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Old 07-18-2011, 04:51 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jul 2011
safe fish parameters

Bottom Line: Is my tank sufficient for betta fish? If not, what actions should be taken to bring it to standard?

Tank: 10 gallon
Cover: Yes/Lighted
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?

Thanks much.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:31 PM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the forum.....

Overall the tank contents look good-but check the plastic plants for roughness since they can snag the delicate Betta fins....

I would stop using the pH adjuster generally will adapt to your source water pH and the pH swing can really be hard on them and in some cases fatal.....without proper buffers the pH will bounce back to what it was to start and this can be stressful on the fish........

The only time you want to change the pH and hardness is with sensitive species....usually you will need to change the pH and hardness with non-sensitive species for spawning and/or egg with Neon can keep them in high pH and hard water-but if you want them to spawn you will need to change the water chemistry for the them to spawn and for the eggs to hatch-otherwise they are generally fine with most source water pH, GH/KH as long as the extremes are avoided....but this is generally with most species of fish......

With fish in cycle-it can safely be done provided that you are willing and able to make the needed water changes to keep the fish safe and since you have a test kit on hand-this will make cycling fish in easier

In a 10gal filter tank-make 50% water change with substrate vacuuming in all places that can be reached without moving anything in the tank or disruption of live plant roots and make another 50% water only change with water pram readings of ammonia, nitrite 0.25ppm or greater....

Once you have nitrate 5-10ppm and 0ppm ammonia and nitrite for several days without spikes you are most likely cycled...time-line can vary based on stocking, pH, temp and live plants.....

Also-test your source water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH and 24h degas on the pH

On the nitrate #2 bottle-be sure and shake, bang, shake some more before use-this reagent tend to settle and it can give skewed readings.....

After deaths make a 50% water change after the dead fish is removed

Its best to not clean or change the filter media until the nitrogen cycle has established unless the water flow has slowed and then only give it a rinse/swish in old tank water with a water change...Once the cycle has established you will need to do this a couple of times a month-unless you plan to use carbon (not needed) then change it per package direction and monitor the water prams for a week or so for can also cut a piece of the established sponge and add to the new sponge to seed it...but still a good idea to monitor water prams......

Ideally you want your numbers to be:
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 5-10ppm...less than 30ppm....high nitrate can effect immune response, growth/development and sudden nitrate changes can shock the fish-but this is with really high nitrate over 60-80ppm down to 0-5ppm......usually seen in neglected tanks with a large water change or improper acclimation of new fish.
pH-varies-avoid extremes
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Old 07-18-2011, 06:49 PM   #3 
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Thanks for the reply. I was mostly concerned about the pH, as I read that betta prefer <7.4, and that dying neon tetras were a really bad sign (given the other numbers weren't crazy).

Thanks again.
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Old 07-18-2011, 07:18 PM   #4 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Its better to have a stable pH than a pH that swings due to chemical additives......most of the fish we keep are not wild caught and have never seen their native habitat water prams...wild caught sensitive species are a different story....the Bettas we keep are domesticated and adapt to most pH and hardness of the hobbyist source water without issues, with extreme differences in pH like with fish shipped from overseas to the long as proper acclimation to the source water is made the fish will adapt and be fine......
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:55 PM   #5 
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Awesome. Thanks much!
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