I am hoping someone can help me with my new 5 gallon planted tank. This is the first time I have kept live plants so I am very much a newbie. Here's the specs on my tank:
5 gal AGA
Lighting: 2x screw-in CF, 10 watts each, 6500K, for 8 hours a day
Substrate: 1" of Flourite, topped with 1" Tahitian Moon Sand
Filtration: Azoo Palm filter, with seeded bio-rings from my established tank
Heater: 25 watt Hydor
Water: RO water from LFS, remineralized with Replenish
Additives: 2 drops Excel daily
Fish: 1 male betta
Kleiner Prinz Sword
Dwarf Aquarium Lily
The tank was set up on 10/5/12. When I tested the water 5 days later I almost passed out. It was:
pH - 8.0
Ammonia - 4.00 (not sure how my fish isn't dead)
Nitrite - 0.25
Nitrate - 80 ppm +
I have been doing huge water changes every day since then. The ammonia creeps up again every day, and the nitrates don't seem to go down at all. Last night I tested my nitrates before doing the biggest WC possible, they were around 80 ppm (probably higher. I have a really hard time distinguishing the colors on that one). After the water change they were still between 40 and 80. I don't even know how that's possible. I drained the tank down to the substrate.
At this point I am really frustrated. My betta's fins are getting really bad from the poor water quality. Any thoughts on what is causing this? Someone on another forum said it could be stuff leaching from the Flourite. I am more than willing to take it all out at this point and start over with different substrate if that's what it is.
I have had some "melting" on the plants since day 1, but I don't know if it's bad enough to be causing such huge water quality issues. Please help!