I'm 95% positive that whatever is causing my nitrite spikes is because of my fake plants (had a topic going a few days back, trying to get as many answers as I could from more experienced betta caretakers). I was really hoping it wasn't, but after all the little tests I've done over the past week and a half, it seems to be so. My plastic rock and a plastic log I have do not cause nitrite spikes, and have had a steady 0ppm whenever I've tested them. Even when they're in with my fish. By having a few crested java fern in there, I can balance out the nitrites coming off of one fake plant, but if I add two, they spike again and I have to remove them.
My larger tank is far from cycling, and if I have more than just java fern in the occupied tank, the plants start to die off. I've lost a few water wisteria stems, and all of my compacta. They're perfectly fine when in the cycling tank (which still has high levels of ammonia). So... I don't know what to do. My betta has a large hollowed out plastic log to hide in, if he wants, but he's so bored. He does a lot of glass surfing, and I don't know what I can do to keep him interested without risking high nitrites by adding back in my fake plants. Every once and a while I'll have him chase an onion bulb that is growing in the tank, as it gives him exercise, and he flares at it. But I can't do it all day. Otherwise, the only thing that seems to get him to stop surfing is me being by the tank and actually doing something (like making food).
For the record:
- I have plastic and silk, and both cause nitrite spikes
- My tap spikes to 1.0ppm after 4 or 5 days of sitting around, but having live plants in with the conditioned tap, there is no spike.
-- My fake plants seem to accelerate the spike, and can reach 5.0ppm in 24 hours.
To answer any other questions that might be asked:
- I have a 6.6 gallon tank that is cycling and has some live plants in it. The live plants are in there instead of the occupied tank because there's not enough nutrients, and they die off rather quickly.
- My betta is in an unfiltered but heated 3.0 gallon critter keeper with a plastic log and two crested java fern
- I use API stress coat as a water conditioner, and have been using recommended dosage of AQ salt as he's either missing a scale on his head, or has a slime coat infection. I'm thinking missing scale, but that's beside the point.
- There is no gravel/substrate, and no filter, so there's really nothing for nitrifying bacteria to cling to, and I'm 99.9% positive my 3.0 gallon is not going through a mini-cycle. And I will not cycle this tank, so don't even bother suggesting it. He's in this tank so I don't have to put him through a fish-in cycle while the bigger tank is going!