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Old 03-24-2014, 09:37 AM   #1 
rpadgett37
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Black water for a Betta?

I've read up on this a bit and would like to know people's experience with this water setup.

As I understand it, Bettas in the wild do live in environments that have plenty of decaying leaves in the water producing black water conditions. I also understand that some Betta breeders place IAL in their breeding tanks (as a minimum).

So I am wondering if there is any real advantage to setting up this environment for the Betta? The aesthetics appeal to me (saw an aquarium with bronze / dark tea colored water and fel in love with the look). There are other benefits as I understand it, but can't help but wonder how Bettas in and out of black water environments compare.

Second, about plants. Can plants survive and flourish in black water? Finding mixed info on this topic. I would like to plant Anubias, Ferns, maybe Crypts and Mosses. Plants coming from soft / black water environments would obviously be the best choice, but with my Fluval Edge 6, I want an easy maintenance planted tank. Plus, at this point, I wouldn't know a black water plant if it bit me on my tushy.

Finally, my tap water starts at KH 20 ppm (1.11 dK) and a PH at 7.2 ( not buffered well at all). GH starts at 40 ppm (2.24 dH) so not really concerned about that. Adding a black water mixture will drop my KH, and at such a low starting point, my PH will plummet (which I would expect). Would adding an alkaline to the water in small amounts, like baking soda or a buffer, compensate without defeating the purpose of using this to begin with? Specific soils will solve this as well, but I don't have that now.

Dosing will be an experiment anyway as I plan to prepare the solution separately.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:57 AM   #2 
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So I'm not that experienced with planted tanks but I garden and try to avoid using anything peat based, which is what blackwater additives contain. Peat is usually harvested from peat bogs, if you read up on them you'll see they're a non-renewable resource and hold a ton of the world's CO2. It takes a long time for peat bogs to regenerate and releasing CO2 into the atmosphere contributes to climate change.

There ARE companies that only use peat from special farms that grow sphagnum and turn it into peat, but most likely the blackwater solution you will use is from an Irish peat bog. That being said, you can use something else to release tannins into the water like driftwood, oak leaves, or indian almond leaf.

I can't answer most of your questions for certain, but I don't think plants will have trouble growing in blackwater. Good luck and hopefully a more knowledgeable user can answer your other questions :)
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:14 AM   #3 
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I can only speak to my experience with IAL, and all of that chemistry stuff goes over my head lol. Rygel seems to enjoy the IAL. His colours are more vibrant, he's more active, he bites his tail less, and he made his first bubblenest after I put the leaf in.
I haven't noticed a ph change at all. But I only use 1/4 of a large leaf, and I'm pretty sure our water is super hard.
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:28 AM   #4 
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Thanks for the reply, AudaxViator. I did find another thread here that answered my questions for me.

Looking at their natural environment, during the dry season, habitats for Bettas become isolated. Some create black water conditions while others do not. Bettas thrive in each. So setting up a slightly acidic, soft water, black water environment for a Betta is just fine. Bettas like these conditions as I understand it.

Though there is no scientific evidence at this point to suggest that black water conditions are better for Bettas than a crystal clear aquarium environment, Betta breeders and Betta keepers alike who do use this environment report that their Bettas appear healthier and more active in black water (typically prepared from Indian Almond Leaves). So, seems like a preference rather than a necessity. Certainly doesn't hurt anything.

As for plants, those that like or thrive in slightly acidic and softwater conditions will do just fine. Anubias, Some ferns, mosses will all be good picks.

I've read of several ways to create the environment. Placing IAL directly in the aquarium. The leaves can also be boiled to create an IAL tea for those (like me) who don't like the look of decaying leaves on the bottom of the aquarium. Found a couple of products that are premixed with the stuff provided by items that produce these conditions. Saltyshrimp has a product called Black Water Powder and Tetra makes a product called Black Water Extract. Both seem to work just fine.

Finally, from all I've read and in private conversations, my tap water is just fine as is. Perhaps a small boost to KH with Baking Soda or an alkaline buffer, but nothing more.

Last edited by rpadgett37; 03-25-2014 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:31 AM   #5 
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Originally Posted by cheekysquirrel View Post
I can only speak to my experience with IAL, and all of that chemistry stuff goes over my head lol. Rygel seems to enjoy the IAL. His colours are more vibrant, he's more active, he bites his tail less, and he made his first bubblenest after I put the leaf in.
I haven't noticed a ph change at all. But I only use 1/4 of a large leaf, and I'm pretty sure our water is super hard.
lol... you posted your note at the same time I was prepping mine.

Everything you said confirms some of what I've read about bettas in an IAL black water environment. Thanks for posting your experience here. Very helpful.
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:12 PM   #6 
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Originally Posted by rpadgett37 View Post
Thanks for the reply, AudaxViator. I did find another thread here that answered my questions for me.
Yup research is the way to go, much better to get 10 opinions from random internet strangers than just one. You probably don't even need a pH buffer since 7.2 is basically neutral. Oh and post your tank on here when it's all set up! A hint for plants: bring a list of beginner/easy plants with you to the store so you don't make impulse buys and get the pretty ones only to find out they aren't aquatic. Especially if you go to Petco/Petsmart =p Jealous of your Edge, I'm sure it will look awesome planted. You said low maintenance, what sort of setup are you thinking of? NPT I assume?
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:56 PM   #7 
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Originally Posted by AudaxViator View Post
Yup research is the way to go, much better to get 10 opinions from random internet strangers than just one. You probably don't even need a pH buffer since 7.2 is basically neutral. Oh and post your tank on here when it's all set up! A hint for plants: bring a list of beginner/easy plants with you to the store so you don't make impulse buys and get the pretty ones only to find out they aren't aquatic. Especially if you go to Petco/Petsmart =p Jealous of your Edge, I'm sure it will look awesome planted. You said low maintenance, what sort of setup are you thinking of? NPT I assume?
Good advice, and by low maintenance, I mean plants that I can attach to rocks so any pruning takes place outside of the tank. Anubias and Java Ferns definitely fit that bill, as does moss on rocks and driftwood.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:00 AM   #8 
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Sounds cool! You mentioned soil in your first post but if you're just doing those types of plants you won't need it.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:18 AM   #9 
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Sounds cool! You mentioned soil in your first post but if you're just doing those types of plants you won't need it.
My bad. Meant to say using sand as the substrate.
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