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back story: After my last betta passed, i restarted my 5.5gal tank (organic soiled topped with gravel, 1 anubias and a few small java fern) but still felt a bit discouraged so i left it to sit for a couple months (heated and filtered). Id misplaced my test kit but honestly couldnt be bothered and only touched the tank when it needed to be topped off, which was maybe 2-3x a week since the water evaporated so quickly (lidless)
Was in a bit of a rut during that time and i regret neglecting it when i couldve been properly cycling my tank that whole time.

Couple weeks ago i got motivated and decided id try again with that tank, id meant to get tools, a new api test kit and some more plants but id ended up walking out with a new betta as well as everything else. i know, it wasnt smart at all to impulse buy a betta but he is STUNNING (atleast to me)

I got home, i replaced 50% of the water, sanitized the plants, dumped them in and got Buddy (the betta) settled.


The Problem: i assumed id crashed the cycle since i wasnt actively feeding the beneficial bacteria and there wasnt a high enough population to deal with the new bioload
Ive been pretty much doing a fish-in cycle since my tests always read .25/0/0
The past week itself has been .25/0/0
Ive been doing daily 15% partial water changes with 30% once a week

the results were the same before and directly after the water changes. I felt dumb for not realizing it could be my tap water, so i tested it and yep: .25/0/0

Ive been dosing seachem prime each PWC, but will i be seeing nitrates anytime soon?

Another issue: sunlight hits one face of the tank, only for a couple hours in the morning usually but with summer i guess it was enough light for blue-green algae to grow. It was only a bit pressed up against the glass under the substrate so i wasnt too bothered, but since the daily PWCs it seems to be growing more rapidly??
A couple days ago I added some leftover fluorite black to keep my plants in place as well as giving the BB more area, and already the bluegreen algae has grown over it.
(just between the new layer of substrate and glass)

Ive since blacked it out with a small strip of cardboard blocking the light but why is it growing so fast now? i read somewhere that ammonium is more readily available to cyanobacteria and it will out-compete other bacteria for it, is this true?
Or is it from the fluorite black?


Relevant info:

Filter: aquaclear 20, stuffed with a floss-sponge-biomax sandwich (and some moss hanging off the outflow as a baffle)

Temperature: 79-80 (ive got saran wrap as a lid til i figure something out)

Substrate: Organic vegetable soil, assorted gravel, fluorite black,

Deco: various pebbles and rocks, mopani and pear wood

Plants: (excuse my latin i forget how to spell most of these)
Assorted anubias of which i forget the variety, got a tiny one, spade leaf, and 2 regular(??) ones

Salvinia minima
Java fern: 1 big, 3 small
Pothos with stems submerged
Hygrophila
Ludwigia
some type of moss, i want to say christmas?
One of the “assorted” petsmart plants. No clue what it is, but it looks like a java fern with thinner crinkled leaves and thick roots

Parameters: .25/0/0 (i am so very sick of looking at these numbers)

Fauna: 1 betta, and who knows how many pest snails? (Ive been taking them out whenever i see them and putting them in my 1gal snail sanctuary)
 

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Im also now seeing a couple red-brown hydra after staring at my tank floor, is this a concern?

Also i just realized i forgot to say thanks in advance, and also Hello.
Sorry about that
 

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Welcome to the Forum! :wave:

Here is this Forum's fish-in cycle. I've never done fishless so don't know about that.
https://www.bettafish.com/30-betta-fish-care/507585-cycling-two-sentence-tutorial.html

Here's the short version of why you see Ammonia when using SeaChem Prime and an API test.

API measures "Total Ammonia;" both NH3 ("Free" or toxic) and NH4 (Ammonium and non-toxic). It does not differentiate between the two. When we use Prime the NH3 is neutralized but there is still NH4. Since API reads TA what you are seeing is NH4/Ammonium. I have a SeaChem Ammonia Alert on all of my tanks as it *only* measure NH3. However, when cycling, I still do a 25% water change if Ammonia registers .25ppm.

I had the same problem as you. I blacked the aquarium for a week and then used background on both sides and the back and put my lights on a timer for four hours. I have all low-light plants. I'm sure there's something else you can do. Not sure if anything eats cyanobacteria?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you, Russell!
I did just find out about the api kit not differentiating between ammonium/ammonia after looking into why my tap water has ammonia.

The problem is whatever ammonium i take out of the tank, i add back in with the tap water, and it feels like im trapped into dosing prime every 24hrs

Though, i did also just read that theres a margin of error of .25ppm, so hypothetically i could have 0-.5 ppm of ammonia hahaha

For the blue-green algae i will just keep it blacked out for now, im not keen on using chemicals. I see a lot of tiny darting things (copepods?) around the gravel that does have BGA, maybe they eat it? or maybe theyre just having a party

Theres a lot of people on various forums talking about ecological balance being the key to controlling pest/algae populations, but im not good with biology

Maybe i should just wait for my tank to be a bit more established and see if things correct themselves

On that note, i cant find the hydra anymore x)
 

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Oops i missed my edit window but

Ive reread through the fish-in cycle method you linked. Id been following the one on reddit:
“Water changes. Daily or every other day, 1/3 to 1/2 of the water depending on the ammonia concentration. Change it every time it gets above 0.25ppm to be safe”

I think today ill just dose prime and skip the water change and test the parameters now and then again in the evening and see if anything changes

Im a bit worried about what will happen if my ammonia spikes up, since due to my tap water parameters, id be unable to dilute the ammonia in my tank efficiently

I might be being a bit dramatic, i know i wont have to dose prime daily forever but it feels like this will be on the longer end of how long it takes to cycle
 

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Re the cyanobacteria, i would suggest you add hornwort to the tank.
See this link
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratophyllum_demersum

The hornwort out competes the blue green algae, and it effectively starves.

I thought this sounded too good to be true, but decided to try it in my 70litre tank.
Was delighted to find it worked like a charm.
I had been removing areas of cyanobacteria whenever i noticed them (it was spreading v slowly through moss and over anubias).
2 weeks after adding the hornwort, the cyano had melted to a black film.
A week later, gone altogether.
Was delighted!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Tyvm BlueSamphire :) !
Funny enough id gotten hornwort the day i bought Buddy and removed it a week later because of how it shed its needles :(
Good thing its relatively inexpensive
I should read more into allelopathy!
 

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I'm sure you know to not plant the Hornwort. It doesn't develop true roots. And if you can find Ceratophyllum *submersum* (Soft Hornwort) it doesn't shed like demersum. Aquatic Arts claims to have submersum but I haven't bought from them to know for sure.
 

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Oops i missed my edit window but

Ive reread through the fish-in cycle method you linked. Id been following the one on reddit:
“Water changes. Daily or every other day, 1/3 to 1/2 of the water depending on the ammonia concentration. Change it every time it gets above 0.25ppm to be safe”

I think today ill just dose prime and skip the water change and test the parameters now and then again in the evening and see if anything changes

Im a bit worried about what will happen if my ammonia spikes up, since due to my tap water parameters, id be unable to dilute the ammonia in my tank efficiently

I might be being a bit dramatic, i know i wont have to dose prime daily forever but it feels like this will be on the longer end of how long it takes to cycle
I had the same problem with ammonium in the tap when I cycled my last tank but mine was reading 1PPM. I did a few things, first I got an ammonia alert, I got really tired of not knowing which type of the ammonia was in the tank and if I had to be concerned. Once I did that I could breath a bit easier and stop fretting constantly, I also cut back on the water changes and started doing them two to three times a week instead of every other day. After that I broke down and got Dr. Tim's One and Only https://store.drtimsaquatics.com/one-only-nitrifying-bacteria.html to help things along. I got that one because it has great reviews, if you have a different one you prefer use that. The tank finished cycling a few weeks after that, and since then I have not had a problem with the tank showing an ammonia reading. The beneficial bacteria handles the ammonium in the tap water and I generally only change 25 to 50% of the water.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh thats great news, Rainbo
It’s a relief to hear.

I think ill cut down on my water changes as well and grab some bottled bacteria too :)

Also very nice to know about the soft hornwort, i did float the one i got but i think it shed its leaves while adjusting to new tank conditions.
 

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Oh thats great news, Rainbo
It’s a relief to hear.

I think ill cut down on my water changes as well and grab some bottled bacteria too :)

Also very nice to know about the soft hornwort, i did float the one i got but i think it shed its leaves while adjusting to new tank conditions.
If you get demersum I'd be tempted to float in a separate container until it finished shedding. I've had demersum melt and come back and had it not come back. I have somewhat hard water.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Also not sure how to link photos correctly but i tested my water again and it looks to be 0/0/0

Its been 9 hours since my last test, i usually do it every 24 hrs (around the same time each morning)

So im either: A) a bit of a bubble head and wasnt looking at my tube in the correct lighting
or
B) ????
 
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