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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I've come to the forums for help because I seem to be having some water quality and nitrogen cycle problems in my new 10 gallon El Natural tank. Let me bring you up to date first.

~I'm VERY new to the fish keeping world (Literally a month at most)
~My tank is also VERY new, but was cycled for 4 days to encourage bacterial growth.
~I discovered Diana Walstad's NPT style of aquarium after losing several plants in my betta's tank.
~My ten gallon is now set up with 1.3 inches of sifted Miracle Grow soil bottom substrate. Sifting it removed all the little Styrofoam bits as well as some major twigs.
~The soil is covered with approximately 1 inch of natural colored gravel.
~The tank has a total of 8 rooted plants including 2 melon leaves, 1 amazon sword, 1 albanian sword (Is that name right?) 1 Cryptocryne (I think that's spelled wrong), one Golden Ribbon and another large fluffy plant who's name escapes me.
~The tank also has 3 Malaysian Trumpet Snails and 4 fish total including 3 Harlequin Rasboras and my beloved Betta, George.
~The light source is simply a window on the southern side of my house, and the tank has a petco brand waterfall style filter and a really nice rena heater. Both the filter and heater are more than sufficient for my 10 gallons.

-Fast Forward to today-

I've taken nitrate/nitrite, PH/Alkalinity and ammonia tests daily since I've added my fish and constructed the tank. The water, at day two after starting the tank and filling it up, became a hazy yellow. I'm almost positive that this haze is not an algea growth, so what could it be? Checking my levels shows that the nitrites and nitrates are moderately high (Somewhere between safe and stress on my bottle) and the ammonia is low (Around .2 PPM).

I wasn't initially concerned with this because both were within safe ranges for my fish and I assumed the tank would need some time to acclimate. However, I noticed tonight that my rasboras have been gasping at the surface of the water and my betta looks very lethargic. I sprung into action by changing out at least 4 of the total 9 gallons of water (Approximate) and by putting in an air stone which would add more oxygen to the water chemistry. My Rasboras are happily schooling around the tank and no longer gasping for air, and my betta is flaring at his reflection in the tank walls.

I'm worried that this hazyness which I've observed overtake my water may be a part of the problem and I'm also worried that this may be an indicator of my plants either not photosynthesizing or, even worse, dieing off. The Cryptocryne is growing wonderfully and sending up bulbs towards the surface of the water. The melon leaf plants are getting larger and sending out more roots. The only plants that I don't currently see explosive growth from are my ferns and swords. I actually observed fine streams of bubbles coming from several of my plants' roots earlier during the sunny hours of the day.

So I guess my full segmented question is; Should I be concerned with this yellowish haze in my water, does it sound like my tank is sufficiently planted to support 4 fish and is there any better way to keep my tank's levels in check?

TYTYTYX1,000,000 for any help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the responses, I'm relieve to know that my betta is comfortable and probably in safe conditions. The miracle grow was just a half empty bag in my garage which I used because I didn't want to go out and buy more soil or dig up my yard. It's of the average "Potting Soil" variety.

Also, I believe I've found out why my rasboras were having trouble breathing the other night! I noticed that my waterfall filter's output was very close to the water surface, particularly less than 1/4 inch. This allowed the water to flow down into the tank without having to break surface tension, so the amount of air being pulled down with the water was nominal at best. I've reduced the water level about an inch so the filter output now splashes down and pushes plenty of air bubbles down with it. Needless to say, I'll be closely observing my fish every night until I'm positive that the filter will provide plenty of oxygen for my fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Oh dear, that won't do at all. I'll pay very close attention to my water levels then. I am confused about the oxygen though; don't my plants take in CO2 and put out the oxygen? And in such a case, wouldn't the explosion of growth be a good thing for fish?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wonderful, thank you for the advice. I think the miracle grow will work out just fine, after all it is just a soil with specially procured nutrients and organic fertility, right? It seems that the main message from everyone so far has been to observe my water's levels daily and keep my fish happy untill the substrate stabilizes, and THAT is what I shall do! I've already gotten a copy of Diana's book for future reference on its way. TY again everyone! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey everyone! It's been a while since my aquarium was planted and I was having troubles, so I thought it would be a good time to update everyone on how my fish are doing.

My substrate stabalized quickly and my levels of ammonia and nitrate dropped to absolute 0 within a week of posting. I've had some very minor algae problems which my malaysian trumpet snails and newly added Otocinclus catfish have more than taken care of. I've added three neon tetras with the catfish, and the increased fish load hasn't budged water levels at all.

I really couldn't be happier with the results, and I'll soon be moving up to a much larger tank (70 gallons) which I'll be making into another el natural. The low maintenance and fast plant growth have really made me fall in love with these tanks lol. Here's a video of the final results, enjoy and thanks again to everyone!

 
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