Bottom Line: Is my tank sufficient for betta fish? If not, what actions should be taken to bring it to standard?
Tank: 10 gallon
Filtration: Yes (side-mount rated for 5-15 gallon) w/homemade baffle/deflector
Heater: Yes (Top Fin 50W adjustable); set to 80'
Decorations: 1in red gravel (well-rinsed), plastic plants, ceramic teapot/cup
Hello. First post. I've been wanting a betta for a while, and used this site for research. I want to make sure my digs are safe before I get my betta, and I am having a few questions.
I've been fish-in cycling for about a week using tetras (started with 3 neon and 3 bloodfin) and a ghostshrimp. [I know there are drawbacks, but I thought I was using fairly hardy fish for it.] The ammonia has spiked. Nothing much yet for nitrites. I did get a higher reading on nitrates.
I have been using API master test kit with the vials and dropper-bottles. My readings from yesterday were:
pH - 8.0
Ammonia - 0.25 ppm
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 5.0 ppm
I immediately did a 25% water change and reduced feeding to lower Nitrate. I have treated the water with "pH Down" twice (about half the dosage recommended for the tank volume; immediately after change and again the next day [today] to equal total dosage but spread out to be less severe).
Today's tests had the same readings for all.
I'm okay with the ammonia and nitrates doing their thing, but I'm a bit concerned about the pH. I don't want to alter it too much.
When I originally set up the tank, I had a non-adjustable heater that was supposed to keep the tank at 78, but instead kept it at 74; I swapped it for an adjustable one that has been keeping nicely right at 80. I have a separate thermometer in the tank to verify.
I didn't think any of the readings were "too bad", but I have since lost 4 tetras. All the neons died within a few days, and 1 bloodfin died last night. I put a few more bloodfin; now 5 total bloodfin and the ghost shrimp.
From what I read, I thought tetra were supposed to be "least bad" for fish-in cycling, and would go alright with the betta when the cycle was done.
Was the low starting temperature an issue? Too many fish? Should I never change water during cycling? [I read that somewhere; don't think I trust it.] Or is the pH simply too harsh?