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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I set up my 29-gallon tank almost a month ago, and it's still cycling with consistent ammonia spikes and pH crashes.

Last week, I got cloudy water that left a white film on everything in the tank—plants, rocks, on the substrate and even on one betta—the pH dropped overnight from a steady 6.8 to 6.0 or less and ammonia was 1ppm from 0.25ppm. I did daily 50% water changes until the ammonia was back down to somewhere between 0 and 0.25. I regularly added Prime and AmmoLock (I alternated because I have some AmmoLock I want to use up). I also added some crushed coral rock to the filter to help balance the KH and GH.

The tank seemed fine until this morning, 7 days later. pH was 7.0, and last night ammonia was between 0 and 0.25ppm. This morning the tank is reading somewhere between 2 and 4ppm for ammonia, which I have never seen before, and the pH dropped to 6.6. The water is a tiny bit cloudy but nothing like last time.

I use Eco-Complete as a substrate and it's a low-tech planted tank. There is 1 inch in the front and 3 in the back. I've heard sometimes Eco-Complete can cause ammonia spikes? Not sure if that's what's happening. I also poured out most of that "bacteria water" that comes in the bag.

I also filled out the Betta Emergencies sticky in case it helps:

Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 29 gallons
Does it have a filter? Two, one for each side of the divided tank
Does it have a heater? Two, one for each side of the divided tank
What temperature is your tank? 78F but it was hot this week so sometimes it was 80F.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No.
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? Just two bettas, each has 15 gallons to himself.

Food:
What food brand do you use? NewLife Spectrum.
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets.
Freeze-dried? Bloodworms once every week or two.
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Once a day, about 4 pellets.

Maintenance:
PWC once or twice a week, usually 25% each time or 50% at once. Before last week though I was doing about 10% a day, and someone on the Forum advised against that (I think it was @Hallyx?) saying that several small water changes can throw off parameters or cause a crash or something.
I vacuumed the substrate, I add Prime and LeafZone and sometimes StressGuard (Seachem).

Water Parameters:
Ammonia: 2-4ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
pH: 6.6 down from 6.8/7.0
Hardness (GH): 2dGH
Alkalinity (KH): 2dKH

Symptoms and Treatment:
Fish seem fine.

Pictures
Here are two pictures, one of the whole tank and one of the white film that appeared last week. It's mostly gone now but I noticed that some plants have been glazed by this white stuff again.
 

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Reference Team
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Darn! I thought we had that licked. Sorry to hear you're back with pH drops and ammonia spikes. I thought the crushed coral was working for you. Maybe you need more.

I'm not clear as to whether EcoComplete causes ammonia spikes. Ammonia can be controlled with water changes and Prime.

The tank will have an easier time cycling with a higher pH. To that end, you might get an airstone in there to aerate the water; bacteria like that. It should also raise the pH some by out-gassing CO2 (which lowers pH).

See if your plants will do OK with a little less fertilizer.

You might consider Tetra Safestart to get the cycle done quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hopefully this works this time!

1) Crushed coral. Could limestone or a similar type of rock help too?

2) Airstone. I've been considering getting one, but I really don't like the look of bubbles. Maybe I can get away with using one just during the tank cycling.

3) Skip fertilizer until done cycling and

4) Tetra SafeStart. Not a bad idea, I'll get a bottle of the stuff this weekend.

Thanks again!

I wonder what could be causing this? :/.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alright it's just me then? Haha cool
 

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1) Add any mineral hardness enhancer slowly. Limestone would work if crushed coral doesn't do it for you.

2) Bubbles are not mandatory ;-} You can skip the airstone. You're already raising hardness the permanent way.

What's causing it is your soft water. Until it's remediated or compensated for, your pH will be unstable and low.
 

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Its hard for me to tell, but are those Drift wood or rocks?

Wood can cause PH crashes, especially when it hasn't been boiled. The tannins lower the ph, and if there isn't enough buffer then the buffer gets used up(wood leaches faster then coral). So if that is drift wood, you are going to need more coral and some hard rocks or some shells. You can also try boiling the drift wood to leach more tannins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It is driftwood. All the pieces are at least a few months old... but I never boiled them. That's a good idea, I sold have done that. Thanks @trahana
 
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