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Test Kits have arrived


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Today I became a slightly more responsible fish keeper with the arrival of my test kits. I studiously read the instructions and then followed them to the letter to come up with the following results for my three partitioned 38L community tank (is this just a large barracks?):

pH: 7.4

Ammonia 0.25

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 0

GH - after 12 drops it still hadn't changed colour so 214.8+ (should I just keep adding drops until it does change?)

KH 125.3


Three partitioned community tank of 38L (actually 30L of water in there).

One passive carbon filter, one passive bio media filter, two large black sponges, + one small compartment of Matrix (too much?)

One pump set very low

Only two of the partitions currently have occupants (one male CT and one male VT).

All three partitions have Pennywort and a fake half hollow log for hiding in.

Also received my gravel vac today but these tests are pre-vacuuming.

I'm doing 25% water changes once a week.

I'm thinking of adding snails, more plants and maybe some companion fish (all suggestions appreciated).

Now aside from all the comments on Adelaide water (we know its bad), what should I be doing?

I've read a stable pH is more important than the actual reading so do I just continue to monitor this for a few weeks before doing anything? What about the GH? I also read anything under 500 is okay for fresh water fish -> yes/no?

I understand the Ammonia level is just okay and the nitrite level is what I'm after. The nitrate level will hopefully come up in time as the tank is still quite young really. Or do I have nitrite and nitrate around the wrong way....

Finally, I believe the KH is around where I want it to be. Or am I wrong on that count as well.

I wont be offended by being shown up as knowing nothing and having read the wrong articles...much ;)/>/>

Overall, the boys seem to be thriving. They are no longer lethargic, they eat well, they flare when they catch each others reflection, and the colours look good. When I learn how to use my wife's camera, I'll post what I've got. For a computer guy, I hate gadgets so this may be a slow process...

Edited by Brenton
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Did I scare people? Did I write too much...too many questions (he asks before realising it's another question)?


Just want to know if my readings are on par with others or if there is something I should be concerned about?

Thanks in advance


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Hey Brenton,

I'm probably the last person to give advice regarding water parameters, as I occasionally check PH and ammonia, but rarely check anything else unless something goes wrong. I'm part of the old school that says if it's working for you, don't change a thing :) Sounds like you are doing everything right. I'll leave the water chemistry to someone else who is more knowledgeable. You are, however, right about a stable PH being more important. Great filtration - always remember: there is no such thing as having too much! :D

A couple of things that might help with the setup - please consider creating a visual barrier between your bettas, either by planting heavily along the divided barriers, or cutting a piece of plastic the size of the divider wall and sliding it down so it is sitting against it. I have used plastic file dividers in the past, or cut up the stuff real estate signs are made out of. These cards can be removed once a day for the boys to flare at one another and exercise. You will find your bettas will be more settled if they aren't feeling they constantly have to defend their territory. Plants are great to help keep water chemistry stable too. Happy that you have got some pennywort in there bet the bettas love it. Do you have a light over the tank?

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Thanks for replying Jarrod

Good news on the filtration side. I'll keep a track on the pH so I'll know if it's stable over the next week or so.

The barrier betwen tanks is solid black but it seems they may be able to see each others reflection if they both go the front corner at the same time. May have to plant something there to stop them. The boys love the pennywort but I'd like to add maybe some floating colour just for aesthetics. Any suggestions? I was reading a post where you mentioned a floating red Lotus or something?

Yes, I have a light over the tank - an LED setup which came with the tank. It is very bright but we only have it on for a couple of hours of an evening. I read they prefer a darker/murkier environment so we leave it off as much as we can.

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Just remember that your plants require light. Pennywort is a medium light plant and will need more than a couple of hours in the evening. Perhaps have it come on around lunchtime. The boys can always shelter from the light in their logs or in among the plants. Most floating plants are green. Let me have a think and get back to you on that...

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Cool - the tank is situated near the front lounge window so some natural light is obtained during the day. Nobody home at lunchtime during the week, but we'll switch it on a little earlier and try to aim for around 4 or 5 hours a night.

Look forward to your colour additon suggestions

Edit: On first reply I didn't even think of putting a timer on for the light :byebye:

Edited by Brenton
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Did I scare people?

Hahaha! Yes. Maybe a little bit. But now that we've established that you are amusing and not completely stupid you'll probably find people engaging a bit more.

That's probably already started to happen. I'm reading forum posts in reverse order as it appears on my phone. So I'm probably screwing up the chronology. Did your question get answered?

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Hey Bettarazzi, mostly the questions have been answered.

But...I tested the water straight from the tap today and the readings are pretty much the same as my tanks - not sure if that's a good thing for us humans or my test kit is not quite right...

I've rinsed the test tubes thoroughly with the pura tap and will allow them to dry overnight before testing the quality from the "so called" filtered water. If that's no different then I'll have to bottle some up and take to a professional water testing place. There seems to be a number of places that do a test for free.

The water conditioners - they are supposed to be to remove chloramine aren't they as, chlorine will normally evaporate from water over a 24 hour period, and I always allow my water to age for a number of days. I'm about to go research what the actual test for that is as I'm guessing it's not part of the API Master test kit.

I appreciate the tests for Ammonia and Nitrites are important and something to be kept on top of, but my pH seems to be stable (touch wood) and it seems I may be filtering out my Nitrates or they are still at an undetectable level, so the chloramine may be the one real thing I need to watch around here.

Oh, and I'm sorry if I scared anyone :)

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Hi Brenton

How long have you tanks been set up?I am going to assume(hate that word)they are recent as it is almost impossible to have 0 nitrates in an established tank.You might find that the ammonia levels will increase over the next week at which point you will start to get a nitrite reading this occurs as the bacteria start to develop in your filter then the ammonia will drop back to 0 and the nitrite over the next 3-4 weeks will increase through the colour range on the chart after 4-6 weeks your filters should be biologically active and the nitrite reading will be 0 as well then the nitrates start to accumulate you manage No3 with regular water changes and gravel vacuuming removing organic wastes wich is the initial source of the ammonia.I said almost impossible because I don't think you can easily get denitrification in fresh water tanks like you can in marine and I am not sure on live plants ability to use the No3 I kill plants.

NEVER WASH YOUR FILTERS UNDER TAP WATER use water from the aquarium the chlorine will kill most of your beneficial bacteria and you end up in more strife than Ned Kelly with a big ammonia spike.

Your tank/filters have to go through this nitrogen cycle when you first set them up be patient and don't add anymore fish until it has fully cycled the initial stock seem to tolerate the gradual build up of the NH3 and NO2 but put some in a few weeks into it with a high reading of NH3,NO2 it smahes them.


I found this on google its not my doing.

GH of 500 is good for a lost of cichlds you have to remember that fresh water fish occur in everything from 0-6/700 ppm gh find out what your fish prefer and aim for that they mite do well in the different conditions but the thrive in the right ones.

I recall reading some where that if you get a glass of tap water at room temp and if it has bubbles sticking to the inside of the glass that's chloramine they dont use it in the water here in WA (so i have been told).

oh well thats my bit hope it helps.


PS dont hold me to that chloramine check my memory is fading with age.I should have googled it first.

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Hey Kev

Thanks for the response.

Yes, the tanks are 'young' - about 3-4 weeks. With the chart and your explanation, does this mean I should hold off on doing anymore water changes and let the levels build some?

I've not moved the filters or sponges...or anything else in the sump area.

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There is nothing wrong with doing water changes some times the cycle take a bit longer depending on stocking levels once it starts your away it just takes a bit longer for the ammonia to build up when you only have a few fish.

Some products seem to inhibit the cycle namely the ones that state that they remove/detoxify ammonia then you always seem to have a false positive ammonia reading I don't know how it works I am not a scientist it just gets really confusing when the test is dark green and you never get a nitrite or nitrate reading but the fish seem ok .It tests ammonium on the same chart and this is non toxic to the fish so they must change nh3 to nh4. Also the higher your ph the more toxic the ammonia is so there is advantages in a lower ph as the water becomes acidic below 7 the ammonia becomes ammonium if you go to low though then the filter bacteria die of as well.this is the dark side you might venture into if you keep wild type bettas,licorice gouramis, West African and South American cichlids.

As i stated I am not a scientist I am pretty sure I have the basics right there though some one please correct me if I am wrong.


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We moved the tank a few days ago to the opposite side of the room on the better half's whim. Keeping in mind J's comment on plants requiring light, we have made sure the lights are on for at least 6 hours as they are away from the window now (Pennywort seems to be enjoying it). With the shutters down for most of the daylight hours while we're at work, they are either in the dark or under light now.

Coupled with this being a barracks setup for Betta and therefore a low flow rate, it seems I'm cultivating an algal bloom in my sump - or is this supposed to happen?

Do I get rid of the scum on top of the water in the sump, leave it, put a cover over the sump?

Any and all suggestions appreciated.

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Is that scum green? Or is it a creamy pale scum? It might be a build-up of protein. Picture might help. Definitely put a cover on your sump. It will help control heat loss and evaporation. I find running an air stone in the sump helps prevent scum. Just a little more surface movement seems to stop it.

If it's an algae problem then there's too much nutrient or light. You could start by reducing the light and see if that helps.

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Sorted my response, went to double check a link and it wiped my entire post - not happy.


For the second time (only much abbreviated from the first)

Photos: Gunk floating over black sponge but making it look green http://i718.photobucket.com/albums/ww188/btomlinson/Betta%20Barracks%20Lounge%20Room/DSCF1204-33.jpg

Clouds of it gathering in the sump: http://i718.photobucket.com/albums/ww188/btomlinson/Betta%20Barracks%20Lounge%20Room/DSCF1203-33.jpg

If the photos are no good, it's because I'm still figuring out how to use a camera. I can try again if need be.

Trying to figure out how to put a dark cover over the sump and not affect the glass lid sitting on top.


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If the glass cover is covering the lot just mask off the front section and spray paint the back bit over the sump.

Air stone is definitely the way to break up the build up of scum but then you end up with the mist from the bubbles which in itself can be a problem in a small sump.

You can occasionally get a piece of absorbent paper towel cut into a strip that fits in the sump and gently lay it on top of the water then pull it out straight away and it will soak up the scum.Just use a cheapy that's not printed perfumed or impregnated with anything. .

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