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Old 08-19-2013, 09:10 AM   #1 
siphuyoda
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A couple of questions

Hi guys! I recently bought a 10gal tank that I intend to divide and put 2 Bettas in. I'm a first time betta owner and have no experience with any fish whatsoever, so I've been doing lots of research and this forum has been a treasure trove of information. However I do have a couple of questions. Keep in mind that I am still in the planning phases of my tank so nothing is concrete.

1) I know I want to have live plants. That's for sure. I've seen pictures and live plants just seem so much more....natural in a tank. Love it. For live plants, though, would I need to have soil as my substrate and then cap it off with sand or gravel? Or would I be fine with just sand or gravel as my substrate?

2) If soil is required, would that become a natural planted tank then? I've read Oldfishlady's sticky about NPTs and the one thing she did stress was that if I did not have enough plants to start a soil-based tank, do not start one. How many plants is considered enough?

3) For natural planted tanks, would I rely solely on the silent cycle or could I cycle the tank beforehand and add plants later? NPT is constantly associated with the silent cycle, but no one has ever mentioned of cycling a tank first and adding plants later.

4) Which plants would be good for a 10gal tank that is 20x11x10in? I'd prefer to not have fast growing plants that requires a trimming every couple of days, but I would like some tall ones that won't get out of hand to cover the filter, heater, etc.

Thanks for looking guys and sorry for the bombardment of questions. I just like to do my research and do things right the first time rather than experiment, kill some plants/fish, and redo it correctly the second time.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:07 AM   #2 
DefStatic
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I am going to chime in here with some info, but just kind of out of sequence, and not specific...

First, do not trust Petco/Petsmart plants. Not everything they sell is aquatic. They do have some decent plants though, you just have to sort out the junk that isn't really aquatic.

You can't use "gravel" exactly. When you say gravel, I am guessing you mean the colored rocks. I suggest either sand (petco has decent sand) or something more meant for plants (i.e. a bag of FloraMax from PetSmart woudl suit your tank fine).

I have never done a soil with a cap. Beyond my expertise.

Plants I would suggest for beginners:
Wysteria
Moneywort
Amazon/Argentine Sword
Most Vals are easy to take care of

Those are things you will most likely find at your LFS. Those are all plants that can be put into your substrate. Some other plants (like most ferns, Java Fern for example) are supposed to be tied to something above the substrate.

You can cycle first and then add plants. But honestly, why not cycle with plants? Your cycle will go much smoother.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:06 PM   #3 
Fin Fancier
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1) gravel is fine for plants as long as you add fertilization. Many plants such as anacharis,anubais, and java ferns do just fine in gravel based tanks with little to no fertilization. Anubais and java fern can't have their rhizomes buried they do just fine attached to a decoration, and anacharis can just as easily float as stay in place. I've found bettas like floating plants since they are a mid to top level swimmer, mostly.
2) Most of the recommendations I've seen for NPTs suggest that you be able to cover about 75% of the substrate (soil in this case) with fast growing stem plants. The plants roots help to aerate the soil to avoid anaerobic pockets forming. The plants also take up all of the nutrients because if there is extra look out for all sorts of 'fun' algae problems.
3) Either way is fine. When I first started playing with plants one of my tanks silently cycled on me before I even know what that was. My only suggestion is to get a water test kit so you cna track your cycle no matter what way you decide to do it.
4) Other than the ones mentioned in my first bit I've had good luck with banana plants, wisteria, and moneywort as well.

Godo luck wit your new tank. Planted tanks can be frustrating, but once you've got everything balanced out they are extremely satisfying, and can be just as addicting as the fish you put in them.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:17 AM   #4 
siphuyoda
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OK, so a NPT seems like a route that I don't want to go. 75% coverage seems like a lot to me. Thanks for the info guys!

Oh one more thing, is there such thing as a pretreatment for plants before introducing them to a tank? Like an acclimation period for fish or a dechlorinator for the water.
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