Starting over, would like suggestions
Hello everyone. It's been a while since I posted because I've had a heck of a time logging in since the security change.
I currently have a 10 gallon divided planted tank that I'm going to break down into two 5 gallon tanks. Trying to create a divide what would adequately keep my two boys from seeing each other is proving to be too difficult and they're biting their tails in stress so I am just going to give each of them their own 5 gallon tank since petco is having their dollar per gallon sale right now. I have one of them in the 1 gallon hospital tank right now to keep them from being further stressed.
I would like help with setting up the new tanks. I have been having a terrible time trying to have a successful planted tank. I have NEVER been able to get any of my plants to grow since I started keeping bettas back in 2015. The best I'm able to do is that they don't do anything (don't grow, don't die though they don't look healthy per se). I would like to give planted tanks one more try since I really do like the look of live plants and I think it makes fish happier.
In the 5 gallon tanks I am going to use the two sponge filters I have for the 10 gallon. I will be getting new heaters since the one I have is almost too strong for the 10 gallon and won't do for a 5.
I want the two tanks to be low tech.
Substrate: Right now I have Tahitian Moon Sand (in black) but I think maybe dirt would be better for the root plants. I first had EcoComplete but that didn't seem to make a positive difference in the root plants I had. I have used root tabs and iron tabs for the sword plants since sand is inert, but that has also not made a positive difference. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
Lights: I have the Finnex planted+ 24/7 but I suspect that is too strong and it will be too big for either of the 5 gallon tanks. Any suggestions on cost effective lights for a 5 gallon low tech and low light tank will be appreciated.
Plants: I have several anubias, some java fern, one echinodorus vesuvius that I'll have to toss, two amazon swords, and a few small bacopa. I think I might get rid of the plants I have right now as they are not in good condition and are having algae problems. I am thinking of getting new swords, some java fern, and taking suggestions for other plants that would do well in a low light and tech tank. There are only going to be my beta boys in each tank so I'm not sure how many plants one betta can support (provide enough waste for the plants).
pH = 8.2
Ammonia = 0ppm
Nitrite = 0ppm
Nitrate = 5.0ppm
Phosphate = 0.25 or 0.5 ppm
KH = 5 degrees or 50-100ppm
GH = 12 degrees or 140-200 ppm
I know my water is quite hard and that can make it hard for plants to grow. I'm not quite sure what to do about this. I've tried RO water but the hardness always seems to creep back up. Maybe peat moss?
My other option is to forgo live plants and put in a bunch of fake plants, but I'm having difficulty finding websites or LFS that sell a variety of silk plants or silk plants that look somewhat real.