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Old 11-01-2010, 10:04 PM   #1 
MeB
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Algae Eater?

I have a 2.5 gallon tank with a single male Betta and a bottom-feeder, not a chinese algae eater but an Otocinclus. I only have the bottom-feeder because I have been having problems with algae taking over my tank. I have had chinese algae eaters before, and they were good for about a year before they turned nasty and killed my bettas, so I specifically asked for a fish that wouldn't do that. So far they are getting along well, but does anybody have any experience with Otocinclus? Also, is there any way I can get rid of the algae for good?
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:31 PM   #2 
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Otos are small and peaceful - good tankmates for bettas. But unfortunately your tank is really way too small to have more than one fish. In a tank that small ammonia builds up quickly and thats bad for your fish. Otos are known to be on the more delicate side so it may even kill them, not to mention that he doesnt have much room to get away and hide should the betta decide to attack him. Algae is usually caused by an imbalance in light and nutrients so its probably one of those. Do you know exactly what type of algae you have? Does your tank have any live plants?
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:19 PM   #3 
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I know the tank is pretty small, but I'm hoping with a good filter and frequent water changes I can keep the ammonia levels down. I don't have room for a larger tank. Fred (my betta) is relatively unaggressive, only flaring at his neighbor, my current rescue fish.
I have no live plants, but the tank is heavily planted with artificial ones. I made sure there is room for either fish to hide.
I don't know what kind of algae it is, I think it may be more than one kind.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:35 PM   #4 
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Not only is the tank too small for two fish but the Otocinclus is also a social fish and will do best in groups of at the very least 3 and 6 or more being best.

Any of the algae eating or clean up crew livestock only eat some types of algae to start with and in a closed system especially 2.5gal will never provide enough of the right kind of algae for the Otocinclus to survive-he needs supplemental feedings and this will cause an even higher load on your already overstocked tank

Soon you may start to see stress and then immune response drops and a stressed fish is a sick fish

The best algae eater/controller in closed systems are the Hobbyist-manual removal and water changes-all part of the hobby and fish keeping......

No matter how big the filter or water changes and it is not just ammonia you need to worry about it is the high DOC level..... you are not meeting the needs of the Otocinclus.......... -kinda like a Betta in a cup-it will be fine short term but suffer long term.....
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:14 PM   #5 
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I completely agree with OFL, these are not proper conditions for otoclinus catfish. They should only be kept in larger, mature tanks with others of their own kind. Even if you kept the water pristine, that small of a tank doesn't have enough surface area inside it to provide the oto with enough grazing area--it would quickly go through all the algae in the tank and begin to starve. All of the otoclinus in stores are wild-caught, so very few of them will eat any prepared fish food at all--most rely completely on algae growing in the tank. Of all the algae you could possibly grow in your tank, they only eat a few specific species.

You should really take the fish back to the store or use your local aquarium society, craigslist, or other means to rehome him. It's the right thing to do.
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:05 PM   #6 
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I don't think I can take him back...I can try. If I take him back though I don't know what to do about the algae, it took over my entire tank a few months ago and killed my betta, I don't want that to happen again. Even if I clean out all the algae, it just comes right back. Is there something else I can do, like get a snail? I had a snail, but the algae killed him too.
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Old 11-03-2010, 01:47 AM   #7 
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Unfortunately, it is not possible for algae to kill an animal like a betta or a snail. Rising ammonia levels in the tank due to the waste output from your betta or snail can cause algae to bloom. Algae is a side-effect of the problem, but it is certainly not the problem.

What you have to understand is that fish constantly release a toxic substance called ammonia through their gills as they breathe. This is sort of like the fish's version of urination. Ammonia is a very unpleasant substance--it's the source of the foul odor in window cleaners and all-purpose cleaners that they try to cover up with perfumes. In weak concentrations, it will slowly wear down your fish's organs and their ability to fight off diseases, ultimately leading to sickness and death. In high concentrations, it will literally burn away the fins and the gill tissue. Not a pretty way to die.

In nature, this ammonia is consumed by beneficial bacteria, that convert it into a less harmful substance, it is also consumed by plants, and diluted over much larger quantities of water. Since none of these components are at work in small, unfiltered, uncycled betta tanks, you must compensate for this with very frequent 100% water changes. For instance, a 1 gallon container will need a 100% change every other day, a 2 gallon container will need a 100% change every 3 days, and a 5 gallon container will need a 100% change once a week.

The reason why you need to do 100% changes is because if you change 50% one day and 50% the very next day, technically this adds up to 100, but you have not changed 100% of the water. Inevitably there is some of the old, fouled water left, plus whatever your fish added to it in between, so over time these partial changes become less and less effective at controlling ammonia.

Your problem is that the ammonia levels in your tank are too high and the tank is receiving too much light. If the tank is getting any direct sunlight during the day, move it. It is not healthy for your betta and that is the fastest way to get waaay too much algae. If the tank has its own light, try to keep it on for only about 6 hours a day.

Even if you get a snail or whatever, if you don't eliminate the source of the algae it will continue to be a problem. Personally, I would skip the snail. Snails just turn algae into poop, which is just as unsightly and it contributes to the ammonia level in your tank.
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:19 AM   #8 
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Algae can't kill your fish. While unsightly, it actually acts like a plants and photosynthesizes/ removes ammonia from water. If something is killing your fish it could be ammonia, temperature swings (having your tank in direct sunlight will do this AND be the cause of your algae problems), or yet something else.
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:13 PM   #9 
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My apologies for not being completely informed. I do have a filter in the tank, the tank is in one of the most shaded areas of my room, and I am at school for 8-9 hours a day so I cannot turn off the light at 6 hours.
You're probably right about the ammonia killing the betta and maybe the snail, but the algae did grow all over his shell, so I naturally assumed it killed him.
I try to do 50% water changes every two weeks, which is about as often as my schedule has that much time. If it won't make the algae problem worse, I would like to get some live plants.
I'm sorry if this comes off as me being irritated, but I am. This algae has been a problem for over a year now, and nothing I try gets rid of it.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:20 PM   #10 
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If your tank has no live plants you don't need to keep the lights on at all. Ambient room light will be enough for your betta. Also, you can buy a light timer for $5 or so.
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