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Old 11-18-2014, 04:18 PM   #1 
DragonscaleStudyBuddy
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Gonna need some help here

I added Rooibos tea bag to my tank yesterday and I love the dark water. My birthday is next week and I have asked for fish stuff. My ammonia multitest kit will be delivered tomorrow so I will be able to read free and bonded ammonia (I have ammonia in my tap water) since it seems the reason I do not have a cycle established yet is I keep the tank too clean...

So, how do I do it?

What is the best substrate for live tank? I would like to go with black sand but I do not know if that is appropriate.

What plants should I go with as I have led hood lighting?

Are IAL better than the tea? My water is alkaline now at about 8.2-8.4 before I added tea.

What about hidey holes??? Should I remove the Bettalog??

Any advise or ideas would be appreciated. I am going to totally redo the tank so why not make it a group project ;)

Tank is 5 gallon tall with a bowed from. It is the tank in my avatar picture.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:05 PM   #2 
MikeG14
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Black sand will be fine if that's the look you want. Your fish might even find the darker substrate calming. Just be sure to agitate it frequently to prevent gas bubbles from building up causing an odor in the tank and possibly harming your fish. Snails can do a good job of aerating the sand for you as well. You will see every bit of dirt on the black sand, that can be good and bad. I like gravel ( it doesn't make me a bad person).

The betta log is ceramic and as long as your fish is not hurting himself on it, it's fine. I prefer to use terra cotta pots as hideaways in my tanks. Just be sure to open up the bottoms to create a swim through. The holes in the bottom are just small enough to harm a curious betta. You can seal them up with silicone as well. I believe a fish will be more likely to use it if he can see a way out of it.

Good starter plants that will work with LED's are java fern & anubias. Live plants will also help soak up some of that ammonia you've been fighting.

Don't forget to add some top cover to the tank as well, float some anubias for your betta to hide in and he'll be a happy camper. Homemade floating craft mesh betta logs work really well and my fish love them. I use more natural colors for mine so they don't look so ostentatious.

I prefer IAL over the tea. The nice thing is that the floating leaves can provide even more top cover for your fish and if you let them sink it's another hiding spot in the tank. When mine start to sink I put them on top of my betta tubes. I like to create areas of light and dark in my tanks. It gives the fish options and reduces stress.

Driftwood would be a nice addition and will help your water chemistry somewhat. Stay away from shells.

Here's what I brought for show & tell,
http://www.bettafish.com/album.php?u=147578
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:56 PM   #3 
RussellTheShihTzu
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1. Substrate: Black sand is fine but you will need root tabs if you get rooted plants such as Swords. Don't really need to agitate; just poke with chop sticks every once in a while. I find rescaping every six months does the job.

2. Cycle: Test water every day. When Ammonia reaches .25 ppm do a 25% water change and start testing for Nitrites. When *either* Nitrites or Ammonia reach .25 ppm do a 25% change. When Nitrites and Ammonia are steady at 0 check Nitrates. If you have Nitrates your tank is cycled.

3. Plants: Anubias, Crypts, Mosses, Cabomba, Wiseria, are good and will grow with the LEDs you have. You can buy LED strips and place them inside the hood for more light.

Aquarium Light Waterproof LED Tape Lighting Strip SMD 5050 300 LEDs 20 ft White | eBay

4. Betta Log is fine.
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:10 PM   #4 
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Is sand much harder to maintain then gravel?? I doubt anything will be as extensive as what I've been doing :)
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:30 PM   #5 
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Actually, I just found an extremely helpful thread. I do not have the time nor is the space to handle a mature natural tank.... I'll have to climb that mountain after graduation. I am still gonna redo the tank but, I'm going to go a traditional route. Thank you for the help.
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Old 11-18-2014, 10:38 PM   #6 
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IMO, sand is actually much easier as waste stay on the surface and is easy to remove.

Not quite sure what you mean by not having space or time for a mature natural tank, though? If you're referring to cycling, a cycled tank requires far less maintenance than one that isn't. If you have a filter it will cycle unless you clean the media which kills the beneficial bacteria.
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Old 11-19-2014, 06:57 PM   #7 
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By not having time I meant I am a full time student, mom, and wife who is working on the law school admissions process. By space I meant the thread said be ready to have a separate tank for plants after tank takes off but, I guess I do not really have to keep overgrowth but.... a ten gallon tank no bells or whistles to keep plants is cheap.

I need to find that thread again now that I am at my desk.... It was on this forum....
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:35 PM   #8 
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I got it! I thought you mean "natural planted tank" which is, IMO, more work that sand substrate.

It's mostly stem plants like Wisteria, Cabomba, Anacharis, Hornwort that can grow out of control.

Anubias are great, slow-growing plants which don't need to be planted but can either be floated or tied to driftwood or ornaments. Anubias do fine without fertilizer ... at least mine always have because I'm very forgetful. ... and they definitely prefer low light.

Cryptocoryne are easy and don't overtake a tank. They do need to be planted and need the addition of root tabs. The one downside with Crypts is they sometimes "melt" (die back) when first introduced into a tank but they usually come back just fine.

Or, there is a really nice plant, Red Tiger Lotus, than can be a focal point. You can let the pads grow to the surface. Or, you can decide how tall you want them and clip the stems back when they reach that height. Eventually they take the hint and won't grow any taller but will become nice and full.

What a task you've taken on Mom, Spouse, Student! Not sure I ever had that much energy.
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Old 11-21-2014, 03:37 PM   #9 
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Ok. I just ordered aquarium soil (black), cryptocoyyne parva, cryptocoryne lutea, hygro willow, IAL, and Mangrove root decoration that has been sand blasted and coated and looks like a lot of fun to swim through all the holes (if it has sharps Ill just send it back. Hubby also brought me Stability today from our exotic pet store where we get all of our feeders for the reptiles.

Tomorrow gonna go to LPS and buy some sand and a new background (the ocean scene has to go). Looks like everything is going to arrive in the right order soil and sand should be in tank by Sunday evening. I am thinking black sand but my dad does run a pool store so filter sand is an option hmmm...

What is the best kind of aerator can I use with a sand bottom? I have a bubble wand now and I can see where it is not going to work with sand.... I refuse to put on of those goofy diver aerators in my soon to be more natural planted tank.

How many ghost shrimp should I add to the 5 gallon? When would be the best time to add them, after sand? or after all plants are in. Should I buy food for them or will they have enough nutrient sources from the tank? Will they multiply?
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Old 11-21-2014, 04:42 PM   #10 
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Eww.. I just read that the soil is generally warmer than the water. Is this true? I have a fully submergible heater but it seems like if I buried it I would have a hard time adjusting it to make sure the water is the right temperature.
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