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Very first tank (planted, low tech)

Amazing pictures. I loved what I saw. Your fish tank is bigger than mine. I asked you about faux plants because I'm using a few in my fish tank just for decoration and a hiding place for my fish. What type of fish do you have? I have 3 Neon Tetra and 2 Betta fishes, and I plan to buy more soon, but we will see that.
Hi aciko, I'd really recommend live plants for your fish! Live plants do a great job at improving water quality and will give your fish a more natural environment that feels safer. You can also think about stocking - in the wild neon tetras live in huge shoals and are definitely happier in bigger groups. On the other side, male bettas are extremely territorial and do not do well together in the same tank. There's a lot of aggression that will definitely result in stress for the weaker fish, fin nipping and possibly an early death. Female bettas can also be territorial, but the males definitely shouldn't be kept together. I know you said before that you were new to ukaps, so if it's ok I'd love to send you some youtubers that make really good, planted tanks! There's loads of good advice on here too, people are extremely helpful 🙂

If you scroll back you can see the full saga of my tank. I have stocked mine with blackwater fish like tetras that enjoy dense planting and low light - similar to your fish. They're very beautiful, but very sensitive to water quality and can be quite aggressive without enough planting to hide in
 
The filter has been running since January 2023 with the same filter media.
I will revise this and add more sponge to fill the gap.
I think that would be a good idea. In short (not being a matten filter expert) you want to eliminate any form of path of least resistance and make sure water can ONLY flow through the filter media. I did some research on matten filters (something else for me to learn!) and all of the designs seem to be very tight fitting in terms of the filter media - whether they run across the length or width, or whether they are corner matten filters. And this does make sense to prevent flow around.

The filter cycles the tank 2x per hour.
In theory (in respect to filter filtration) 2x is not bad. You have a lot of surface area with your matten media (its not a million miles away from my 2 x Oase 250s capacity - and yours cost a lot less!) which is good. I think that if you can increase that turnover slightly (4 times per hour) it will help with faster producing/multiplying bacteria getting pushed through the filter quicker and therefore improve chances of water column bacteria reduction. It also ensures that you have some headroom in case the filter slows down etc. I did read that people have replaced the air-lift approach with a powerhead approach to create better surface agitation and also better control over the flow - which does seem to make sense to me.
In terms of the fish, the severely finless Cory's tail seems to be recovering! I'll keep an eye on the ich and see what's happening.
That is great news! And funnily enough, one of my Platty's has had a tail wound were it went white, and yesterday it just fell out leaving 20% of his tail missing! I am therefore also tracking tail re-growth rates too!
 
Tail buddies! I can run both filters simultaneously/ potentially swap them around to double the flow. I only know about matten filters thanks to @dw1305, us wattses cut costs wherever possible 😉 thanks so much for all the help
 
I can run both filters simultaneously/ potentially swap them around to double the flow.
If you can a) remove any flow-around (with bio media) and b) make sure that extra flow pushes water through that massive matten sponge then I think that would be a good step forward indeed.
😉 thanks so much for all the help
No problems at all!
 
ICH/BACTERIA UPDATE

Hi all,
Hope you're well 🙂

I've done 3 days of Esha exit and Esha 2000.

The good news is, my fin-less Cory is regrowing its tail!! I'm very proud of him in his smart new suit.

In less good news, one of the other corys is looking more ragged and I think skinny.
I've got the best photo I can:
PXL_20240713_192806784_exported_902_1720898933006.jpg

In comparison to the other corys, this one's head looks more sunken/lowered. It's comparable to the Cory pictured in this thread, although not as severe.
(Not my image!)
1000028582.jpg

I will keep observing. I don't know what to put this down to: fin rot, fin nipping, bullying, out competing for food? It's still swimming around quite happily: browsing, resting, coming up for air and feeding. However I do think it looks lean, and the tail fin is definitely more raggedy than a couple days ago.

In other news, two of the tetras still have visible white spots (3 on the body and fin on one, 1 on the fin of another). All of the other tetras are clear, as are the Corys and rasboras. So, a definite improvement!

I've blocked the mattenfilter properly with more seasoned filter media, so it should be functioning at full capacity. I've also doubled the filtration (4x water quantity per hour).

Yesterday I did a 50% water change, so we shall see how it goes. I can't redo the Esha 2000 treatment for quite a while, but I can extend/redo the esha exit.

What do you reckon: treat with Esha exit again, or keep water changes up and see what happens? I'd do the Esha treatment as an extension, so it's less intense than the original one.

Thank you all for the support and advice. God, this can be a stressful hobby!
 
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In other news, two of the tetras still have visible white spots (3 on the body and fin on one, 1 on the fin of another).
Hi,
I'm certainly no expert and stand to be corrected but I seem to remember from the past (and I'm a bit muddled) that Ich goes through a 2 week 3 stage life cycle and the meds only attack the free swimming larval stage usually meaning you repeat the dose after a week or so, but as I said I'm not certain and I'm sure it will say on the box. The moral of my story is though, you have to wait for the Cysts to drop off naturally after doing whatever they do and preventing new ones from attaching is the goal.
 
Hi Meg,
I've blocked the mattenfilter properly with more seasoned filter media, so it should be functioning at full capacity. I've also doubled the filtration (4x water quantity per hour).
This is great news. In actuality, I think the complete removal of the 'path of least resistance' (especially as you stated using already matured biomedia) is going to be more effective than the flow increase itself - but the flow will mean that more is getting pushed through that filter, helping the good stuff get access to the bad stuff. I would be interested in the results in the next 3-5 days regarding the ich.
What do you reckon: treat with Esha exit again, or keep water changes up and see what happens? I'd do the Esha treatment as an extension, so it's less intense than the original one.
I looked at the ESHA Exit ingredients, and they contain Malachite Green and Methylene Blue, both of which are meant to be effective (for UK-allowed medicines) for Ich. So if you are going to re-dose with ESHA, then EXIT looks promising in terms of 'best fit'. The medicine needs to work in conjunction with the improved filter position. I would just ensure that you increase aeration during treatment (if not already, if you have enough then dont do more!) and keep an eye on ammonia spikes with sporadic testing - just for belt and braces.
In less good news, one of the other corys is looking more ragged and I think skinny.
Out of the two, I am more worried about this one - and I can't quite put my finger on what it could ('could' because it's always hard to diagnose anything, really!) on what it is. I know this is hard, but if you can get a better picture or video then we can take a look to see if we can get a better handle on it. In the meantime, you are doing the right thing by removing the path of least resistance and, therefore, increasing the bio-media's capability to support the environment. My gut feeling is bacterial-related rather than fin-nipping, but that really is a complete hunch at best. Not sure how many Corys you have, but I would keep a very close eye on the others for any slight degradation to assess any patterns that form.
 
@megwattscreative - I know I am being a pain, but I am keen to understand whether there have been any changes/updates.
 
Hi @Bradders, no worries! Thanks for your support 🙂 I haven't posted many updates as I don't really have much big news to update on.

I realised I mistakenly underdosed the Esha 2000 (doh!) due to my really soft water. I also think any remnant tap conditioner in the water may have played a part too. So, I've done a 50% water change with rainwater from my neighbours butt and I'm on day 2 of redosing with the correct amounts of 2000 and exit.

Having done some more research, I'm 90% sure it's columnaris. The raggedy Cory especially has a white discolouration around the left eye, and one of the tetras is discoloured like the columnaris pics too. There is also a Cory that came from the LFS with a white mark on her back, however I assumed this was from injury in the past/natural colouration. Now I'm thinking it could have been saddleback - honestly I'm unsure.

The Cory in question - top left, white patch on her side/top. She appears to be breeding, so I'm honestly not sure if this is columnaris.
PXL_20240715_174123302.MP.jpg


The raggedy Cory: ragged fins, white patch around eye.
PXL_20240716_183625616~2.jpg

PXL_20240716_183622599~2.jpg


Everyone seems to be doing better spot wise/damage wise and behaviour wise - it's just the visual signs of infection, and I don't want it to get any worse.

I've successfully blocked the matten filter, but I've left a 2cm diameter gap using a little bit of airline tubing for the chili's to swim in an out. I've realised they are INTENT on getting back there, regardless of what I do. I had to rescue one that had wriggled between the glass and the sponge yesterday, either trying to get in or out. I don't want the chilis to damage themselves, so have given in and left a little gap. Observing them today, I think they are hanging out there because they like the filter intake dragging remnants of food towards them, without any competition from the "bigger" fish. Lazy sods 😂 if they want to hide in there I'm ok with that, but I am also going to make some coconut caves to hide in and redistribute some cuttings for more coverage in the rest of the tank.

In terms of the suspected columnaris, there are a few options:
A. It could have come in with the Corys
B. it could have been the filtration (have added an extra filter and rearranged the matten for improved filtration)
C. something could have come in with the moss from outside (I think this is unlikely, but I don't have space to quarantine, so it's possible)
D. It could have been a lack of surface agitation as a result of a clump moss blocking the filter (I've removed this clump and rearranged the hardscape so there's more agitation)
E. I reduced iron and fertiliser doses as I was a bit worried about overdoing it with the fish, however this has resulted in some plants melting/yellowing/dying off. This could definitely have effected water quality. I've rectified by doing some pruning/removing and I will dose ferts more frequently. I think I'm just a bit nervous of overdoing it now there's fish in the tank!
F. It could be the monumental quantity of snails & their deposits in the tank. Any ideas of how to thin them out just a little?

This is a long way of saying I don't really know how the columnaris started, but everyone seems to be slowly improving. It's bizarre how battered the raggedy Cory looks, when the others are zipping about and trying to breed constantly. They've got so much character!

Here's a little video of the feeding bonanza after I added the rainwater- it was about 4 hours of hypercarnivore heaven 🙂

I think I will likely extend this dosage until I'm certain the raggedy Cory has cleared up. Either way, I will let you know how it goes. Once this infection has cleared I will definitely add some more green neons and Corys to disperse any aggression/just make them a bit happier. Thanks for all the help 🙂
 
Hi @megwattscreative, I cannot affer any insights into specific disease diagnosis, the fish in your video look pretty healthy, but your filtration is most definitely not functioning properly.
I've successfully blocked the matten filter, but I've left a 2cm diameter gap using a little bit of airline tubing for the chili's to swim in an out.
I am going to sound like a total blahblahblahblah here for pointing this out again, but the first statement is not consistent with the second. If there is a 2cm diameter gap then the mattenfilter is most definitely not working as intended - 90%+ of the flow (maybe even 100%) will be going through the gap(s). You may as well remove the foam and just let the pump or airlifter circulate the water for all the good it is doing, and let the plants and substrate do the filtering.

Mattenfilters were/are designed on a basis of no byflow around the foam. When there is no flow through the foam, the large volume of foam could potentially be a refuge or breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria and other anaerobic organisms that may, or may not, cause health issues in fish. Probably not the cause of the issues you are facing but worth considering all the same.

It feels a bit futile offering you advice because your dad is more knowledgeable than myself about this stuff, but maybe ask him if he agrees with me or if I am full of it?

(BTW this is not meant to sound like criticism, just advice, hope the tone was appropriate.)
 
Hi Meg - No problems, sorry I was being a nag.
Having done some more research, I'm 90% sure it's columnaris. The raggedy Cory especially has a white discolouration around the left eye, and one of the tetras is discoloured like the columnaris pics too. There is also a Cory that came from the LFS with a white mark on her back, however I assumed this was from injury in the past/natural colouration. Now I'm thinking it could have been saddleback - honestly I'm unsure.
OK, so we seem to be pointing towards (I think) a bacterial disease.

I've successfully blocked the matten filter, but I've left a 2cm diameter gap using a little bit of airline tubing for the chili's to swim in an out.
In terms of filtration, any path of least resistance is really bad. That little gap will equate to a large deficiency in filtration. We need to make that very tight.
 
Thanks both, I will have a rethink and maybe just switch up the filter.
BTW - ANY change in fish health and behaviour (positively) is a good sign. That video looks great! They look very active and happy.

I'm not quite sure what 'switch up' means (I am from Essex, have pity 🙂), but you have tonnes of bio media there - it's great. Just don't let anything go around it.....
 
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