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Newby to planted tanks and I'm crashing!

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A couple of months ago I decided to change out my daughter's 10gal betta tank to a planted tank. I added soil from Father Fish to the bottom, then capped it with blasting sand. I planted several plants and added back the single betta. I just have a single fluorescent light, the tank is near a window, I have pothos growing from the top, and I have an over-the-back filter, but it doesn't have anything in it. I acquired this from my daughter, so I'm not even sure what kind of filter is supposed to go in it.

A week or two later, the tank developed a white film.  I was told on another forum to leave it alone as it cycles. Then it turned to green algae that felt like plastic. Now it is completely overrun by green and brown algae. 

Please help me get this tank back on track. What kind of filter should I get with this substrate? And should I take all the plants, rock decor, and driftwood out and start all over again? I am completely at a loss as to what I need to do to have a healthy planted tank.








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It appears you have excess nutrients in the water, likely caused by the substrate, but the filter also needs to have coarse sponge and/or filter floss in it so that it can catch particles out of the water column and clear up your tank. Without used media, your tank may also be cycling. This is not a good scenario if fish are in there. Hence It is critical to test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate daily so you know where you stand- as the first 2 are toxic to your fish. The third can be if it gets > 40. You’ll also need a dechlorinator that detoxifies ammonia and nitrite, such as Seachem Prime or Fritz Complete. If you detect any ammonia or nitrite whatsoever, do a large water change using that dechlorinator. The detoxifying effect lasts 1-2 days, but I always treat it as 1 day just to err on the safe side. (Water changes will also reduce the excess nutrients.)

As far as the white slime, that is harmless biofilm. If fish eat it, they benefit from the protein and fiber it has. It should go away in about a week, or you can take a new toothbrush to it, and siphon it out with a gravel vac (best to have the filter sponge or floss installed before you do so) or else it will just swirl around your tank. Do not remove rocks and wood. They will house beneficial bacteria that eats fish waste, making your tank safer.

The greenish brown slime on top is a bacteria and is normal when a tank has a plant light. Remove it with the toothbrush as well.

One last thought, make sure the flow from that filter is not too much for the betta. They need very very gentle flow or they get stressed and become ill. Make sure it’s not pushing your betta around and/or making him/her struggle. You can consider a sponge filter instead, and they are sold on aquarium co op website and at most aquarium merchants.


Edited by Chick-In-Of-TheSea
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You have way more nutrients than the plants that you have can use right now.  You need to do water changes and start daily testing as your tank cycles.  Personally I would stir the algae up use your syphon do a few back to back water changes then do daily water changes.  

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