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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.
Dear Fields of Blue,

I think I'd continue to follow your instincts here. If your fish are gasping for air, they need oxygen! You were right to bump up the oxygenation via your filter's splashing.

NPTs are going to need more oxygen when they are first set up. Soil bacteria are invariably consuming lots of oxygen and producing lots of CO2. So right now the plants aren't hurting for CO2, but the fish could be hurting for oxygen.

Once the substrate settles down, the situation changes.

So for the first 2-3 months you may need to change water and maintain good oxygenation to keep the fish healthy.

Your substrate (Miracle Gro Potting Soil) is a little richer than what I'd advise for a beginner, BUT it will work very well for the long term once you get through the "break-in period". Its what I've got in my 45 gal, and I love the results. Just make sure that the tank is getting enough good lighting to match the substrate richness.

Since your plants are doing well, I'd venture that you'll be fine.

Good luck!
 

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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?
Dear FOB,

Enjoyed the video. Looks like a peaceful tank.

Whatever you are doing, I would keep doing it!

During the first 2-3 months, an organic soil will consume oxygen from the water-- more oxygen than the plants can pump out. Don't worry about losing CO2 by extra aeration or water mixing during this time. What many folks don't realize is that during the startup period, the usual rules don't apply. When oxygen is being consumed at a rate high enough to cause fish distress, there's no shortage of CO2 for plants.

Gradually as time goes by, oxygen consumption AND CO2 production will both slow. THEN you can try reducing aeration to conserve CO2 for the plants.

Remember: For every oxygen molecule that bacteria consume, they produce a CO2 molecule. Thus, if you have an oxygen deficit, you will also have plentiful CO2.
 
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