It helps to feed bettas a varied diet, too. I alternate between pellets (2 crushed), bloodworms, and brine shrimp, to mix it up. I try not to do the same food two days in a row.
ADA aquasoil leaches ammonia at first. When I first put in the substrate, I had to do daily water changes, then weekly, until a month had passed. I never detect ammonia or nitrites anymore, though, I think because when I do put in aquasoil (not often), it's usually just a handful or two.
I did read that you're not supposed to upset the ADA aquasoil or it can cloud. I try not to but sometimes I can't help but suck up some of the soil pellets. It's worse if I'm not paying attention and suck up a section (that I then have to replace). It'll sometimes leak a type of thick cloud (keeps together mostly, rather than dispersing) that will roll over some of the substrate. I vacuum that out to get it to stop, and then if there's a noticeable dent in the substrate, I add more to fill the hole.
Sometimes I'll do it intentionally (after taking the fish out first) to replace some of the deeper substrate that's more like broken-down mud with fresher aquasoil.
I have no idea what your process is when you gravel vac, but when I do it in my dirted/sand capped tank, I wave my vac around to stir up debris, then suck that up, barely allowing the vac to touch the sand.
I definitely need to start doing this!
Why did I never think of this!?
I also keep the hose partially kinked so I can slow the flow & stop it at a moments notice, in case I start sucking up anything I don't want to!
That's perfect! Usually I'd just pull the vacuum out of the water to get it to stop, and the flow of water going back into the aquarium would stir up the substrate. Thank you!
I'll probably add a new thread in the fish part of the forums with the following, soon:
Stress: The Story
At the time my 5 gallon was occupied by a beautiful white betta (W). Because the process was so slow, I didn't realize he had been suffering fin rot for quite a while. I performed the necessary steps (such as water changes and aquarium salt baths) and stopped the fin rot.
The chocolate betta (C) (the one I'm currently concerned about) seemed happy enough in the other nano tank (2.5g--Not great, I know; he was an impulse buy and I already had that tank set up), scaring the dwarf shrimp into hiding and exploring every part of his domain--until she (F) came.
I had ordered a third betta (F), a female, and had set up a third nano tank (3.7g). However, the tank was still cycling (I had made a mistake that made it take weeks longer than usual), so when she arrived, I had to put her in a breeder box in the nano tank that held C (I didn't want to stress W in the 5g since he seemed to be going through something health-wise).
I had to move her from the nano to the 5g because C (at first very aggressive to have someone invade his small tank space) started spending days dedicating bubble nests to this female and I didn't know if he was ever going to stop. She even made a bubble nest too, inside her box. It was sweet but I'm in no position to breed bettas, and I was concerned this was going to stress them both out.
I moved her breeder box to the 5 gallon and W, the white male betta, never got over the aggression phase, which likely contributed to his health decreasing.
Finally when the tank cycled, I moved the female, F, in as soon as I could.
However, W in the 5 gallon was getting weaker. , but I couldn't understand why his health was failing. The night he died (after I risked a salt dip out of desperation), I noticed super tiny short little threads coming off him, far too small to be identified as anchor worms. Since they were white and he was white, I hadn't seen them until it was too late. Someone said it was likely mucous so I didn't concern myself. They said he had likely died from a secondary bacterial infection.
A few days later, I moved C, the male, from the nano (2.5 gallon) to 5 gallon, because it was a great size upgrade for him. (I'd prefer if all my bettas could have 5 gallons at least). His body is rather dark so it didn't take long for me to identify the same tiny white things (not round like ick) on him. Too small to see if they had forked tails with a magnifying glass, and they weren't leaving pink/red wounds, but they had attached everywhere, including the tail, around the eyes, over scales, etc.
Then I realized the female had it too--and that they had gotten it from being in contact with the 5 gallon when W was in there. I started treating them for external parasites for weeks until the buggers disappeared.
C got fin rot, and I was afraid he was going to go down the same path as W, so I've tried to be on top of everything as best I can with water changes and medication. The fin rot stopped, the external parasites seem to be gone.
5 gallon Recent Changes Log:
Betta involved is the chocolate betta (C) I am currently trying to de-stress. The female betta appears to be fine, except for a cataract. I treated her for cloudy eye for weeks and gave the tank regular water changes, but it never went away.
I've learned a lot of lessons in a short time.
05/01/19 - 06/14/19 - Treated tank with Hikari CyroPro once-a-week for external parasites. I didn't see them the last two weeks but wanted to be sure they were gone.
05/25/19 - 05/28/19 - Daily aquarium salt bath (to treat fin rot).
06/01/19 - 06/09/19 - Treated betta with Kanaplex every other day to prevent possible secondary infections like the former occupant developed.
06/01/19 - 06/14/19 - Treated betta with Paraguard every other day to help fight his external parasites.
06/05/19 - Added some limestone (and cuttlebone a few days before) to raise the KH (my tap is 0 KH) and make the pH more stable.
Added a single dose of Microbe-Lift Artemiss (was going to replace the Paraguard with this) but ceased, on account of company refusing to list the ingredients)
06/14/19 - Algae all the while was steadily getting worse over the last few weeks until it was out of control. Resorted to the One-Two Punch (removed livestock at the time, and returned them an hour afterward. No deaths reported).
06/21/19 - The tank was perpendicular to a window, so I moved all aquariums parallel to the window, on industrial shelving, with a tarp covering the back and sides of the shelf to protect the tanks from sunlight.
Current Status (06/26/19):
The tank looks good. The parameters are good. It's no longer at risk of getting hit by sunlight.
The brown and green algae is at a minimum finally (though I've noticed some brown algae growing in the gravel path through the center of the tank, between the rocks up against the glass. There's also some green algae I couldn't completely wipe off the anubias nana petite--not sure if it's dying, stable, or growing)
The pH doesn't fluctuate anymore with the KH up.
The plants seem to be happy. I was even able to add hydrocotyle tripartita from one of the other nano tanks. Normally it'd just collect hair algae and die, but it seems to adjusting fine.
Both betta's external parasites seem to have passed, his fin rot stopped, and despite everything seeming perfect now, his fins are still
clamped. I'm hoping it doesn't have to do anything with old age. I got him from a pet store so I know they're already probably 4 months old when purchased, but they should live for several more years.
I considered adding Stress Coat more regularly to the tank but that would only treat a symptom and not the cause.
The other two nano tanks are running so well (similar setups, but no airstone), with no algae issues (though I'm sure there is algae, no tank in general is without it). The airstone was running a little aggressively so I've turned it down as light as it can go, so that there are still some bubbles agitating the surface. I'll see if that changes anything.
Honestly, if my nitrates are below 10 in a planted tank, I'm worried about my plants -- this is another situation where I am a complete newb though, so take that one with a grain of salt!
I try to keep mine around 10, for the plants to feed off of. I've found that if it's higher than that in my tank, it's being caused by dying plant matter, so I'm usually on top of that by removing any dead bits.
I always make sure to dose for the right size container. The measurements I've documented (so I don't have to calculate every time) show how much to dose for 1g (pitcher), 2g (bucket), 2.5g (nano), 3g (bigger bucket), 3.7g (nano), 5g (nano). I'm already dosing the appropriate amount of Stress Coat for my 3 gallon bucket I use for water changes, but I've been dosing twice the amount of Excel for the 5g daily. It sounds risky skipping Excel for a month but I'll give it a try.
On an off note, I keep forgetting to buy root tabs for the plants.
- Reduce water changes to 10-20% weekly or twice a month.
- Stop dosing Excel for a month.
- Stir up contents of tank with vacuum, don't touch substrate.