thinking about planting - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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thinking about planting

Hello,

I'm thinking about putting plants into my 2.5gal tank. I'm new to this have a few questions that I hope you can help me answer.

1. What are the advantages/disadvantages of a tank with dirt vs one with sand?

2. How do you keep it clean?

3. Should I get a snail to help aerate the substrate?

4. Is there anything else I should ask?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 09:10 AM
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1. Dirt will actually help your plants grow. It contains minerals and nutrients that plants don't find in sand. Sand is just sand, it's all grains and has no nutrients in it. However if you do use dirt, you'll want to use a sand cap over top. Dirt is really good at floating and clouding up your tank so if you have about an inch of sand over top of it, it will stay down and keep your tank cleaner. Then you plant the plants in the sand and they reach down to the dirt to keep them fertilized. You can actually use Miracle Grow potting soil as a base with regular sand on top.

If you just use sand you'll have to use root tabs and liquid fert (it's really not that hard to do) and you may not even need root tabs right away or anything. I successfully grew plants without root tabs and with API LeafZone for 6 months and they're still doing great! I only added root tabs for my Sword plants since they are such heavy root feeders that they really needed it. They were getting floppy but this is only a sand tank.

Disadvantages for dirt/sand is that at first it might be cloudy for a while, you do have to poke the dirt/sand to aerate it. Snails won't do all of the aeration for you so you'll just have to "burp" it every now and then.

2. same way you clean a regular tank. You can use a small siphon (there's 4 inch siphon on ThatPetPlace.com if you want one) and just instead of digging like you would in gravel, you just skim the surface of the sand to bring up debris. Sometimes I swirl it around gently to kick up debris and poop when I see it.

3. You can, but you'll still need to aerate it yourself as I mentioned before.

4. I don't know, I don't know what you know already haha

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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1. Does using dirt with sand compared to sand with fertilizers have the same affect on providing removing nitrates and nitrates?

2. I have a bare bottom tank right now, so I don't have any experience with cleaning substrates. How often do I have to do it? Can my fish be in there while I'm cleaning? You say to skim the surface of the sand but not dig. Is that so the dirt stays underneath?

3. Is the Finnex Fugeray a good choice for lighting? Is there a way to build something that covers it to hide the fixture?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightfox View Post
1. Does using dirt with sand compared to sand with fertilizers have the same affect on providing removing nitrates and nitrates?

2. I have a bare bottom tank right now, so I don't have any experience with cleaning substrates. How often do I have to do it? Can my fish be in there while I'm cleaning? You say to skim the surface of the sand but not dig. Is that so the dirt stays underneath?

3. Is the Finnex Fugeray a good choice for lighting? Is there a way to build something that covers it to hide the fixture?
1. Yes
2. I tend to do it just when it starts looking ucky. You'll know.
3. I don't have experience with that lighting system.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-02-2013, 05:59 AM
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The Fugeray is quite nice. Whether it works for you depends on your tank dimensions and plant selection.

I suppose you could disguise it, but it is really meant to be visible. Totally a question of personal choice.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-02-2013, 03:57 PM
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1. nothing removes nitrites and nitrates except for water changes. Dirt provides nutrients where sand does not but dirt floats so in order to keep it down, you use sand over top.

2. Tanks should have a water change once a week. If you dig into the sand when you use the gravel vacuum then you're going to suck it all up. It's not like gravel where it will go right back down after a few shakes. Sand is light, dirt is even lighter.

With the weekly water change I always clean into the gravel or in my sand tanks, skim over the top of the sand to get the poop and debris. You can't just do it "when it looks yucky" ideally you should be doing this every week. Tanks don't clean themselves, unfortunately :-/

And yes your fish can be in there when you clean as long as you're not doing a 100% lol

So you have bare bottom now, do you use a gravel vacuum now? Or do you use a different method?

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-02-2013, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilnaugrim View Post
1. nothing removes nitrites and nitrates except for water changes. Dirt provides nutrients where sand does not but dirt floats so in order to keep it down, you use sand over top.

2. Tanks should have a water change once a week. If you dig into the sand when you use the gravel vacuum then you're going to suck it all up. It's not like gravel where it will go right back down after a few shakes. Sand is light, dirt is even lighter.

With the weekly water change I always clean into the gravel or in my sand tanks, skim over the top of the sand to get the poop and debris. You can't just do it "when it looks yucky" ideally you should be doing this every week. Tanks don't clean themselves, unfortunately :-/

And yes your fish can be in there when you clean as long as you're not doing a 100% lol

So you have bare bottom now, do you use a gravel vacuum now? Or do you use a different method?
My water parameters are always perfect in my NPTs. I have no need to siphon the sand for anything other than cosmetic reasons. The livestock in my tank takes care of shredding the plant matter. That's the entire purpose of having a NPT.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2013, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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With my bare bottom tank, I would remove the fish and then bring the tank to the sink to dump it. I will use a new 5gal tank for my planted tank and use gravel or sand.

Lilyth88, how do you setup a tank so that your water parameters are perfect? The sticky thread in this forum suggests getting lots of plants but I don't know how much I need.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2013, 09:33 AM
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With my bare bottom tank, I would remove the fish and then bring the tank to the sink to dump it. I will use a new 5gal tank for my planted tank and use gravel or sand.

Lilyth88, how do you setup a tank so that your water parameters are perfect? The sticky thread in this forum suggests getting lots of plants but I don't know how much I need.

They are all NPTs, so I have soil underneath the sand cap. I also have a lot of fast-growing stem plants and other plants. The more plants the better. The shrimp, snails, and bettas work as fertilizer for the plants. In turn, the plants clean the water. Everything besides the betta also works to clean the tank and shred the dead plant matter. For the first two months, I did water changes quite frequently. With soil-based plants, it is possible to get ammonia spikes initially. While the betta can handle those until you change the water, the shrimp are a lot more sensitive. I tested the water every day and made changes when necessary. Now I test the water once a week and there's never anything amiss. It definitely doesn't happen overnight and it is a bit of work to get it established. I do have a sponge filter in them, but I don't rely on that to keep it clean. My walls are always pristine (from the snails.) Occasionally the shrimp will slack and there will be some debris for me to clean up from the sand, but that doesn't happen very often.
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