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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone. This is my first post and I am glad to have found you guys and gals. I am looking forward to getting some good advice form you and in time being able to give it to others as well.

The situation:
About 3 months ago I purchased a 5gal tank and 7 female beta's for my kids just to look at. I soon became attached to it and started trying to take good care of them. All as been well for the most part but recently I have developed cloudy water. I am hoping you will be able to help me diagnose and cure the cloudy water.

The specifics:
5gal Fluval Edge tank w/ 3 stage filter. Filled to about .25 inch from top.
5gal tank heater.
I have tank lights on for a few hours almost every day. (very inconsistant) (tank gets great natural non-direct light)
6 female's. 1 bottom feeder type of fish-not sure what it is. They seem very happy and healthy.
1-1.25 inch of brown gravel from petco.
no live plants.
several fake plants and logs for hiding and to look nice.
I change 50% water once every 2 weeks. very slowly and carefully.
I never vacume the gravel. (I did 1 time with a 100% water change and 2 fish immed. died so I never did it again) (replaced 1 fish)
I feed once a day every morning. Just enough that they eat in about 2 minutes.
I feed freeze dried brine shrimp from yourfishstuff on the net.
With every water change I use 5 ml of AquaSafe.
I recently put in one half of a TetralVeggie tropical algae wafer for the bottom feeder. It did not eat it. (water was cloudy before this)

Please ask questions if I am missing anything.
I would really appreciate any help that you can give. I would really like to keep my fish happy and healthy.

ALSO: please comment about other things I am doing wrong. I want to learn.

Thank you very much!
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Forgot to mention I also change all 3 filters once every 2 weeks.
also the cloudiness of the waer.... It is not a hanging cloud in the water. All the water is slightly cloudy. White/gray looking. My wife can barely even tell. I just see it because I look all the time and noticed the change.
thank you.
 

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First off, your five gallon is very overstocked. For a betta sorority you need at least 10 gallons. Also, changing all the filters at once will disrupt the nitrogen cycle, the filters should be staggered so you keep good bacteria while the changed one recharges. Usually cloudy water will be bacteria bloom, which happens at the start of a tank cycle. It could also be fine debris from fish waste floating in the water column.

I strongly recommend moving to a 10 gallon tank. 6 full grown bettas in a 5 gallon will be very unhealthy for the water and the fish. It will also give them more ways to escape when they bicker together.

My sorority is in a 15gal long tank, with 8 females and ghost shrimp.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you.
But - what can I do about the cloudy water for now?
I am not going to go get a 10 gallon tank today so to speak but I would like to address the problem of the water today if possible.
 

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You can try small water changes over the next few days.. but in truth, with the tank being way over stocked, and dangerous for the ladies.. the tank can't hold all of that, and it's spiking and trying to cycle and it's crashing. I don't think you will ever be able to get it cleared up.
Your tank is trying to cycle, but with so much bio load, 3 filters that you are changing way too frequently, it has no chance at being stable.
Not to be rude, and I will go into a speech here in a minute- if you don't get all those fish out soon, they will all perish from ammonia poison and shock.

To make a safe sorority, 10 gallons is the bare minimum, and even then that is small for them.. 6 girls is the very max for a 10 gallon to hold.. not to mention you have a bottom feeder.
To hold all of those fish a 15 gallon would be the bare minimum to keep them healthy and safe, and to keep your tank running smoothly.
Bottom feeders.. well depends on what you have, if you have cories, strongly suggest placing them into a school of 3-4+, so then you would want to get a 20 gallon minimum for all the fish you have.

The 5 gallon can hold only 2 bettas max- and those two bettas will need to be divided, as no 2 females can co-exist together happily.. need more to spread out the unavoidable aggression. Have to keep in mind when buying fish and tanks- throw out the 1 inch per gallon rule. It's utter.. crud.. look at the bio loads of fish, the species, plants, and keep in mind when keeping aggressive fish, the smaller the tank, the more they will feel trapped and will attack.
Female bettas are by no means non-aggressive and they will attack and kill other bettas at the drop of a dime at any time.

If all you can afford is for a 10 gallon, for the bottom feeder.. you may have to rehome if it's a cory, as adding more into the 10 gallon with the 6 girls is pushing it if you aren't covered in nothing but live plants.

Don't forget- when creating a sorority, the tanks NEEDS to be very very densely planted.. a few here and there will not keep the girls safe. They may be fine for right now, but as they grow, they will become more aggressive and without the proper planting and hiding spots, you're going to end up with some hurt/dead fish.

Sororities are a ticking time bomb no matter how experienced one is, and a lot tend to fail (at one point or another you may have to remove a girl or two and permanently rehome them in their own tank).. so you have to make sure to provide the appropriate home for them to give them a chance and co-existing a little bit safer. By nature, and instinct, they aren't schooling fish...

I would find a way to take all of them out of the tank and keep them somewhere safe and warm, and read up on cycling a tank.. this is a easy guide to help you.
You can't just get a tank and dump in a lot of fish sadly.. it takes planning, lots of money and research.. something pet store employees don't tend to tell people who are new to fish keeping. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Not rude at all. I appreciate the help.
All the pet store told me was "yeah buy more... you'll be fine"

While this certainly is not good news I really don't have a lot of options here. I don't know how I would keep all of them safe and warm if I removed them now. My only hope is that they hold out until I get a new tank ready and cycled. I read the article you pointed me to and it is great info. However... In my situation here do you know of any type of "emergency paced" cycle I could perform. Something that would allow me to get these girls into a safer environment faster. Another option - If I got a new tank tomorrow and set it up and put them in would that be better off for them than they are now? I see a really nice 55 gal on craigslist with a stand that I would like to have. I could go get it tomorrow.
 

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I'm trying to remember.. but there are bacteria supplements you can use to help speed up the process. Also, if you have access to another tank that is full set up and has been running, you can place a rock (unwashed) or some gravel, or even part of the filter media into the tank to seed it with the proper bacteria and that should cut down the length quite a bit.

If you decide to add in the fish before you cycle the tank, just make sure to regularly check the water with a liquid test kit (or get it done for free at PetCo/Petsmart) and if you see ammonia build up over .25ppm, then do a small water change (around 10-15% water only) to bring it down. You will want to check a few times a week minimum to keep an eye out for spikes. (Or follow the guide for cycling a tank.)
Throwing in some easy to care for plants will help keep the water a bit safer too- wysteria, java ferns, java moss, raja grass, anubia are just a few that don't need a lot of light, doesn't need fertilizer or even to be rooted in soil. They will help reduce the amount of toxins in the tank by changing them.
Just a suggestion to help get that tank set up and safe quicker.

Some people will also use a fish to make it go quicker- a guppy or a platy, even some shrimp or a snail.

For now, I would do 2x a week water change to help keep the numbers at a safe level in your 5 gallon- both of 25%, with siphoning. The reason I am not suggesting more then a total of 50% is because if the ammonia in your 5 gallon is high, along with the other chemistry.. then doing a large water change can cause them to go into os. shock and become deadly. But rather a couple smaller ones in a week would keep the change at a minimal. I would still continue to monitor the ammonia levels in the 5 gallon as well and if you see ammonia above .25ppm, then do a 10% water change, but continue the 25% regardless of the 10%s.
If you start seeing a lot of aggression, then you can move them into the bigger tank, but be very careful and monitor very carefully as it will be a shock to the system adding in a bunch of fish at once. Or, if you have cups that they usually come in, you can place the aggressive one(s) in there for a few hours to a day then release back into the 5 gallon and that should stop them from being aggressive for a bit longer.

Please ask if you have any more questions, we don't judge you, nor want to put you down.. we've all made mistakes starting out, so we just want to help you get everything set up properly so you and your family can enjoy the aquatic world happily, safely for a long time. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you VERY much for all the info and advise.
I printed and highlighted what I need to do and will start immed.

I do have another question for now. When I get the larger tank (I am looking at a 46gal and a 55gal just based on availability and price) since they take so much water can I use tap water (treated well) or do I need to buy 50 gallons of water from the grocery store?
Thank you!

Oh wait.. one more thing. should I assume that my filter system (seems like a really nice one - fluval) that came with my 5 gal would not work for such a large tank or is there a chance it would be okay. Reason I am asking is I recently purchased 75 bucks worth of replacement filters. (all 3 stages of filters)
Thanks
 

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Thank you VERY much for all the info and advise.
I printed and highlighted what I need to do and will start immed.

I do have another question for now. When I get the larger tank (I am looking at a 46gal and a 55gal just based on availability and price) since they take so much water can I use tap water (treated well) or do I need to buy 50 gallons of water from the grocery store?
Thank you!

Oh wait.. one more thing. should I assume that my filter system (seems like a really nice one - fluval) that came with my 5 gal would not work for such a large tank or is there a chance it would be okay. Reason I am asking is I recently purchased 75 bucks worth of replacement filters. (all 3 stages of filters)
Thanks
You need to use water conditioner. Chlorine is toxic to fish. Also, bottled water isn't very good for them as it tends to lack the minerals they need that tap water provides. If you can, get a bottle of Seacham Prime, it's 2 drops per gallon of water, so is the best water conditioner for your money. It'll last a lot longer than any other brand.

Secondly, you will need a water filter rated at least for the size of your tank. Even better is getting a filter rated for twice. My 15gal sorority has a filter rated for 30 gallons. The water is noticeably clearer than when I used a 15gal filter.
 

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I can't add anything to Myates excellent instructions except for this: I would suggest posting a picture of your mysterious bottom feeder so that we can identify it and let you know what it needs in terms of care and housing. :)
 

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Forgot to mention I also change all 3 filters once every 2 weeks.
I'm not sure if this was already covered, but do not do this.

Every time you do this, you are killing off all your beneficial bacteria and re-setting your whole cycle.

The only thing I use in all my filters is sponge and all I do with this, is give it a gentle swish and squeeze out in a bucket of old tank water.

If you have charcoal or any ammonia-removing products in your filter you might as well throw these in the bin and purchase either sponge or some kind of bio balls. This will give your beneficial bacteria maximum surface area to colonise.

It is a fallacy spouted by companies that you need to regularly change your filter media. They only want to sell more product.

If that was me, I would be finding the biggest filter possible and stuffing that tank full of fast-growing stem plants. If you have the right light and fertilise them regularly, the amount of ammonia they can utilise is astounding.

I had a small sorority (7 gallons and 5 females) that was never cycled, but that never had any ammonia readings as I had so heavily planted it, and did partial water changes every few days for the first month.

Definitely gravel vac regularly. With no live plants to utilise the waste that accumulates on the substrate, you are only going to be leeching ammonia out into the water column.

Fish should not die from vacuuming the substrate. In most tanks, it should be an essential part of weekly maintenance.

Also I highly recommend purchasing a liquid test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. Trying to cycle without test kits is like trying to do it blind. You cannot tell the quality of your water just by looking at it, and in fact, some of the most toxic water can appear crystal clear.

Good luck. It's great to see you care enough to seek advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You need to use water conditioner. Chlorine is toxic to fish. Also, bottled water isn't very good for them as it tends to lack the minerals they need that tap water provides. If you can, get a bottle of Seacham Prime, it's 2 drops per gallon of water, so is the best water conditioner for your money. It'll last a lot longer than any other brand.

Secondly, you will need a water filter rated at least for the size of your tank. Even better is getting a filter rated for twice. My 15gal sorority has a filter rated for 30 gallons. The water is noticeably clearer than when I used a 15gal filter.
Thank you very much
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I can't add anything to Myates excellent instructions except for this: I would suggest posting a picture of your mysterious bottom feeder so that we can identify it and let you know what it needs in terms of care and housing. :)
Actually I was thinking about taking the bottom feeder out.
Good idea?
bad idea?
I figured until I have the girls in a larger cycled tank the bottom feeder is only making things worse.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm not sure if this was already covered, but do not do this.

Every time you do this, you are killing off all your beneficial bacteria and re-setting your whole cycle.

The only thing I use in all my filters is sponge and all I do with this, is give it a gentle swish and squeeze out in a bucket of old tank water.

If you have charcoal or any ammonia-removing products in your filter you might as well throw these in the bin and purchase either sponge or some kind of bio balls. This will give your beneficial bacteria maximum surface area to colonise.

It is a fallacy spouted by companies that you need to regularly change your filter media. They only want to sell more product.

If that was me, I would be finding the biggest filter possible and stuffing that tank full of fast-growing stem plants. If you have the right light and fertilise them regularly, the amount of ammonia they can utilise is astounding.

I had a small sorority (7 gallons and 5 females) that was never cycled, but that never had any ammonia readings as I had so heavily planted it, and did partial water changes every few days for the first month.

Definitely gravel vac regularly. With no live plants to utilise the waste that accumulates on the substrate, you are only going to be leeching ammonia out into the water column.

Fish should not die from vacuuming the substrate. In most tanks, it should be an essential part of weekly maintenance.

Also I highly recommend purchasing a liquid test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. Trying to cycle without test kits is like trying to do it blind. You cannot tell the quality of your water just by looking at it, and in fact, some of the most toxic water can appear crystal clear.

Good luck. It's great to see you care enough to seek advice.
Interesting. Doesn't the carbon filter remove odors? That was my understanding and the reason I changed it so often.

Any advise on plants? Beside previously mentioned. I def want to go with all live plants. Some with color would be great if possible????

Agreed and I don't think the vacuming persay is what killed my 2 beta's but more likely the shock of everything I did. (basically removed and cleaned everything - now i know was stupid) still makes me nervous to disturb to much of their environment.

Thank you for everything. To all.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
UPDATE:
Non of the aquariums I was looking at on craigslist worked out.
I ended up getting a 28 gallon bowfront.
I am ready to set it up and get it running but have a few questions that I have come up with along the way.

1. Assuming my 6 girls make it long enough to get into the new home which I think they will as they seem to be doing very well. I have been keeping the 5 gal okay using the test kit and doing water changes. Also added 6 live plants.
Any thoughts on how many live plants I should put in the new one to keep a good balance?
For example (8) 8" plantings and (4) 4-6" plantings...

2. How much of the old water from the 5 gal should I transfer to the new tank (not sure if it has bad bacteria or not - cloudy water) ??? Non, a little, all of it....????

3. Please give me any tips or advise you can that will give the girls the best chance at happiness during the change over.


I'm not sure when I will transfer them to the new tank. Depends on how the old tank holds up. I would like to hold off as long as I can while following the cycling instructions but will have to wait and see. There may be a point where it is better for them if they move than to keep waiting.

Oh. One more thing. The bottom feeder is gone. Went to grandma's house permanently.
 

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Don't worry about transferring the water.. Put the gravel in the new tank without washing it. You can try and put your filter cartridge in for a bit too.
With live plants, stop using the carbon.. You will have to buy plant fertilizers with that many plants, and carbon actually absorbs all the nutrients your plants need..
For a sorority you want a lot of plants.. You may have to buy some large fake ones until the real ones manage to fill up your tank..
There is probably a point in the cycle where you can put your girls in, somewhere after the ammonia spikes maybe, but I'm not sure, someone else could help you with that.
 
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