Betta in Spec V, new girl needs some advice! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Betta in Spec V, new girl needs some advice!

Hello, I am very new here, just created my intro post tonight. I have spent several hours over the last days reading lots of posts but decided it would be so much easier to start my own! I have a new Spec V I want to set up with plants for my Betta, Rex. He is currently housed in a 5.5 gal Topfin but after spending money on various low light plants and Nerite snails and losing them I decided to upgrade. I am not only new here, but new to fishkeeping so I have a lot of questions and not much confidence!

I have well water with a salt based softener. I don't know much about GH & KH but am learning and suspect that may have had some impact as to my plant and snail loss. I am going to buy a PH, GH & KH test kit for sure. Right now I just test Ammonia, Nitrates & Nitrite which have always been 0.

I am struggling to choose my substrate. I have only used small gravel from Petco in my existing tank so Anubius & Marimo is about all I have in it. I am wanting to venture out in the Spec V with more plant variety. I love the carpet look. I like the cost aspect of the Montmorillite clay I could buy at Tractor Supply but have read the M clay products such as Safe T Sorb can impact parameters and wonder if it would be wise to go that route considering my already soft water. Could I supplement to bring parameters in line if need be? Would it even be worth it? My other thought was Seachem Flourite.

I have *almost decided to get the Hydor 50w and hide it in the sump chamber of the Spec V. Do heaters really fail "ON" and kill fish?? I read that in Amazon reviews and was shocked to read even the more expensive heaters do this!! I run 2 25w preset Tetra heaters in my Topfin and haven't had that problem. The water stays between 77-79. Would it be safer to go with a preset or can they fail "ON" as well and cook the fish? Is getting an external temp control unit the only recourse? I would need to buy 2 for my 2 tanks so yikes, these little Betta setups are getting pricey!

Any recommendations or advice are welcome
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 08:20 AM
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Welcome to the forum. Others with more knowledge will chime in Im sure.
I would get the test kits first and figure out what your actually dealing with. Test the water initially out of the tap and again after it has sat out for 24-48 hrs to offgas and settle in. This will tell you if/what you need to adjust and then you can get advice on what to use to adjust as necessary.

Heaters can fail low/high/off/on. Just depends. Doesnt happen all the time but can. The external controllers are your best bet, something I need to get also.

Substrate, well theres about a few thousand different opinions/preferences/theories/facts centering around what to use and another few thousand on how to use it. Figure out what you want to grow, if you want to use CO2, and what look you are going for. I use sekrete medium commercial sand in both my tanks (basically pool filter sand but 100lbs for 10 bucks) and have been doing pretty good for low tech without any issues related to the substrate.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Shoregirl View Post
Hello, I am very new here, just created my intro post tonight. I have spent several hours over the last days reading lots of posts but decided it would be so much easier to start my own! I have a new Spec V I want to set up with plants for my Betta, Rex. He is currently housed in a 5.5 gal Topfin but after spending money on various low light plants and Nerite snails and losing them I decided to upgrade. I am not only new here, but new to fishkeeping so I have a lot of questions and not much confidence!

I have well water with a salt based softener. I don't know much about GH & KH but am learning and suspect that may have had some impact as to my plant and snail loss. I am going to buy a PH, GH & KH test kit for sure. Right now I just test Ammonia, Nitrates & Nitrite which have always been 0.

I am struggling to choose my substrate. I have only used small gravel from Petco in my existing tank so Anubius & Marimo is about all I have in it. I am wanting to venture out in the Spec V with more plant variety. I love the carpet look. I like the cost aspect of the Montmorillite clay I could buy at Tractor Supply but have read the M clay products such as Safe T Sorb can impact parameters and wonder if it would be wise to go that route considering my already soft water. Could I supplement to bring parameters in line if need be? Would it even be worth it? My other thought was Seachem Flourite.

I have *almost decided to get the Hydor 50w and hide it in the sump chamber of the Spec V. Do heaters really fail "ON" and kill fish?? I read that in Amazon reviews and was shocked to read even the more expensive heaters do this!! I run 2 25w preset Tetra heaters in my Topfin and haven't had that problem. The water stays between 77-79. Would it be safer to go with a preset or can they fail "ON" as well and cook the fish? Is getting an external temp control unit the only recourse? I would need to buy 2 for my 2 tanks so yikes, these little Betta setups are getting pricey!

Any recommendations or advice are welcome
Hello and welcome! This forum is a pretty great place with a lot of different opinions. The great thing is that generally speaking all the different opinions will lead to success, just different ways of getting there.

First as an owner of the Spec V I can say its a really great tank. The light is pretty decent and the filtration is quite nice out of the box. That said, the topfin tank is not a death trap. The light is no good but everything else will keep fish, snails, and shrimp alive with little needed in modification. So while the light is an upgrade and the footprint is different that is about where the differences end.

If you are losing snails my guess is that either your water parameters are really far off or there is nothing for them to eat if its a relatively new tank. If its been around for a month or more and you are losing snails.. then its probably your water.

Regarding water. Just because you have a water softener system does not mean your water is "soft". Given that it is well water its much much more likely you have hard water. Especially since you live in Maryland. I'm in central maryland but to my knowledge pretty much the entire state that is not in the mountains has a limestone bedrock which makes for very hard water.

So I am going to echo Quint and say that top priority is getting that testing equipment and seeing what you have to work with in your water.

Regarding heaters, they all have the potential to fail. But its also pretty rare. I've never had one fail and I've been keeping fish on and off since I was a kid 3 decades ago. Others have had it happen and a lot of people that have had it happen write bad reviews.

I would use a single heater of appropriate size and not worry about it. Just use a name brand product.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input Quint & Minorhero! I have had my Topfin up for 10 months. I got it to replace a smaller 3.5 gallon round Topfin Bettaflo which I had up for 8 months. There is a bit of algae as I have it in a west facing window. Not a ton, but I have always had Nerites (2) to keep it in check. So I know they didn't starve. Suddenly my 2 that had been in there for 4-5 months died. I got two more and they died right away. The only thing I have done different is I have been using API Leaf Zone once a week. I wonder if that is the culprit! I have the API root tabs in there too.... Regardless, I will follow your advice and get the test kit. Now I need to start researching Nerite care! I had no idea they had any special requirements. My mom has a huge tank filled with Discus, Angels, Pleco, Glow fish and tons of plants and snails. She never doses ferts, nor CO2 but the tank is thriving. I am getting the feeling small planted tanks are harder to maintain?

Is it true I should discard the carbon filter with live plants? Maybe that is why I have trouble growing in my Topfin....I bought filter floss, 100 micron filter pad and Seachem Purigen for added filtration for the Spec. I will add it to the TF too. May try to rig up a different lid and a better light for the TF.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 08:23 PM
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The spec V is a great choice for a betta; I'm sure Rex will love it. In addition to what the others recommended, you might want to consider something to dampen or disperse the outflow from the filter. It can be a bit much for bettas, especially those with long fins. Many people put a piece of aquarium sponge over the nozzle to disperse the current. I'm sure you'll find examples here on the boards.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 09:59 PM
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Your water softener is more than likely the ion exchange type where it simply takes a sodium ion and exchange it for calcium ion in water. What you end up with is water that is very high in sodium. That is probably what is killing your plants. Plus water softener does absolutely nothing to remove other contaminates from water.

Best thing you could do for that aquarium is to start buying RO filtered drinking water at market and start using that for your water changes. In 5 gal betta aquarium where a 1gal water change at most is needed per week there really isn’t a good excuse not to start with as clean a source water as you can in that small a tank. A gallon of RO drinking water at most costs .80Ę around here,

With RO water you basically have super pure water, free of all excess nitrates, pesticides or any other undesirable contamination that may get into some aquifers via farm and industrial runoff. All you need to do is get some seachem equilibrium to add in the right levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium back into water. .75 teaspoon will put GH right at about 4GH. A $7 jar of equilibrium will last you a very long time doing 1 gal water changes.

Your betta and plants would also like it if you added a couple small almond or oak leaf to tank.

Here’s my change water for 6 gal betta/tetra tank, note slight yellow tint, these are softwater fish and they thrive in waters with just a hint of tannins/humic and fulvic acids in water.

Those are small almond leaves in bucket I pulled out of tank and let set in my change water overnight to prep it so PH stabilizes.



Finnigan the betta is super happy and plants grow so fast I can hardly keep up with them.




Last edited by DaveKS; 12-15-2019 at 10:02 PM. Reason: Content
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-16-2019, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shoregirl View Post
Hello, I am very new here, just created my intro post tonight. I have spent several hours over the last days reading lots of posts but decided it would be so much easier to start my own! I have a new Spec V I want to set up with plants for my Betta, Rex. He is currently housed in a 5.5 gal Topfin but after spending money on various low light plants and Nerite snails and losing them I decided to upgrade. I am not only new here, but new to fishkeeping so I have a lot of questions and not much confidence!

I have well water with a salt based softener. I don't know much about GH & KH but am learning and suspect that may have had some impact as to my plant and snail loss. I am going to buy a PH, GH & KH test kit for sure. Right now I just test Ammonia, Nitrates & Nitrite which have always been 0.

I am struggling to choose my substrate. I have only used small gravel from Petco in my existing tank so Anubius & Marimo is about all I have in it. I am wanting to venture out in the Spec V with more plant variety. I love the carpet look. I like the cost aspect of the Montmorillite clay I could buy at Tractor Supply but have read the M clay products such as Safe T Sorb can impact parameters and wonder if it would be wise to go that route considering my already soft water. Could I supplement to bring parameters in line if need be? Would it even be worth it? My other thought was Seachem Flourite.

I have *almost decided to get the Hydor 50w and hide it in the sump chamber of the Spec V. Do heaters really fail "ON" and kill fish?? I read that in Amazon reviews and was shocked to read even the more expensive heaters do this!! I run 2 25w preset Tetra heaters in my Topfin and haven't had that problem. The water stays between 77-79. Would it be safer to go with a preset or can they fail "ON" as well and cook the fish? Is getting an external temp control unit the only recourse? I would need to buy 2 for my 2 tanks so yikes, these little Betta setups are getting pricey!

Any recommendations or advice are welcome
Welcome to the forums and fishkeeping!
As a fellow betta lover/owner I want to say thank you for keeping yours in a decent sized tank! So many keep them in way too tiny a tank...

GH or general hardness
Quote:
General hardness, also known as water hardness, is referred to as GH for short. It’s basically the measure of the many salts that are dissolved in your water. In particular, calcium and magnesium.

Water with a low GH is said to be soft, and water with a high GH is considered hard.

So, soft water has very little or no calcium and magnesium. Hard water has a lot.

While GH is an important part of water chemistry, most of you using tap water don’t need to worry about it.

You see, your GH entirely depends on your water source. Most tap water generally has sufficient GH so that you’ll never have problems with it.
https://fishlab.com/aquarium-gh/

KH or carbinate hardness
Quote:
Carbonate hardness is referred to as KH for short. It’s basically a measure of carbonates (CO3) and bicarbonates (HCO3) dissolved in your water.

Don’t worry! You don’t need to remember those words. You just need to know what KH is and why it’s important. And, that is actually simple…

Think of KH as a protective barrier that surrounds your pH. As your aquarium creates acids, they eat away at KH instead of affecting your pH

However, this barrier is not permanent and once gone, your pH is free to move around again.

The higher the KH of your aquarium, the more acid it can neutralize before the pH is affected.

KH is invisible. While it exists in your water, you won’t be able to know how much is there without a special test kit.
https://fishlab.com/aquarium-kh/

So GHimportant if you are keeping snails/shrimp (calcium is good for shrimp shells but remember gh may be more magnesium than calcium-if you see holes in shells you may want to supplement calcium, google "snello recipes" or "egg shells for aquarium")
Kh determins how easily you pH can swing. Stable pH is important like consistent temperature-sudden swings in pH can stress fish.
You can drop pH from tannins from driftwood and leaf litter (indian almond/cappa leaves), or raise pH (and hardness) from crush coral, lime stone, and some rocks. how much of these things you needs to change you pH depends on your kH.

Keeping the 'common' betta (veiltail, plakat, halfmoon, crowntail, etc etc etc) they tolerate a huge range of pH and water hardness so don't worry that.

I'd like to note that a 5g tank is too small for a nerite snail, especially a new tank. Nerties don't eat fish food, preferring algae on the glass/plants/decor. I'd suggest a 10g at least for a nerite, and a tank that has been running for several months (plenty of that brown algae (diatoms) on the glass)... Also note if you get the nerite at a pet store-if they're all just kept in a small specimen container and not free roaming in a tank.. they're not in good health-starving and dieing in high ammonia conditions.

As for heater, sadly all heaters have failure issues. I've had the best luck with hydro theo adjustable heaters in the past. However I keep all my heaters on temperature controllers now (cost extra$20-30) to keep them from cooking fish.




Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post

Finnigan the betta is super happy and plants grow so fast I can hardly keep up with them.



https://youtu.be/-YIjKAIN80o
I love how opal-like your Finnegan's fins looks as he moves from the LED

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-16-2019, 05:10 AM
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I love how opal-like your Finnegan's fins looks as he moves from the LED
The label on little cup he was in called him a rose gold and you can see that in him in dimmer light areas and when fins are down but when he displays with his fins up and in stronger light that opal glow kicks in to what you see in that video.

Great temperament too, gets along great with his tetra tank mates.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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The spec V is a great choice for a betta; I'm sure Rex will love it. In addition to what the others recommended, you might want to consider something to dampen or disperse the outflow from the filter. It can be a bit much for bettas, especially those with long fins. Many people put a piece of aquarium sponge over the nozzle to disperse the current. I'm sure you'll find examples here on the boards.
Thank you irishspy. I had read about the outflow and will see how this one does. I read the newer specs have an adjustment switch. I realize it may not be enough though. Sponge over the nozzle sounds like a great idea! I am going to set it up stock 1st and see how it does with the heater in the sump chamber. If I have problems heating, I also read I should put a few small holes in the uptake tube. That may reduce the outflow as well.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Your water softener is more than likely the ion exchange type where it simply takes a sodium ion and exchange it for calcium ion in water. What you end up with is water that is very high in sodium. That is probably what is killing your plants. Plus water softener does absolutely nothing to remove other contaminates from water.

Thank you DaveKS. I do also have a whole house filter. My mother has a salt water softener on well water like mine and her fish thrive. She does not have the added whole house filter.


Your betta and plants would also like it if you added a couple small almond or oak leaf to tank.

Hereís my change water for 6 gal betta/tetra tank, note slight yellow tint, these are softwater fish and they thrive in waters with just a hint of tannins/humic and fulvic acids in water.

I have some oak leaves from my yard ready to go! No pesticides.

Those are small almond leaves in bucket I pulled out of tank and let set in my change water overnight to prep it so PH stabilizes.



Finnigan the betta is super happy and plants grow so fast I can hardly keep up with them.



https://youtu.be/-YIjKAIN80o
Finegan and his tank are stunning!!! Lucky betta!!
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Your water softener is more than likely the ion exchange type where it simply takes a sodium ion and exchange it for calcium ion in water. What you end up with is water that is very high in sodium. That is probably what is killing your plants. Plus water softener does absolutely nothing to remove other contaminates from water.
Thank you DaveKS. I do also have a whole house filter. My mother has a salt water softener on well water like mine and her fish thrive. She does not have the added whole house filter. I did just receive my test supplies though and if things don't look right will go the RO route you suggested.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS:
Your betta and plants would also like it if you added a couple small almond or oak leaf to tank.

Hereís my change water for 6 gal betta/tetra tank, note slight yellow tint, these are softwater fish and they thrive in waters with just a hint of tannins/humic and fulvic acids in water.
I have some oak leaves from my yard ready to go! No pesticides. I must say Finegan and his tank are stunning!!! Lucky betta!!
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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I tested my tap and tank water today.

Tap PH 7.6 Tank PH 7.6

Tap KH 30 Tank KH 27

Tap GH 1 Tank GH 1

Tank ammonia 0
" " nitrite 0
" " nitrate 10

I Googled ideal tank parameters but unfortunately did not get consistant recommendations. 1 site said GH 3-4 KH 3-5. Another said GH 30-60 and KH 80-120

Nontheless, mine are not like either of those reference points and my PH is a bit high. I did read the autumn leaves could help lower PH but does anyone have input on the GH KH? Does it make sense that my KH would be so much higher than GH? Uggh....science & math are NOT my strong suits
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-18-2019, 05:01 AM
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AquaAurora pretty much summed it up with the GH/KH/PH info in above post. Some confusion can be had because of the different readings depending on how you test for GH and KH. I forgot the different names just see what your test kit says it reads out in.

Looks to me the KH is good as it will keep your PH stable. IMHO be more concerned with GH then PH. With a higher KH its going to take more then a few leaves to adjust the PH.

There are different tank parameters for different fish. Hence why its best to research which fish can handle your natural water parameters with minimal adjustments. Ill let the experts chime in on your parameters as I am not sure that KH reading which scale its on. Your probably looking at using a GH booster however to get the GH up some.

Wanted to add that the leaves are still a good idea as they have good natural things that promote healthy fish/shrimp, good source of food for shrimps, makes a more natural environment however dont expect much of a PH change.


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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-18-2019, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Shoregirl View Post
Hello, I am very new here, just created my intro post tonight. I have spent several hours over the last days reading lots of posts but decided it would be so much easier to start my own! I have a new Spec V I want to set up with plants for my Betta, Rex. He is currently housed in a 5.5 gal Topfin but after spending money on various low light plants and Nerite snails and losing them I decided to upgrade. I am not only new here, but new to fishkeeping so I have a lot of questions and not much confidence!

Good for you. I have a 5.5 gallon Topfin I bought as a quarantine tank, but I couldn't resist adding a betta, and the some swords. (Main tank is a 55 gallon Oceanic.)



Quote:

I have well water with a salt based softener. I don't know much about GH & KH but am learning and suspect that may have had some impact as to my plant and snail loss. I am going to buy a PH, GH & KH test kit for sure. Right now I just test Ammonia, Nitrates & Nitrite which have always been 0.

Testing for nitrogen cycle products is a very good start. If you are softening well water, you may have somewhat low hardness, so testing for pH, GH and KH is the logical next step. Best to test water in your tank and not water fresh from the tap; it will not have aired out and, while GH will give a meaningful measurement, pH and KH will not until it does. I have a long and (I confess) highly technical article on this whose link I have discovered is not working; will have to tend to it after I get home from work.



Quote:

I am struggling to choose my substrate. I have only used small gravel from Petco in my existing tank so Anubius & Marimo is about all I have in it. I am wanting to venture out in the Spec V with more plant variety. I love the carpet look. I like the cost aspect of the Montmorillite clay I could buy at Tractor Supply but have read the M clay products such as Safe T Sorb can impact parameters and wonder if it would be wise to go that route considering my already soft water. Could I supplement to bring parameters in line if need be? Would it even be worth it? My other thought was Seachem Flourite.

I am not expert on modern substrates; my tank is full of water softener coarse sand. (To which I have added some laterite; yeah, I'm old.) But any clay is going to exchange chemicals with the tank water. This can be good or bad depending.


Quote:
I have *almost decided to get the Hydor 50w and hide it in the sump chamber of the Spec V. Do heaters really fail "ON" and kill fish?? I read that in Amazon reviews and was shocked to read even the more expensive heaters do this!! I run 2 25w preset Tetra heaters in my Topfin and haven't had that problem. The water stays between 77-79. Would it be safer to go with a preset or can they fail "ON" as well and cook the fish? Is getting an external temp control unit the only recourse? I would need to buy 2 for my 2 tanks so yikes, these little Betta setups are getting pricey!

Any recommendations or advice are welcome

I've had heaters fail, but never fail on. I had one simply burn out, and another that shattered; I discovered this when I reached into the tank. (A truly shocking experience.) Really, you should be fine with a decent quality modern in-tank heater.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-18-2019, 09:44 PM
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I Googled ideal tank parameters but unfortunately did not get consistant recommendations. 1 site said GH 3-4 KH 3-5. Another said GH 30-60 and KH 80-120
One is giving you KH/GH in degrees German hardness (3-4), other is giving it in ppm.

3dGH=50ppm, 4dGH=66.7ppm
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-19-2019, 02:19 AM
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