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Old 01-22-2013, 09:47 AM   #1 
JAGalletta
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How to treat bacterial infections in an NPT?

I've been using Aquarium Salt to treat my betta for bacterial infections/other issues in my 29gal NPT, and it is doing a horrible number to my plants. My Amazon Swords are yellowing, floating duckweed is smaller than normal, water sprite turning brown, and horn wort completely disintegrating. My crypt spiralis is managing with minor die-back at the tips, frogsbit is doing well, red tiger lily is thriving, water onion is growing and microswords are sort of OK.

At the moment I only have one betta and nothing else in this tank because the bacteria killed everything else.. but the betta is recovered, so I may be running into nutrient deficiencies soon for these plants, but I believe the pressing issue at the time is the salt.

I'm using an organic potting soil substrate, with play sand cap. I have soft water, do not aerate and use an underwater (submersed) filter with a submersed spray-bar for large amount of gentle flow. Heater keeps the tank at 78 and is located next to the filter intake for heat dispersion. I'm using 32 watts of 6700k light and a 32 watt Aqueon Floramax bulb both installed in one fixture on a 6:30am - 4:30pm daily schedule (one month old). I have no CO2 system, and only count on little betta to make some - realistically this can't be enough, but I can't afford liquids or gas system, but maybe a yeast driven system could work?

Can someone help me troubleshoot/bring this tank back to proper conditions, and suggest a better way to treat infections?
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:28 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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I would QT the Betta in something that you can either heat or small enough to float in the heated tank. Make partial water ONLY changes-a couple of back to back 50% to get the salt out-then keep your lights on for 12h/day. Since this is a new setup-you shouldn't need any added ferts or inject CO2-the nutrient rich substrate should be enough to feed the plants. Most of those plant are salt tolerant, however, just like with fish-even salt tolerant plants need to be properly acclimated to the salt slowly. Some of your plant problems might be due to normal leaf change over from emersed-submersed.

Don't do any vacuuming-allow the organics to start breaking down and you could even add a pinch or two of a fish flakes for the plants. As the organic break down it will make their nutrients available for the plants to use as food-as well as the natural CO2 it can produce.

How long has the tank been setup with the soil, how deep is the soil and cap. Where did you get the plants, how do you have the rosette planted. Does the tank get any natural sunlight, if so what facing window. How far are the lights from the water and is there a partition between the lights and water.

Source water-do you know the pH, KH/GH, do you have a water softening unit on the house, if so, can you bypass it for the aquarium.

Can you post a pic...
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:35 AM   #3 
JAGalletta
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Quote:
How long has the tank been setup with the soil, how deep is the soil and cap. Where did you get the plants, how do you have the rosette planted. Does the tank get any natural sunlight, if so what facing window. How far are the lights from the water and is there a partition between the lights and water.

Source water-do you know the pH, KH/GH, do you have a water softening unit on the house, if so, can you bypass it for the aquarium.

Can you post a pic...
OFL, here are the details:

Tank has been set up for about three weeks now. No natural sunlight. The room it's in has a northwest facing window with blinds that are always closed. Soil is approx 3 inches and cap is about 1 to 1-1/2" Plants were initially doing very well until I as(salt)ed them. The plants are from various places - Petsmart (swords, microswords, water onion, ludwigia), Petco (Hornwort), LFS (tiny stalk of anacharis, duckweed, frogbit, crypt spiralus, small stalk of water sprite which was weak when received), Walmart (Red Tiger Lotus bulbs, assorted bulbs). I tried planting the rosettes with the root tops above the water but they kept floating away, so the play sand is just above the top of the roots, but I think my KH and GH have more to do with their failure.

My water source is horrible, and there's no way around it - city water with GH and KH of 1-2 degrees. I believe pH is 6.8-7.0 but I should recheck. How do you win this soft/hard water battle? I've heard crushed coral and other techniques - do you have a preference or experience with this and/or what is the best way? I tried to contact API's troubleshooting team with no response. I'm not sure if I want to get into buffers and all of that, but if it's necessary, I'll take the plunge.

The lights are about 5-6 inches above the surface of the water with nothing between the water and the lights. I think I had/have enough light, but added an additional 40W 6500k light. I figured this might help and brings wattage to about 4W/gallon, but of different color temps (Does this have a positive effect?). I keep about 25 gallons in this tank (104W/25G ~= 4W/G).

Here are some photos:

Aside from the bubble nest, it's a sad, sad scene in there.


The tank. - You can see the yellow color of the plants here.


Sword with parts of dead Hornwort at base


Water sprite (center), Microswords (left), Dead Hornwort (background)


Sword, Ludwigia


Red Tiger Lotus, Crypt Spiralus


My boy.


Big bubble nest! - about 2" x 3" and 1/2" thick. (I was pleasantly surprised to find this when I took these pictures last night.)
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:14 AM   #4 
Oldfishlady
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I think you are correct in thinking it is due to your soft water...What you can do for that is-add some crushed coral in a mesh bag and place it in your filter or just add some to the tank. You can also mix bone meal into your soil itself. You could make some ice cubes or better-clay balls with some bone meal and crushed coral mix together-let the clay dry-then cram it into your soil about every 2 inches. Most plants do better with hard water-they need that mineral content.
You will need to have your replacement water premixed with the crushed coral too. You can use large buckets-add the crushed coral in mesh bags along with an air stone and keep this running all the time. Only make 25% water changes at a time.

You really need a lot more plants-at least 75% of the floor needs stem plants-otherwise your tank can crash.

It was hard to tell and I know the hornwort isn't doing well...but its a floater and will not do well if you plant it.

Did the plants come in tubes?
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:42 AM   #5 
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The petsmart ones were in tubes or sealed plastic blisters like a bag of Swedish fish would be packaged, feeding off of the clear gooey growing medium, but they're now transplants from my 10gal that had them living in ok conditions (except for kH). I'm keeping an eye on the nitrogen cycle in this tank because of the minimal amount of plants and supplementing the plants' function with water changes. The plan at this point is to monitor the cycle and get these plants back up to health using your pointers. Thanks a bunch for them. Once they're in good health I'd like to propagate from them to get to the 75% level. Do you think this approach would work, or is there something about allowing the filter to establish a bacterial colony that will rob the plants of necessary nutrients or something? Or, is there another reason?

Thanks again!!
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:24 PM   #6 
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Its not that not having enough stem plants from the beginning will cause plant problems per se...it more that the soil/water can get toxic for livestock when you don't start with enough of the right species of plants. Since this is a closed system-you need lots and lots of stem plants in active growth to function as the filtration to keep the water safe for livestock-it has nothing to do with the nitrogen cycle. The rosette plants-like swords, grasses, crypts and then the fern and moss-all great plants-but they are small feeders and slow growers and can't keep up with byproducts produced in the system fast enough to keep the water safe. This is why it is so important to start out with enough of the right species of plants in the soil based systems.

I would recommend that you remove any livestock to be on the safe side.

The plants that come in the tubes with the gel are usually okay plants-provided that they are true aquatic plants-sadly many are not meant to be kept underwater long term. Another problem you can have with the tube plants that are true aquatic-is that due to how they are grown at the nursery-they don't have their underwater leaves yet and will go through a normal change over from emersed-to-submersed leaf-All the emersed leaves will die and the new submersed leaves will form/grow. This process can really stall a soil based tank-especially when these are the main plants.

This is a pic of one of my 10gal NPT about 1 week after I first planted it-right before its first trim. You can see pic of it on the first day on my album-This will give you an idea of the number of plants you need.

Last edited by Oldfishlady; 01-25-2013 at 04:35 PM.
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