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Surface scum & is increased flow too strong for a Betta?

laurenb252

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Hi everyone,

I’m in the process of cycling a 30L (8 US gallons) tank that will eventually be a home for a Betta. This will also be a planted aquarium, and I’ll be dosing CO2 for the first time.

Upon going to test the water today, I noticed there was a fair bit of surface scum on the water, is this bad? I’ve brought the internal filter closer to the surface to create some more agitation but now I’m not sure if this flow will be too strong for a Betta or not. I’m also considering having floating plants to give the fish some cover, but the increased agitation will surely blow the plants around everywhere.

So, am I ok to have a planted, CO2 injected, Betta tank with decreased flow and a bit of surface scum, or will increased flow be better?
 

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MichaelJ

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Hi everyone,

I’m in the process of cycling a 30L (8 US gallons) tank that will eventually be a home for a Betta. This will also be a planted aquarium, and I’ll be dosing CO2 for the first time.

Upon going to test the water today, I noticed there was a fair bit of surface scum on the water, is this bad? I’ve brought the internal filter closer to the surface to create some more agitation but now I’m not sure if this flow will be too strong for a Betta or not. I’m also considering having floating plants to give the fish some cover, but the increased agitation will surely blow the plants around everywhere.

So, am I ok to have a planted, CO2 injected, Betta tank with decreased flow and a bit of surface scum, or will increased flow be better?

@laurenb252 Welcome to UKAPS :)

From the picture it looks like you do not have any plants in the tank. You should get the tank planted right away - the more plants the better!

As I assume this is a brand new tank, I suppose the surface scum will recede over time. Since there is nothing else in the tank it likely originate from the gravel / substrate - looks like your using an enriched substrate / aqua soil of sorts?

As for floating plants and flow. Of course, there is a limit to how strong you want the flow - you do not want the plants to tumble around - or the betta to be stressed out when introduced. I have pretty good surface agitation in my tanks and plenty of floating plants (Frogbit, pennyworth and duckweed) and the plants are fine being carried around a bit by the surface agitation. Ideally, if you can adjust the flow on your filter, you can always dial it down and back up as you get more plant growth to make sure you get the nutrients/CO2 distributed around the tank.

Cheers,
Michael
 

dino21

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Hi,
It might seem a little on the big size for your 30L tank but these little surface skimmers work well and cost just £12 inc post.
They have an adjustable outlet flow so you can set it to suit your tank and it also has an air venturi hose.
Used them for years, very quiet ( venturi off) and the little filter is very easy to change.
Aquarium Surface Skimmers for Sale - Allpondsolutions
 

MichaelJ

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Hi,
It might seem a little on the big size for your 30L tank but these little surface skimmers work well and cost just £12 inc post.
They have an adjustable outlet flow so you can set it to suit your tank and it also has an air venturi hose.
Used them for years, very quiet ( venturi off) and the little filter is very easy to change.
Aquarium Surface Skimmers for Sale - Allpondsolutions
+1 I used to have those in both my tanks. Very good actually. Needs frequent cleaning to avoid clogging up especially if you have floating plants such as duckweed, but you can tweak it for the better by replacing the filter media that comes with the skimmer with a medium coarse sponge cut out to match the size. Worked well for me.

Cheers,
Michael
 

laurenb252

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Hi all,
Welcome to UKAPS.

How are you cycling it?

cheers Darrel
Hi Darrel,

I’m cycling the tank using Dr Tims liquid ammonia, and following the instructions provided. Heading into a nitrite spike at the moment so it’s moving along nicely.

I’m following the dark start method (just turned the light on for a brief second to take the attached photo) and will plant the tank once the cycle has completed!
 

laurenb252

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@laurenb252 Welcome to UKAPS :)

From the picture it looks like you do not have any plants in the tank. You should get the tank planted right away - the more plants the better!

As I assume this is a brand new tank, I suppose the surface scum will recede over time. Since there is nothing else in the tank it likely originate from the gravel / substrate - looks like your using an enriched substrate / aqua soil of sorts?

As for floating plants and flow. Of course, there is a limit to how strong you want the flow - you do not want the plants to tumble around - or the betta to be stressed out when introduced. I have pretty good surface agitation in my tanks and plenty of floating plants (Frogbit, pennyworth and duckweed) and the plants are fine being carried around a bit by the surface agitation. Ideally, if you can adjust the flow on your filter, you can always dial it down and back up as you get more plant growth to make sure you get the nutrients/CO2 distributed around the tank.

Cheers,
Michael
Hi Michael,

Yep, no plants in there for now but I plan to plant densely once the cycle’s complete! The substrate is Fluval Stratum.

Unfortunately this filter has no option to adjust the flow, I can only move it closer and further away from the surface. I may have to try and tie something over the inlet to find a good amount of agitation that’s keeping the surface clean but is also suitable for the plants and fish. I did try using the Dennerle Nano XL filter which seems to have some kind of spray bar, but it was too noisy for me (the tank is kept in a bedroom) so I’m quite picky about how loud it is!
 

MichaelJ

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Yep, no plants in there for now but I plan to plant densely once the cycle’s complete!
Hi @laurenb252 I am not familiar with Dr. Tims liquid ammonia product, I take it it is some sort of "cycle" product... are you sure the product really recommend doing it without any plants? anyway, I guess so as you probably have used it before and/or read up on it.

I am curious how that works and what the benefit would be using it without plants? Darrel / @dw1305 any ideas?

Cheers,
Michael
 
Last edited:

Aqua360

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Hi Michael,

Yep, no plants in there for now but I plan to plant densely once the cycle’s complete! The substrate is Fluval Stratum.

Unfortunately this filter has no option to adjust the flow, I can only move it closer and further away from the surface. I may have to try and tie something over the inlet to find a good amount of agitation that’s keeping the surface clean but is also suitable for the plants and fish. I did try using the Dennerle Nano XL filter which seems to have some kind of spray bar, but it was too noisy for me (the tank is kept in a bedroom) so I’m quite picky about how loud it is!

I'm surprised you found the dennerle corner filter loud, it could be that it just needs to develop some slime on the impeller before you notice a difference.

I've found it to be the quietest filter I've ever owned, almost fully silent once it's settled down
 
Last edited:

laurenb252

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Hi @laurenb252 I am not familiar with Dr. Tims liquid ammonia product, I take it it is some sort of "cycle" product... are you sure the product really recommend doing it without any plants? anyway, I guess so as you probably have used it before and/or read up on it.

I am curious how that works and what the benefit would be using it without plants? Darrel / @dw1305 any ideas?

Cheers,
Michael
Hi Michael,

It’s a bottle of ammonium chloride. They don’t specifically mention cycling the tank without plants, but I’ve decided to try it this way after seeing this video here:



I’d be interested to see if anyone here has used this method and had any success with it!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I’m cycling the tank using Dr Tims liquid ammonia, and following the instructions provided. Heading into a nitrite spike at the moment so it’s moving along nicely....I’m following the dark start method
You can stop adding the ammonia, do a water change and plant the tank. A few members <"have used dark start"> (with ADA Amazonia etc) where the substrate leaches a lot of ammonia initially, but if you don't have an ammonia rich substrate there isn't any advantage to adding ammonia.
I am not familiar with Dr. Tims liquid ammonia product.
Dr Tim's liquid ammonia is just <"a solution of ammonium chloride (NH4Cl)"> designed to add the "3 ppm ammonia" used in "fishless cycling". The idea is that you use it in conjunction with his microbial supplement <"One and only">.
... I am curious how that works and what the benefit would be using it without plants? Darrel / @dw1305 any ideas?
If you don't have plants you need to establish nitrification in the filter and one way of doing this is to add ammonia and a bacterial supplement. The idea is that the filter will be primed to receive a large fish load in one hit. You use testing to determine when the filter is efficiently converting ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2-) to nitrate (NO3-), and at that point you add the fish. I'll call it <"the "mbuna" scenario">.

<"Ammonia based cycling"> doesn't <"offer any advantage with plants">, none of the bacteria that were thought to be essential for nitrification <"actually occur in aquarium filters">. You wouldn't know it from most aquarium literature and forums, but the <"traditional linear view of cycling definitely isn't right">.

<"Dr Hovanec"> talks about what we know now in:




cheers Darrel
 

MichaelJ

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If you don't have plants you need to establish nitrification in the filter and one way of doing this is to add ammonia and a bacterial supplement. The idea is that the filter will be primed to receive a large fish load in one hit. You use testing to determine when the filter is efficiently converting ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2-) to nitrate (NO3-), and at that point you add the fish. I'll call it <"the "mbuna" scenario">.
Yes, I get that for a plant-less tank to prime the filter for nitrification, but was just wondering what the idea would be if you plan to have a reasonably densely planted tank anyway? I still think if you plant dense from the get go you can skip this.
<"Ammonia based cycling"> doesn't <"offer any advantage with plants">, none of the bacteria that were thought to be essential for nitrification <"actually occur in aquarium filters">. You wouldn't know it from most aquarium literature and forums, but the <"traditional linear view of cycling definitely isn't right">.
I guess this answers my question :) ... perhaps adding the ammonia accelerates the process a bit?

Cheers,
Michael
 
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laurenb252

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Hi all,

You can stop adding the ammonia, do a water change and plant the tank. A few members <"have used dark start"> (with ADA Amazonia etc) where the substrate leaches a lot of ammonia initially, but if you don't have an ammonia rich substrate there isn't any advantage to adding ammonia.

Dr Tim's liquid ammonia is just <"a solution of ammonium chloride (NH4Cl)"> designed to add the "3 ppm ammonia" used in "fishless cycling". The idea is that you use it in conjunction with his microbial supplement <"One and only">.

If you don't have plants you need to establish nitrification in the filter and one way of doing this is to add ammonia and a bacterial supplement. The idea is that the filter will be primed to receive a large fish load in one hit. You use testing to determine when the filter is efficiently converting ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2-) to nitrate (NO3-), and at that point you add the fish. I'll call it <"the "mbuna" scenario">.

<"Ammonia based cycling"> doesn't <"offer any advantage with plants">, none of the bacteria that were thought to be essential for nitrification <"actually occur in aquarium filters">. You wouldn't know it from most aquarium literature and forums, but the <"traditional linear view of cycling definitely isn't right">.

<"Dr Hovanec"> talks about what we know now in:




cheers Darrel

Hi,

Thanks for the detailed reply! I didn't use the 'one and only' product as in the filter there is media that was previously used in an established tank. I assumed that this would kickstart the cycling process and ensure that the filter can effectively convert higher levels of ammonia and nitrite?

I'll take a look at the linked video and get some plants in the tank very soon.

Thanks :)
 

Konsa

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Hi
How well the bacteria is doing its job is very dependent on the oxygen levels in there.
Instead of adding stuff make sure the water is oxygenated well.Lift the filter so it breaks the water surface.This will get rid of the film and improve oxygen levels. Later when planted you can lower it down and plants will supply the oxygen. Plant mass and hardcape will hinder the flow further if it feels too strong now will be different once plants grow in , dependent on species chosen of coarse.
Regards Konstantin
 

jaypeecee

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I am curious how that works and what the benefit would be using it without plants? Darrel / @dw1305 any ideas?

Cheers,
Hi @MichaelJ

I favour 'cycling' without plants as it's easier to control the process. Less variables. If plants are also taking up ammonia at the same time as nitrifying bacteria, it's difficult, perhaps impossible to know how well the cycling process is progressing. I have always excluded plants when cycling as it can speed up the process and be ready to introduce livestock earlier as a result. Using Tetra SafeStart, I have cycled a tank in just six days. After that, the plants and a few fish can be added.

JPC
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
here is media that was previously used in an established tank.
That is always the best way to start a new tank.
I assumed that this would kickstart the cycling process and ensure that the filter can effectively convert higher levels of ammonia and nitrite?
It won't have done any good, but it may have done less harm than it would have done if you had started from scratch with no microbial flora. Once you stop adding ammonia hopefully the <"dormant Nitrospira, AOA and AOB"> will begin to grow in abundance and the bacteria that had been favoured by high ammonia loadings will become dormant.
Instead of adding stuff make sure the water is oxygenated well.Lift the filter so it breaks the water surface.This will get rid of the film and improve oxygen levels.
Yes, plenty of oxygen will be required until the plants are in active growth, once the plants are growing they are net oxygen producers and they will help maintain oxygen levels.
If plants are also taking up ammonia at the same time as nitrifying bacteria, it's difficult, perhaps impossible to know how well the cycling process is progressing.
They aren't really separate processes. Personally I don't care where ammonia removal is happening, the important bit is that it (and any nitrite (NO2-)) is removed. The advantage of plants is just that you can use their growth and leaf colour as a measure of how "fish safe" the tank is.
I have always excluded plants when cycling as it can speed up the process and be ready to introduce livestock earlier as a result. Using Tetra SafeStart, I have cycled a tank in just six days. After that, the plants and a few fish can be added.
Personally I'm always going to want the plants grown in before I add any fish, and then I'm going to add the fish fairly slowly. It might not be strictly, but it has a very low chance of failure (at least in terms of water quality issues).

Ideally I would like <"root growth like this"> before any fish were added.

fff-png.png


cheers Darrel
 
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hypnogogia

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Personally I'm always going to want the plants grown in before I add any fish, and then I'm going to add the fish fairly slowly. It might not be strictly, but it has a very low chance of failure in terms of water quality issues.
Exactly this. Slowly increase the bio loading on the tank.
 

jaypeecee

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dw1305

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Hi all,
@jaypeecee I think we we can agree to disagree.

I'd guess that people will do whatever they think is best. I'll be honest, if I'd <"read all the cycling advice"> and then some-one (who I don't know from Adam or Eve) started telling me that it is "all wrong" I would probably disregard them and carry on with the ammonia.

For whatever reason cycling is an <"incredibly divisive area"> and although "plant and wait" is a lot less controversial than it was <"when I started advising it">, I still receive a trickle of what can only be described as <"hate mail">.

cheers Darrel
 

MichaelJ

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Hi @MichaelJ

I favour 'cycling' without plants as it's easier to control the process. Less variables. If plants are also taking up ammonia at the same time as nitrifying bacteria, it's difficult, perhaps impossible to know how well the cycling process is progressing. I have always excluded plants when cycling as it can speed up the process and be ready to introduce livestock earlier as a result. Using Tetra SafeStart, I have cycled a tank in just six days. After that, the plants and a few fish can be added.
Yes, I have done that too... :) Now that I come to think about it I actually added SafeStart to my current tanks when I restarted the hobby a couple of years ago, but I also planted heavily right away.. (still a having a lot of the plants that I planted originally). Truth be told, I've never really consistently monitored my total ammonia (NH4+NH3) or NO2 levels during "cycling" - just waited a few weeks doing some regular water chances along the way and waiting for some growth and my filter getting "dirty" before slowly adding fish - yes, I've lost a few fish early on - which could theoretically be due to NH3 - but never anything catastrophic.

Cheers,
Michael
 
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