Hi everyone! I'm new to this forum (and relatively new to Betta keeping) and I'm having an issue with my little guy's tank: despite my best efforts, I've never been able to get the ammonia level in his tank to zero, and his fins are constantly shredding, healing, then fraying again at the ends. Here are the details of his situation:
1.25 gallon vase (no filter or heater)
Prime with each water change (1 drop per 8 cups)
Stability with each water change (5-6 drops per 8 cups)
2.5 lbs aquarium gravel in vase
3 Hikari Gold pellets per day
Water changes every 1-2 days, 4-8 cups each, depending on ammonia levels and fin condition
API Nh3/Nh4+ test kit
Ammonia levels: 0.25 mg/l
When we change water, we are using water that has sat overnight in an open container, and we treat it with Prime and Stability before putting it into his tank.
Daily, we look for any uneaten food or debris on the bottom of his tank and try to remove it with a turkey baster.
If left unchanged for more than 2-3 days, ammonia levels will rise, possibly above the 0.25mg/l level.
In addition, we've started doing a full tank cleaning every 10 days, which gets ammonia down to slightly less than 0.25mg/l (maybe down to ~0.15mg/l), but has not stopped it from rising if not monitored. When doing these cleanings we remove our Betta from his bowl, save 10 cups of water from the tank while replacing the other 10-12 cups, and rinse gravel, plants and bowl with water treated with Prime. We NEVER use soap.
We have systematically removed all plants in this tank one by one to rule them out as reasons for his fins shredding and have not found them to be responsible. We also have no reason to believe that he is biting his tail.
We've had our fish for about 4 months and have been battling ammonia for the last approx. 3 months when we noticed his fins suffering.
One last thing that we're investigating is his gravel: it is pink/orange colored, medium sized, and unsealed. We have noticed that the white turkey baster used in this tank is becoming pinky-orange colored where it's been submerged. Our aquarium shop advised us to remove some of the gravel, rinse it in untreated water, and then leave it to sit in a small container of untreated water for a few days. When we put the gravel into the test water, we checked and the ammonia was 0. Three days later, it seems to be at ~0.15mg/l.
Could the gravel possibly be leaching toxins into the water? Or does anyone have any other ideas for what we could try? Any advice would be SO greatly appreciated, and thank you for reading the tons of info above :)