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Old 02-21-2012, 07:48 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: WI, USA
Questions on larger divided tank :)

So I currently have two bettas, each in their own 1-gallon tank with a heater and some plants. I'm getting pretty tired of all the water changes So I'm thinking of moving up to either a 10 gallon or 20 gallon divided tank.

Goals: Ideally, I'd love to have something where I feed, check tank stats as needed, do a 50% water change weekly, and don't really need to do anything else. I'd love to keep plants because my bettas love hiding in the plants so much, but if I had a really good reason I might go plant-less. I like the idea of adding a few tank mates for variety, especially some nerite snails and a group of cory cats, but I'm not tied to it. Mostly, I really want to avoid the labor-intensive regular 100% water changes, so I'd rather have the tank under-stocked than over-stocked.

What I'm thinking of doing right now is picking up a 20 gallon long (maybe next time Petco has a dollar-per-gallon sale?) and setting up the dividers. Then, once the dividers are good, setting up the substrate (maybe fluorite?), plants, filter, heater, water, and some snails, and letting the tank run for a week. If the readings are pretty stable at that point, I'd add about 5 corys to each side and let it run for another week or so to make sure the tank is handling the bio load, and then finally add the two bettas (one to each side of course!)

Cycling: I've read different things about cycling with plants. Some people think you don't need to cycle at all, others think you need to cycle anyways. Any thoughts? If I add one kind of fish first and then the other, should I add the bettas first instead of the corys? I won't really have a good quarantine tank, so I figured that if I add the corys first and they brought something nasty with them, then at least they won't spread it to my bettas.

Tank load: I don't really want to go bigger than a 20 gallon, so is 10 corys, a few snails, and two bettas a heavy load for that size tank? A small load? I could always just keep corys (plus the betta and snails) on one side and just a betta and snails without corys on the other, but I'd rather have the tank balanced.

Substrate: I know with corys I should have a sand type substrate, not gravel. Is fluorite something good to use, or is there something else I should pick out?

Tank changes: could I do just 50% water change weekly with this kind of tank? Are there some changes I could make to get a 50% water change feasible?

Plants: right now I have some cryptocorynes and jave fern in each of my betta tanks. Any recommendations for things to add to that in the new tank? I just have one plant each in the betta tanks, so I know I'd need more than that to fully plant a 20 gallon long

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:07 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Virginia, USA
Glad to see you are joining the divided tank club! I keep my bettas in 10 gal divided tanks, and I will never look back. I can answer most of your questions and will do my best to do so.

Flourite with cories is not a good idea as it has sharp bits in it that will hurt the cories' whiskers. Sand is just fine. You stocking and setup plan sounds great otherwise. Because you don't have a quarantine tank for the cories, adding them first is best, but you will want to add the plants after you add them as some medicines aren't safe to use with plants.

Unless your tank is extremely heavily planted you will still need/have a cycle. Live plants will help make that cycle more bearable for the fish, but you will still want to test the water daily and make water changes. Last time I cycled a tank with plants it took around 2 weeks to be fully established, and it wasn't bad at all.

Do you plan to have a filter? Even if you don't this isn't a heavily stocked tank and wouldn't need 50% water changes. You could easily do 30-40% with enough fast-growing live plants. If you still feel like it, changing more water won't hurt.

Water sprite is a great plant to float as is duckweed (and they're wonderful nutrient sponges). Some stem plants like anarcharis, pennywort, hornwort, rotala, and bacopa would be great for the background. They are also fast-growing. Anubias would be another plant I'd add simply because betta love resting on the huge leaves. Adding more plants means you will need to get a suitable light bulb and think about fertilizing the tank.

Hope I was able to help with some things!

One last note: with a sand substrate you are going to want to get malaysian trumpet snails as cories won't burrow as deep as you need to keep the sand from getting anoxic pockets. You could disturb the sand yourself, but that would not be good for the plants.
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