First planted tank, no idea what I'm doing. - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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First planted tank, no idea what I'm doing.

(this is kinda crossposted to the bowls, habitats and accessories board, but I thought I might get some more specific answers here)
I've recently bought a 5gal tank kit (the marineland crescent one) and I wanted to set it up for my betta with live plants. I've never kept live plants before, so I'm kinda lost even on how to get started. I'm planning on buying what I need bit by bit, obviously starting with the least perishable, but I'm not really sure on what plants and how many would be good for a 5 gal. I'm also thinking I'm either going to need to replace the light that came in the kit or supplement it, as its an LED but I don't have any idea what would be a good one.
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 12:41 AM
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ditto. hope you dont mind if i subscribe so i can see the responses :)

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 01:00 AM
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Hi,

I'm no professional either but I'll do my best to help you out. I've spent a considerable amount of time researching and reading up on planted tanks and am currently cultivating my first 20 gallon tank (ever) that seems to be successful with no problems so far. A few things that you need to know before getting into it is that it can get expensive quick (plants are very expensive), time consuming, a mess, and a hassle but if you love you're fish and the idea of plant life, its really worth it.

First of all I strongly recommended reading this guide three or four times and getting a really firm grasp and understanding of it (its Oldfishlady's sticky)- How to: Natural Planted tank
I also recommend going further and reading the following pages where a lot of people asked similar questions. Any questions you have or terms you don't understand you should google. There are a TON of forums out there about planted fish tanks. Simple google searches will yield you tons of results about the same question.

As for the plants, this is what I did-I google'd all the plants in OFL's guide and looked at every single one of them. I wanted to find plants I personally liked (I personally hate the look of all crpyt type plants) and went on to research the different care, planting and needs of each plant accordingly (I've discovered that plants are nearly as needy as betta's -.-). What kind of plants you want and how many is pretty much up to you, just so long as you're not overstocking them. I don't think having more than one floating plant is a very good idea because Betta's need to get to the surface very frequently and they can panic/get scared easy (at least mine does) especially in a smaller 5g tank. My betta has already gotten stuck on my frogbit and I only have 3 bunches of it in my 20g.

As for the order of materials to buy, I started from the ground up; the substrate, the cap (cap refers to what goes over the substrate, mine is pool filter sand), different types of decor (caves, rocks, etc.), the sponge filter, the heater, the tubing (gang valves, anti return valves), the air pump, the plants, the water, snails and finally fish. Since you're tank is only a 5 gallon, I'm unsure if it will have size problems or even need a filter. I'm sure someone with more expertise will chime in soon enough though.

Hope that helps a bit,

~Miria

20g NPT sorority- Clarissa/CT, Ellianya/CT, Tessa/CT, Derpy Fins/CT & 5 Olive nerites (all named Gary)

Swim In Peace - Asteroth, Teressa, Apple Bloom
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 03:17 AM
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I think anubius would be fine, I don't have my lights on all the time and they are doing fine. They are considered low light.

=^.^=
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
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Ive read through the sticky a few times, but I was kind of wanting to avoid a soil-based tank, part because I'm not 100% fond of the look, but mostly because it seems like its pretty finicky? It seems like a lot of people opt for a planted tank but just use gravel as a substrate and forgo the sand/soil combo. Are there any downsides to that?

Right now my shopping list looks like:
Better heater
Water testing kit
Substrate(??)
New lights(???)
Thermometer
Plants
Ghost shrimp

And then I already have my Betta, he's just stuck in a little 1.5 right now.

Are snails really important to a planted tank, and if I have shrimp and snails in with my betta will the tank be over stocked?

I am doing research outside of this, it's just I've kinda been stranded on my phone for the weekend, but I'll be back to googling the heck out of anything and everything tomorrow.

Last edited by Esahc; 04-01-2013 at 08:33 AM.
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esahc View Post
Ive read through the sticky a few times, but I was kind of wanting to avoid a soil-based tank, part because I'm not 100% fond of the look, but mostly because it seems like its pretty finicky? It seems like a lot of people opt for a planted tank but just use gravel as a substrate and forgo the sand/soil combo. Are there any downsides to that?

Right now my shopping list looks like:
Better heater
Water testing kit
Substrate(??)
New lights(???)
Thermometer
Plants
Ghost shrimp

And then I already have my Betta, he's just stuck in a little 1.5 right now.

Are snails really important to a planted tank, and if I have shrimp and snails in with my betta will the tank be over stocked?

I am doing research outside of this, it's just I've kinda been stranded on my phone for the weekend, but I'll be back to googling the heck out of anything and everything tomorrow.
1. A NPT refers to a soil based tank, so if you just want a "planted" tank, then not using soil is totally fine! You'll probably have to use root tabs if you get heavy root feeders likes amazon swords, but that's not really an issue. I would recommend Eco-Complete or FloraMax as a substrate. (:

2. You're gonna want lights that are rated at least 6500k for plant growth....unless you're using LEDs which I'm completely clueless about.

3. Snails are only really beneficial in a soil-based tank; they help to aerate the substrate and prevent toxic gas pockets caused by anaerobic bacteria in the soil.

4. A NPT can withstand a heavier bioload than a regular tank because of the amount of plants taking in the excess nutrients. A regular, non-planted 5 gal can usually safely support a betta and a snail so you *should* be okay with the shrimp, especially since they add very little to the bioload to begin with.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 08:54 AM Thread Starter
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A NPT sounds really interesting, but definitely a project to tackle when I don't have a million and one deadlines already breathing down my neck.

So far everyone is telling me not to bother with LEDs for a planted tank, as the cheap ones don't produce the right spectrum for plants, and the ones for plants are....really not cheap. I'll remember 6500k when I go shopping for lights though, thanks!
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 09:41 AM
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I too just started my planted tank back in january and have learned lots from the great folks here and Google. I have a planted tank with three containers of the black betta sand from petsmart. No soil and all I use is Seachem Flourish which is a liquid. My plants seem to be doing just fine with the better lighting (see below), with the exception of moneywort. Can't seem to get it to recover after it's initial meltdown from going into a new environment. But the anacharis, anubias, compact sword and water wysteria are doing just fine. I even upgraded the LED's on the lid of my tank. Just follow the link for current pics of my tank and all about the LED upgrade.

LED lighting upgrade

_______
~Daniel
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 11:46 AM Thread Starter
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That is pretty much exactly what I was looking for! I'd seen your thread earlier, but it was before you'd posted a more in depth DIY, and I didn't think it was what I needed. I'll have to add that into my "to research" list now though. It'll be something I can try squeezing in between projects. Also need to get a good look at the stock lighting the tank came from and plan out what I'm going to be working with
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 12:57 PM
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i'm new to this too, and still trying out different plants in my little 3 gallon, but some other resources i've been using are this thread i bookmarked a while back along similar lines, which has some recommendations for easy to care for plants scattered throughout:
I know nothing about plants :p

and also, this website: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/myPlants.php
^basically this is useful to me as someone who doesn't know anything about plants because you can look up any plant you have in mind there and it will tell you if they consider it to be low or high light, and how easy it is to grow. those are both somewhat arbitrary judgements, i guess, but it's nice to have a basic guide, and a lot of times people comment with their personal experiences growing things too and the particular problems they've had, which makes it easier to decide whether it's worth trying for me or likely to end up as a waste of money.

in my experience so far i think you probably can't go wrong with anubias and java moss, which have both proved to be unkillable so far for me even with my dinky led lights and limited winter natural light. seachem flourish is expensive and probably low on the priority list, but a couple drops really does seem to help things along too.
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