Before I discovered play sand, I used silica sand. It's not quite as fine, but it looks nice and doesn't alter the ph. In town we get it from a place that sells stones and crushed stones and gravel used in landscaping.
Yes, landscaping supply stores are another option for finding different sized sands and gravel. Do not go larger than the stuff pet stores sell, something between that and sand would be perfect if you want to go that route.
The only thing you have to watch out for is if it will slowly dissolve in water, like the crushed coral will. I don't know what all rock does, I know for example that limestone does. A test is using an acid, like vinegar, to see if it fizzes. If it does, bad choice. It's not 100% but does give an idea.
Just keep in mind that if you go with the epoxy coated gravel, or play sand, there are zero nutrients in it so using Flourish Comprehensive is a must (I recommend it anyways).
EDIT: Flourish is pretty concentrated. For a 10 gallon the weekly dose is 0.8 mL I believe. So the smallest bottle, 250 mL, would last you 312 weeks which is six years. It never expires so no worries about that.
With two betta I don't think you're adding a lot of bioload. That said plant well enough and just watch it, I think you'll be fine.
Do drain the tank to switch the substrate, it's also much easier to plant with only a couple inches of water. Posted via Mobile Device
Since your going open top...get two light strips and if you get the 22/23inch size they will sit perfect on top of the tank with a slight hang-over..This is how I have my lights on my 10gal NPT....On the 20gal I have to use slats I cut from yard sticks to place on the lip for the light strips to sit on.
Change the bulbs to the Daylight 6500k 20w for 10gal and the 15 gal...
Natural planted is a soil based...if its your first time to grow plants...I would recommend that you do lots of research before you try NPT soil based....Lots of thing can go wrong and usually it is due to improper lights and not enough of the right species of plants to start off with-then you can have anaerobic issues and the tank can crash......
I thought natural planted was just another name for low-tec planted approach (ie no high lighting, no injected CO2, no heavy ferts). And that the soil method was the Walstad Planted Tank. I've never had any interested in soil tanks, but I'm just trying to clean up some confusion on my end.
In Hawaii the choices for sand are limited. (Kind of ironic) I am able to get pool sand that is size 20. Is that a good size for plants? Approximately $27 50 lbs
Another choice I had was a place that specialized in sand. They actually had aquarium sand. (So they said) but only natural color. They had a few sizes from 30's to 8. 8 still being way smaller then pet store gravel? Would 8 be a better choice? Approx $25 50 lbs
Lastly I could shell out the big bucks for pet store sand. Which is nice cause I could get black. $50-60 for 50 lbs.
I have not found play sand or 3m colorquartz (discountinued in black at the one place that used to carry it) and yes Hawaii things are expensive.
So of my choices... what would be best?
Sorry for jumping on someone else's thread but I thought they might like the info too.