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Old 03-17-2013, 05:44 PM   #1 
Phantom Miria
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Help with setting up a 20g NPT

Hello! I am new here, but I have been doing my best to read up and make an informed post.

I have one female betta that was given to me about six months ago by a family member. It was pretty spontaneous and unexpected, however, she really started to grow on me and since then I've come to absolutely adore this betta and her personality. She's been through quite a lot; surviving winter time without a heater (at one point she didn't eat for eight days!), and an entire move in a vehicle. She was quite lethargic and her colors dulled during the winter time (before I knew much about betta care) but she has since then bounced back and is extremely happy, healthy, and has great color (she was treated with betta revive). I was feeding her twice a day for some time, but I'm cutting down to once a day. Since she's held on so well I want to create the best habitat to my ability for her. She was given to me in a small 3/4 gallon fish bowl and has been living there ever since, so me and her are both quite anxious to get her into the new 20 gallon tank (I just want to make sure I do it right!). Despite her small tank, she seems happy for now and explores what little room there is to explore all the time (she also tends to make a lot of bubbles which is abnormal for a female o.O).

Anyways, I just picked up my used setup for $80 off of CL today which consists of a 20 gallon tank on a stand (it has no hood but I don't think this is really a problem), a Marineland reef capable 18-24" LED light that is supposidly rated at 10000K, a siphon vacuum hose, and a top fin 30 adjustable tank filter. The tank is relatively clean and I did the flashlight check when I picked it up. All the silicone seems to be intact, un-rotted, and no signs of leaking, cracks or scars. The tank is around eight years old and the previous owner had a Bala shark and Cichlids in the tank (seems kind of cruel for a 20g tank). I have done my best to read up on creating a good habitat for my betta but I still have a lot of unanswered questions;

My first question is in reference to the how to guide on NPT's. At the end of the guide it states 'Once you have 1 thriving soil based tank-you will soon need another tank due to the plant growth.' This 20g tank is already pushing it in space in my room, I will definitely not be able to have another tank. Is this absolutely necessary or is there another way I can possibly trim the plants so I don't have to transfer them to another tank?

Next I am wondering what specific plant species will be best for this type of tank setup and how many I should be adding. I really like the natural look and have honestly not seen a setup I didn't like. I also love the idea of creating an entire ecosystem in this aquarium. I know that betta's like plants that grow to nearly the top of the water so they can rest near the top when they need to breathe. My tank is 15" high (will obviously be less when flled), do I just clip the plants when they start getting too tall? I am a little worried if they are too high it might encourage her to jump out, is this an irrational worry? Also, will my Marine Land LED light be enough to allow the plants to grow? I was reading that 6500k is needed at least so I assume 10000k should be enough.

Since she seems stable (for now) in her small fishbowl, I'd like to start the cycle process in the 20gallon tank asap and get whatever tank mates and plant life she needs into the aquarium before I introduce her. I've read that this is best as betta's tend to be territorial, and she might harass the other tank mates if they are introduced into the system after her. I'm not crazy about the idea of red shrimps or mystery snails, but I really like the idea of an Otocinclus/Dwarf sucker in the tank (I'm also not very interested in creating a female betta sorority). So would a dwarf sucker be a good tank mate for her? If so should I have more than one in the tank?

In reference to the question above, how should I perform the overall process? I'm pretty sure you put the dirt in first, then cap, plants, water and sea life but I'm just not exactly sure how long to wait between processes, etc. In the NPT guide it states; 'If you properly setup the soil based tank-you can safely add all your livestock on the same day you set it up.' It would be really nice if I could do that but I absolutely don't want to endanger my betta. Could somebody expand on that a bit more please? I'm still a bit confused how a betta could be added into a setup so soon without it being cycled properly.

Like I said, the tank has been unused for quite some time. It seems pretty clean, but how should I clean it out before filling it up? I read that sometimes you can use bleach, but that sounds like a really bad idea to me. And for that matter,what is the best way to clean out the filter, vacuum hose, etc.?

The setup came with a top fin 30 filter, but I know betta's don't like current. Will this filter create too strong of a current for my betta? If so, would performing the filter baffle mod make it suitable?

When the time comes to introduce my betta, how should I do it? Is it suitable to just put her in all at once, or should I slowly introduce the water to her somehow?

I've been using drinking water bought at my local Fry's for my betta. The drinking water I've been buying is carbon filtered and ozonated by reverse osmosis and is from a municipal source. Is it a good idea to start using tap water and treat it with Prime? I read this may be a bit better as it will contain minerals she needs. I live in a pretty populated suburban area in Phoenix so I'm sure the water quality isn't the best.

In the NPT guide it suggests using normal sand or pool filter sand. Would something like this be suitable?
http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...57&cagpspn=pla

Finally, what kind of heater should I buy for this setup? I live in Arizona and she seems pretty content with the temperature for now (basically summer), but I want to make sure its perfect. Any specific brand, rating etc.?

I apologize in advance if I am asking menial questions that I'm sure have been asked before at some point. I did my best to read up on most of them and had a hard enough time decrypting some of the acronyms used on these forums xD I just want to make sure my betta doesn't get sick and has a happy life in her new home.

Any help or advice is very much appreciated!
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:24 PM   #2 
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I only know some things, so I'll try my best to answer some of your questions based on my experience :P

It's not absolutely necessary to have a second tank set up to house your trimmings. You can throw them out, give/sell them to many eager hobbyists, or put them in a repurposed jar if they're low tech plants.

I was told to cover 75% of the tank with stem plants and 10% floating because they're fast growing and use up excess nutrients. With enough plants going through active growth, the tank should be safe enough to add livestock on the first day. However, in my case, I was getting readings of ammonia up to 1 ppm, although this may have been because my set up was so small (2.5 gallons as opposed to your 20 gal). This went away eventually when I added some BB seeding material for a couple weeks.

10000k seems pretty sufficient, but I'm still a newbie with lighting. Do you know how old the light is itself? The intensity dies down over time even though the human eye doesn't notice (plants do, and that's what matters).

I believe otos are social fish so I'd get more than one, not sure what the optimum number for a 20 gallon is though.

I used to live in AZ, and I agree that the water there isn't generally the best lol. My fish were fine with conditioned tap water though so I wouldn't be too worried.

The pool filter sand you linked to seems fine, according to the reviews :)
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:33 PM   #3 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Dragon View Post
I only know some things, so I'll try my best to answer some of your questions based on my experience :P

It's not absolutely necessary to have a second tank set up to house your trimmings. You can throw them out, give/sell them to many eager hobbyists, or put them in a repurposed jar if they're low tech plants.

I was told to cover 75% of the tank with stem plants and 10% floating because they're fast growing and use up excess nutrients. With enough plants going through active growth, the tank should be safe enough to add livestock on the first day. However, in my case, I was getting readings of ammonia up to 1 ppm, although this may have been because my set up was so small (2.5 gallons as opposed to your 20 gal). This went away eventually when I added some BB seeding material for a couple weeks.

10000k seems pretty sufficient, but I'm still a newbie with lighting. Do you know how old the light is itself? The intensity dies down over time even though the human eye doesn't notice (plants do, and that's what matters).

I believe otos are social fish so I'd get more than one, not sure what the optimum number for a 20 gallon is though.

I used to live in AZ, and I agree that the water there isn't generally the best lol. My fish were fine with conditioned tap water though so I wouldn't be too worried.

The pool filter sand you linked to seems fine, according to the reviews :)
Thanks for the reply!
Its good to hear its not absolutely necessary to have another tank. However it may very well happen in the future, the more I read up on this the more I enjoy it! :D The water is not the best here, but we just use filters at my house to drink the tap water ourselves so I assume, conditioned, it should be suitable for betta's.

I'm pretty sure the lighting is a few years old, but it seems to be in very good condition. Even if it is getting dull as you said, it is rated at 10000k and 6500k is the minimum for plants to grow as I understand. The model number for my Marine Land is 01L32. I believe its discontinued.

I wouldn't mind at all having a little school of Otis. I believe you're supposed to keep the numbers odd in a school, so maybe 5 or 7? I also wouldn't mind another species so long as none of them are crowded and don't harm my betta.

I've been taking some time to look at a lot of the different plants listed in the NPT sticky. I really don't care for the look of the withered plants like the crypt bronze. I'm going to go ahead and list of some plants that I really enjoyed;

For the stemmed plants I particularly liked the
Cabomba caroliniana, Hygrophila dfformis, and Rotala indica. I called a locally owned pet store and they have 'bundles' (which I assume is around five) of Cabomba for like $3 as well as a lot of other types of species I listed/am listing.

For rosette plants I liked the Vallisneria spiralis, chain sword, and Sagittaria subulata. For floating plants I thought the water lettuce was nice, frogbit was OK, but I hated the duckweed. Since only 10% of my tank should be floating plants, should I just stick to one species of floating plant?

My favorite plant was the Aponogeton ulvaceus. I'd really like it in the tank assuming it coincides with the betta alright. Other plants I'd like in the tank are some red lilies and java fern.

If anyone has any suggestions or advice on the plants I've listed or the amount I should put in the tank, please let me know. I don't really care for the crowded tank look. Here is an example of a few tanks I'd like mine to resemble;

http://i268.photobucket.com/albums/j...7/IMG_1709.jpg


http://bettacare101.com/images/planted.jpg


http://chekyang.com/musings/wp-conte...a-CIMG1608.jpg
For the different types of logs and rocks in some of the pictures above, how do you get plants to grow on them like that?

Any help and advice is appreciated!
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:10 PM   #4 
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I don't have any experience with a lot of the plants you listed (some are banned in California sadly D: ) but I do recognize them as plants that are generally easy to care for. I have the Hygrophila difformis/water wisteria and it adds a really nice touch to the aquarium :) When you trim it right above the nodes, it gets bushier and bushier--it fills in empty space quite well.

Highly recommend the dwarf lily, it's a fast grower, doesn't need too much light, and adds a nice reddish color to the aquarium. My betta and shrimp also like to camp out underneath the leaves, it's so cute :D
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:50 AM   #5 
Phantom Miria
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Double post by accident*

Last edited by Phantom Miria; 03-18-2013 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:55 AM   #6 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Dragon View Post
I don't have any experience with a lot of the plants you listed (some are banned in California sadly D: ) but I do recognize them as plants that are generally easy to care for. I have the Hygrophila difformis/water wisteria and it adds a really nice touch to the aquarium :) When you trim it right above the nodes, it gets bushier and bushier--it fills in empty space quite well.

Highly recommend the dwarf lily, it's a fast grower, doesn't need too much light, and adds a nice reddish color to the aquarium. My betta and shrimp also like to camp out underneath the leaves, it's so cute :D
CA has the weirdest laws... -.- last time I was there, they were talking about banning windex... anyways, the Hygrophila difformis is definitely one I'm planning on including.

That's exactly why I wanted the dwarf lily haha :D! Right now my girl is on top of my wine cooler so when I shut it to fast I accidentally scare her and she quickly hides under the *only* fake plant she has in her bowl. She likes to hang out under plants in general so I thought that one was perfect as well =]

Does anyone have any god sponge filter suggestions? I think my top fin 30 is not going to work out :s

Last edited by Phantom Miria; 03-18-2013 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:40 AM   #7 
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Originally Posted by Phantom Miria View Post
CA has the weirdest laws... -.- last time I was there, they were talking about banning windex... anyways, the Hygrophila difformis is definitely one I'm planning on including.

That's exactly why I wanted the dwarf lily haha :D! Right now my girl is on top of my wine cooler so when I shut it to fast I accidentally scare her and she quickly hides under the *only* fake plant she has in her bowl. She likes to hang out under plants in general so I thought that one was perfect as well =]

Does anyone have any god sponge filter suggestions? I think my top fin 30 is not going to work out :s
Tell me about it x_x Lucky for you, I dont think AZ has any banned aquatic plants.

Aww what a cutie, I'll bet she'll love the upgrade :D
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:15 PM   #8 
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I've got my powerhead, sponge filter, heater, Prime, and API kit on the way. I'm going to use flourite as my substrate and just the ace pool filter sand as my cap. I'm just wondering if I'm going to need any plant tabs or anything special? I'm still trying to decide on what plants will be going into the tank. As for tank mates I went to a local pet shop and they have some really health looking otto's and nerites. I'm also wondering if snails will be necessary as well for this tank :s
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