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Old 12-02-2012, 01:01 PM   #1 
Aside
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should I set up a planted tank?

I'm sure you guys are getting sick of all my questions. I'm heading off to college soon and am going to bring my as of yet unpurchased betta fish. I want to give him (or her) the best possible life. I know I'm going to be busy with class work and not necessarily always have time for frequent water changes. I have a 2 gallon hex tank so it's going to be really hard to maintain a cycle but also my cycle would crash every break. My tank will probably only be coming back and forth over the summer holidays and I'll just transport my betta and set up a little temporary house for him over 2-3 week breaks.

Because a cycle doesn't seem like a great idea I though maybe if I planted my tank pretty heavily I could limit ammonia build up. I've been doing some reading. Am I best of forgoing the dirt and just use sand/fine gravel or should I try for a npt.

Can I do this in my little two gallon hex? I'm not totally opposed to getting a new tank but I don't A) want to spend a ton a ton of money (this tank was a gift) and B) while I know it's not totally ideal I like the small footprint. I'm going to be living in a dorm so space is an issue. I want to stay in the 2-3 gallon range. Recommendations to kits with either decent lights or lights that can just have bulbs switched out our welcome.

My tank I think has little LEDS so I'm obviously going to need an additional light if I stick with that. Can I just use a desk lamp with the bulb switched out for whatever wattage it needs.

Recommended plants are also great. I'd like some sort of carpet but I read that carpet plants are kind of difficult. Is there any plant I can use to kind of imitate the look?

Also, will I be able to keep a snail to help control algae and what not. I was thinking maybe a nerite because I know they can't reproduce in feshwater.

Any tips, tricks, and suggestions are highly appreciated.
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Old 12-02-2012, 01:36 PM   #2 
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Starting my NPT was the best decision I ever made tank wise. I believe that if you start a NPT you run the chance of it crashing, but I have never had any problems with mine. I have soil with sand on top, and I started with several types of plants. I guessed and got lucky basically. I picked out some random plants and happened to pick out some fast growing stem plants, Amazon Swords, and a java fern. (The java fern died and I had some sort of land plant that I grabbed on accident and ended up throwing away). I think if you get a large variety of plants the tank is less likely to crash.

Also, I have some natural light that hits one side of the tank and causes algae, but I bought three nerite snails and they are amazing. If you decide to go with sand, make sure you poke it to get rid of air pockets. I am actually about to put in a new filter because my NPT currently has a filter from walmart and it's starting to shed black flakes into my tank and I'm pretty sure that is not a good thing. SO, you may be seeing an "OMG MY TANK CRASHED" thread soon :P I will be putting one of the filter pads in the new one but we shall see if that works.

Summary: NPT's require a delicate balance, BUT I do a lot less work on this tank because the plants have somehow reached their own kind of cycle. I have no ammonia, no nitrates and no Nitrites EVER. I change my tank weekly because tannins leech into my water column and I don't like the color of the water. I know my fish do but I can't stand it.

If you do decide to do an NPT: Make sure you can turn the light on consistently each day. If you leave for weeks this would require a timer. Another problem with leaving for weeks is that you would take the fish out... which means no food for the plants.

I will post a pic and more info on my tank after I clean it in a few minutes lol. I don't like posting tannin-y water pics.
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:14 PM   #3 
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I think you'd have a happier fish if you went with a rectangular glass 5 gallon tank. Just wait for a Petco $1 per gallon sale. You will take a lot of room in the tank for your substrate whether or not you do an NPT (and I highly recommend an NPT as they're very low maintenance). Also with a tank this size you can comfortably house some MTS to aerate your soil to prevent gas pockets. Plants take up space too, so even in a 5 gallon NPT you will end up with maybe 2 gallons of clear space for the fish to swim around in. I also find that bettas and plants in NPT's tend to do best with an air-driven sponge filter.

Once your NPT is established, you can get away with very few water changes.

I'm pretty sure you can use the desk lamp, as long as you stick with low-medium light plants. I suggest you include some good oxygenators like anacharis, frogbit, duckweed, and hornwort. And maybe some java fern, anubias, amazon swords, that kind of thing for the bottom of the tank.
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:15 PM   #4 
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hmmm. I'm just don't know if I have room for a 5 gallon in my dorm. And I don't know who my roommate is so I can't really run a tank by them. I figure with the little tank it shouldn't be a problem but once I get up to five gallons that's more room and I'd feel better running it by them. Unfortunately I don't find out until like a week before I move it. Maybe I can see if they have the five gallon hex tanks when I go to petco. At least those have a smaller footprint to annoy a potential roommate less?

also say my tank gets 10 hours of light a day does it have to be the same 10 hours? My schedule will probably vary so is there a little wiggle room or does it have to be exact.

will MTS help with algae as well as the soil? Als with they reproduce like crazy?

I'm leaning towards an NPT but I'm nervous. I don't want to mess anything up.
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:25 PM   #5 
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MTS only overpopulate if you overfeed the fish in the tank. And I have a varying schedule so my lights are not on at the exact same time each day. I can even get away with being gone a couple days and having the light left off. I would have MTS if I could find somewhere to buy them. It's just a lot less hassle to stir the sand.
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:39 PM   #6 
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>>> If you want more water, but don't want to take up too much space, I highly recommend hitting you local homegoods store. Oftentimes, they have large glassware, that is not only unique, but I find them suitable for bettas.
Just PLEASE do remember that the more "water surface" you have, the better, so don't get something fat at the bottom and small at the top (also, terrible for cleaning, I assume). And choose wisely, taking into consideration all of your equipment.

>>> I, personally, recommend at least a few live plants. IME, bettas with live plants are more active and more colorful, which tells me that they're happier and healthier. Plus, of course, plants are good for the water chemistry... And they're pretty.
Try > Anubias
> Anacharis/Egeria
> Java Fern
> Bacopa

And you can get a "Moss Lawn/Patch" at many pet stores, if you want one.
I'm trying to get Hairgrass to grow as a lawn, but it's not too easy. :-/
>> I try to stick to bunch plants for my smaller set-ups, because they're kind enough to grow up and around, rather than out. The exception is Java Fern, which I now have a piece of in everybody's habitat. That's how that stuff grows, FTR.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:01 PM   #7 
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I really appreciate all the replies guys. The more you guys say the more excited I am to set up an NPT. I'm aware that bettas need to be able to reach the surface so while I want something with a smallish footprint I'll make sure they still have adequate surface room.

thanks for tip about looking for glassware. I just Tupperware as a temporary home for my last betta, it wasn't exactly pretty but I'm sure glassware would look a lot nicer xD not that I'm really all too fussed with appearance. I'd rather have a happy fish.

Where is the best place to get fish. Am I best off ordering from a specific website, scouting aquabid/ebay, or looking to see what they have at my local petco? I want to get quality/healthy plants so they have the best chance of flourishing and a lower chance of my tank crashing.

Also, what about adding a semi aquatic plant to the top like lucky bamboo. I remember reading that since they tend to grow faster they can suck up a ton of ammonia. Is that a good or bad idea.

Another reason I'm super excited to do an NPT is in addition to a lighter water changes I really want a snail (or if I go with mts instead of nerites perhaps a couple). A couple months ago I would have been like ewww snails but not I'm super excited. I'm doing a semester in Siena, Italy and they have these things called contradas. They are the different neighborhoods but I like to think of them kind of like Hogwarts houses. Anyway I'm in the chiocciola contrada which is the snail contrda so YAY SNAILS.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:12 PM   #8 
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Ahem...teeny tiny voice here...don't want to make anyone angry....

You can also buy some planted tank substrate (caribsea makes floramax...I got it at petsmart) and use that. It is nice because it is more friendly for plants but less of a mess if you have to move the tank. I don't think it alters your chemistry at all.

So...IMHO (seriously take with a grain of salt)....a planted tank with substrate, just a little diff. from a NPT, might work too.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:18 PM   #9 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aside View Post
Where is the best place to get fish. Am I best off ordering from a specific website, scouting aquabid/ebay, or looking to see what they have at my local petco? I want to get quality/healthy plants so they have the best chance of flourishing and a lower chance of my tank crashing.
Definitely check out Aquabid for fish, or find out if you have an independent fish store near you. If you can find out when Petco gets a new shipment, that's the best time to get a healthy fish. Petsmart and Petco have a decent selection of low light plants, anubias and swords especially. Just don't buy anything that is clearly dying or any plant you don't know about. They do sell some plants that aren't supposed to be aquatic in the same section as the aquatic ones in those tubes.

I have had some success with buying plants online, just make sure the seller can offer heat or cold packs depending on what the weather will be like between the seller and you. Plants aren't going to survive too well in freezing temps or above 85 degrees.

And as tempting as plants from Asian sellers might be, it is illegal to import them without a license, so Aquabid is a good source of U.S. sellers. Bob's Tropical Plants has a decent selection of low light plants too, including a good price right now on bolbitis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bethyMT View Post
Ahem...teeny tiny voice here...don't want to make anyone angry....

You can also buy some planted tank substrate (caribsea makes floramax...I got it at petsmart) and use that. It is nice because it is more friendly for plants but less of a mess if you have to move the tank. I don't think it alters your chemistry at all.

So...IMHO (seriously take with a grain of salt)....a planted tank with substrate, just a little diff. from a NPT, might work too.
You're right, there are good substrates out there. I guess I just like NPT's because buying potting mix and sand is cheaper :P I so use Fluorite in one of my tanks though.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:22 PM   #10 
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hah, thanks. That was supposed to say plants not fish woops. I'd love to get an aquabid fish (I spend more time than I'd like to admit scouting out my dream fishes) but I think with the price of shipping it might be out of my price range. I'm just a poor college student. So I'll probably get my fish at either petco or petsmart. Maybe if I'm feeling adventurous I'll head to chinatown because they have some nice fish stores. Of course that means my poor fish would need to take several subways home.

also, bethy, I'll def look into that. Less messy when moving is a plus because my tank is going to have to be moved at least twice a year.

Also, say I brought my betta home for winter/summer breaks (well not if, obviously I will) will the snails/plants be okay for a couple weeks? I could try to leave the tank near the window so it'll get some light and I'm think that maybe the plants could feed the snails and the snails produce enough ammonia to feed the plants. But I don't know if that would actually work. Could come back to a messed up tank?

Last edited by Aside; 12-02-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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