Can someone please help me figure out why my tank always looks dirty? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Can someone please help me figure out why my tank always looks dirty?

So, I've had a 10 gallon tank now for ~8 months, it was stocked with just a single male betta and planted fairly well (6-8 plant species). I was using a Tetra Whisper 10i in tank filter but hated the space it took up and I constantly had what looked like dust and dirt that would settle on the leaves in the tank, despite frequent water changes.

I've since replaced the in tank filter for a sponge filter, but am getting much of the same results (settling dust/waste/dirt) on the plant leaves. I have a white sand substrate that gathers a lot of dirt too.

I change 2 gallons of water every 2-3 days, and try and siphon as much of this dirt as I can, once a week I'll take a paint brush and lightly disturb the substrate and kick up all the gunk at the bottom and then siphon as much of that as I can.

For feeding, with it just being a single betta, I just give him a tiny amount of pellets twice a day and he eats all of what is given to him.

How can I keep this dirt from settling? I feel like my maintenance is plenty good enough to keep the tank clean. Since the inhabitant(s) of the tank prefer calm water, how can I ensure there is some kind of current that might keep things from settling like that but not enough to stress out the fish? My current sponge filter tube fires straight up, which keeps everything pretty stagnant throughout the tank.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 03:30 PM
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Sounds like you have brown diatoms unless you have a dirted tank? There should not be that much debris in the tank with a single fish. If you have a dirted substrate, then your cap was not deep enough, but it sounds like diatoms. Do you have a picture?

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 03:35 PM
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I think you may have answered your own question, you stated that the sponge filter keeps everything stagnent, so you have two options as I see it, more vaccuming or get a Aqua clear 20-50 or similar HOB
A better filter should help, but that's up to you.
I have a 5 gallon that has a AC 20 on it that used to house a Betta and he didn't mind the flow too much...
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 03:38 PM
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Any snails in the tank? Shrimp? Bettas don't pick at tank surfaces, seems like that is something your tank needs. A big Amano shrimp was fine with my betta in the 5 gallon tank and there were probably snails as well as I like snails. I'd put a trio of a smaller Corydoras species in with a single betta if the betta didn't harass them but you never know with bettas.


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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Red Cloud View Post
Sounds like you have brown diatoms unless you have a dirted tank? There should not be that much debris in the tank with a single fish. If you have a dirted substrate, then your cap was not deep enough, but it sounds like diatoms. Do you have a picture?

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No, no dirted tank. And I had brown diatoms shortly after I set up the tank, this stuff though looks just like dust balls, and it brushes off easily with just a paint brush where it will fall to the sand.

This is not a photo from my tank, but looks the same. I will get some photos up shortly of mine.


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Any snails in the tank? Shrimp? Bettas don't pick at tank surfaces, seems like that is something your tank needs. A big Amano shrimp was fine with my betta in the 5 gallon tank and there were probably snails as well as I like snails. I'd put a trio of a smaller Corydoras species in with a single betta if the betta didn't harass them but you never know with bettas.
Well, there's a bunch of snails that hitched in on the plants, and I have an assassin snail.

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I think you may have answered your own question, you stated that the sponge filter keeps everything stagnent, so you have two options as I see it, more vaccuming or get a Aqua clear 20-50 or similar HOB
A better filter should help, but that's up to you.
I have a 5 gallon that has a AC 20 on it that used to house a Betta and he didn't mind the flow too much...
After a bunch of reading, I was under the impression that moving to a sponge filter was a better option for filtration.
post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 04:34 PM
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The problem with sponge filters is that as soon as you pull it from the water, it will dump all the debris back in the tank. They are great for biological filtration but not so much for mechanical. But it still looks like diatoms. What kind of lights do you have? Are your plants growing?

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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The problem with sponge filters is that as soon as you pull it from the water, it will dump all the debris back in the tank. They are great for biological filtration but not so much for mechanical. But it still looks like diatoms. What kind of lights do you have? Are your plants growing?

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I have 2 (13 watt) 6500k CFL bulbs, they run anywhere from 6-10 hours a day. It has been closer to 6 lately because of some algae issues.

My plants aren't growing nearly as much as they were the first couple months I had planted them. I use Seachem Flourish and Flourish Excel, but have been trying to read up more on correct fertilizing but I can't wrap my head around it. The Excel will have to stay as I don't want to do any kind of c02. But I really need to do something to get my plants going again.
post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 12:59 AM
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You need more flow. Deitrus and other organic matter is building up on your plants leaves, and without flow are allowed to sit there and break down. Algae and bacteria take advantage of this break down process.

If in doubt, add more plants!

My not-enough-plants-but-not-enough-space-to-put-anymore-so-will-start-going-up-box-of-water.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 02:04 AM
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What jeepguy said
You need more flow !
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 02:19 AM Thread Starter
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You need more flow. Deitrus and other organic matter is building up on your plants leaves, and without flow are allowed to sit there and break down. Algae and bacteria take advantage of this break down process.
Is this even possible using this sponge filter and air pump?
http://www.amazon.com/Jardin-Aquarium-Biochemical-Sponge-Filter/dp/B0051XIN78
http://www.amazon.com/Tetra-77851-Whisper-Pump-10-Gallon/dp/B0009YJ4N6/ref=zg_bs_2975471011_1
Or am I better off just getting the AquaClear 20?
http://www.amazon.com/AquaClear-20-Power-Filter-Includes/dp/B000260FVG
post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 02:37 AM
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I'm not a big fan of hobs for circulation. It may work in your case. Imo a powerhead is the best option. I have a marineland powerhead used as a wavemaker not cheap, or go on eBay for the knock offs for under $10.
You have to walk a tight rope however. Bettas are not strong swimmers and can become exhausted if they constantly have to fight the current due to their large fins. Their fins are also capable of being caught in powerheads so any powerhead used definately needs a sponge.
Now that I think of it a nerite snail or two may take care of the problem for you as well.

If in doubt, add more plants!

My not-enough-plants-but-not-enough-space-to-put-anymore-so-will-start-going-up-box-of-water.

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not a big fan of hobs for circulation. It may work in your case. Imo a powerhead is the best option. I have a marineland powerhead used as a wavemaker not cheap, or go on eBay for the knock offs for under $10.
You have to walk a tight rope however. Bettas are not strong swimmers and can become exhausted if they constantly have to fight the current due to their large fins. Their fins are also capable of being caught in powerheads so any powerhead used definately needs a sponge.
Now that I think of it a nerite snail or two may take care of the problem for you as well.
Do you have a link to a powerhead you would suggest?

I have an assassin snail in the tank now, I assume that would be a problem adding any other snails?
post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 02:54 AM
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No, no dirted tank. And I had brown diatoms shortly after I set up the tank, this stuff though looks just like dust balls, and it brushes off easily with just a paint brush where it will fall to the sand.

This is not a photo from my tank, but looks the same. I will get some photos up shortly of mine.


Bump:

Well, there's a bunch of snails that hitched in on the plants, and I have an assassin snail.

Bump:

After a bunch of reading, I was under the impression that moving to a sponge filter was a better option for filtration.

this is my photo. It was when i let my eheim pro 3 canister go without cleaning for over 2 months. My tank has good flow but simply was really dirty with a full filter.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 04:03 AM
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Do you have a link to a powerhead you would suggest?

I have an assassin snail in the tank now, I assume that would be a problem adding any other snails?
One assassin, no. Multiple, could be. They'll gang up on larger snails, but one can't take down a bigger one.

I'd go with the AC20, personally. Bettas won't be happy with a large amount water movement from a powerhead.


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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 04:17 AM
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For a ten gallon tank a hob filter will be fine.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000SP65N8/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1422593916&sr=8-1&dpPl=1&dpID=41IKMP8CCEL&ref=plSrch&pi=AC_SY200_QL40#
This is what I use in mine with the addition of an internal filter with wave maker attached. I just replaced the carbon with Acurel media and placed a prefilter on the stem of the hob.You could do the powerhead and sponge combo as suggested and it would work great but you will need a micro powerhead, and it will cost more because you need one with adjustable flow rate for the betta.
For ferts, you don't need anything too fancy just add the iron and potassium from Seachem and you should be fine. Don't expect explosive growth without co2 so lights and ferts just need to be in moderation. It has a lot to do with substrate type too. Organic outperforms mineral type

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