It depends on your level of planting. The best thing you can do is keep a careful eye on nitrite, nitrate and ammonia and do a change whenever things get too high, until you have figured out the kind of schedule your tank needs. :)
I'm not even sure how planted they'll be. I guess it depends on what plants will help me the most and which ones I have the most luck with!
Originally Posted by AyalaCookiejar
Obviously, you'll need a test kit to do that. Test every day for a week, and change the water any time you see ammonia or nitrites and any time you see nitrates over 20. Some people have done tests on five gallon tanks (unfiltered and unplanted) and found that water changes are necessary every 4-5 days. A fully established planted tank might only need one or two changes per month.. But it take a few months for a planted tank to be established, and this is probably a little different with a smaller (3 gallon) tank. Without a test kit, I think I would probably stick to two 50% changes a week in a 3 gallon planted tank, as long as your plants are fast growing and thriving. Dead/dying plants will cause ammonia spikes.
I also do believe that you'll still want to siphon a planted tank, just siphon about half of the gravel instead of all of it, maybe during one of your two changes per week.
When you get some daylight fluorescent bulbs (6500k, about 2 watts per gallon), if you don't have an NPT (dirt substrate) you will need a plant nutrient to add to the water like Seachem Flourish. If you have a lot of rooted plants, Seachem also makes root tabs. Stem and floating plants are the faster growing ones that will use up the ammonia, so those are the ones you will want.
I'm not a plant expert at all (I just actually ordered my first plants and I should get them tomorrow so I might be more help in a month or so, lol) but the plants I ordered were Anubias Barteri, Jungle Val, Java Fern, Java Moss, Water Sprite, and Hornwort. The last three are faster growing, and they are obviously supposed to be beginner plants since I am obviously a beginner :p Some people seem to have more luck with certain types of plants than others, though, for some reason. Also, plants seem to like lower pHs, but from what I know, they can be adjusted to different temps and pHs like the fish. It's pretty easy to look up care sheets for each plant to find the ideal conditions for them.
Some other plants that are often recommended for beginners include Swords and Crypts (I believe) and floaters like duckweed (although I hear these are hard to get out of a tank because it multiplies so fast and can make a big mess during water changes, so I decided to stay away from that one).
There's plenty of members here who have helped me out a lot on plants (OldFishLady is the plant expert, though, lol). I also purchased my plants from a member here. If you want, you can PM me and I can give you a link to the thread and/or his FB page as it has all the plants he has for sale and some good information on them as far as the parameters for each of the plants and the difficulty of care. I also created a document of the specifics on the first 6 plants I listed if you don't want to look them all up individually, lol.
Edit: You'll also want to find out how the plants you get propagate and the proper way to trim them. You might be doing a bit of trimming in a three gallon tank... and also look up ways to QT/disinfect the plants if you don't want a ton of little snails hitching a ride and multiplying like rabbits o.o
I do plan to get a test kit. I actually don't have one yet, and they're super expensive. I just try to keep up with water changes now, to make sure I keep everything down without having to actually test it.
I use a turkey baster to clean up the debris, so I usually just pick up what I can see.
I already knew about the Seachem, but thanks for reminding me! I had read somewhere that I would need it, but I actually forgot about it until now. I know I do want stem plants and floaters. The floaters would provide more shade for my bettas to rest and I know I want some plants that have leaves so the fish can rest on them. Tiny Tina doesn't really have anything that floats near the top of the tank to rest on yet, but Patriot has a betta log to rest in, and he sometimes rests on his heater. Tina's a little ball of energy and I almost never see her resting anywhere.
That would be great! I was actually looking at those plants that you listed anyway, and I do like them. I'm running out to the store in a minute to pick up a new thermometer, as I dropped mine in the sink. ahdksfhgk When I get back, I'll shoot you a PM. :)