month

Some algae growth is normal and expected-it can also be a sign of healthy water, however, since this is a closed system you do have to keep it under control-if you have algae growing on the back wall or non-viewing walls it is best to leave it-weekly algae scraping on viewing wall, plant leaves, some decoration on a weekly bases with the water change.....if you add plant fert be sure and do this after the weekly water change-sometimes increasing the photo period will help by increasing the live plant growth to out compete the algae-depending on the number and type of plants I would start with 10h...some algae growing on decoration can help the tank look more natural and soften edges-it is also a good food source for the snail and the Betta will enjoy the micro-critters that feed in the algae as well....

Love to see some pics....and I agree with your son...keep the snails....I am a big fan of snails- they can even be beneficial especially in planted tanks....
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Old 01-17-2011, 04:26 PM   #7 
neekis
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Smile

Thank you sooo much for your detailed reply. I feel much better about the whole snail poop thing! Thanks!! :)

As for the plants I originally had Amazon Sword (echinodorus), Coconut (perliosanthes) and Gold Ribbon (Dracaena)...then did my research after the fact and found that the Amazon Sword is the only true aquatic plant. I got rid of the other two because they weren't doing as well.

As for not scraping the "non-viewing" wall....I have none. I will post a pic. I fertilized my plants once with tablets, but haven't since I first got them 6 months ago. In the pic, I had just cleaned the walls, but I've been leaving the rest for the snails.

(In regards to the pic...Yes...there is a Christmas tree in the background....I'm in the process of taking it down! and yep, it's a real one. NEEDLES everywhere, son is scooping up needles and putting them in his geo trax train set as I write this!)

I'm including a pic of Neekis with his new buddy Tom (the snail) in his betta log!

Thanks again for all the info!
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Old 01-17-2011, 04:46 PM   #8 
Oldfishlady
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Very nice...and your swords look great-it even looks like one will be giving you a baby sword plant soon too.....as long as the swords look healthy you may not want to feed too much or they will out grow the tank too quick....lol...these guys get really big......

Nice looking Betta too....
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Old 01-17-2011, 04:55 PM   #9 
neekis
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Thanks and yes....I've had a couple babies already. Took them out when I was tackling the algae one time, but I will probably leave any new ones that come.

BTW, the house decor I had to really file down a lot! There were so many sharp edges. And, really, thanks again for all the great info. I really appreciate it! (I missed you!) :)
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