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Old 12-11-2013, 12:38 PM   #1 
kman
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New tank setup for Fluval Spec

Hiya! Glad to find this forum; it's given me a lot to read and consider while I slowly gather things to get set up for a new betta! (I had posted this info in another thread but I think this standalone thread is probably the better way to go about it.)

I previously had a Betta in a tiny Leeís Betta Keeper (maybe Ĺ gal, at best?). He was marvelous, and lived on my desk at the office for over 7 years before he got sick (swim bladder issue, couldnít swim down anymore) and passed after a couple of weeks, in spite of all kinds of attempted remedies. But prior to that, he was healthy and happy for a nice long time. There was no tank heater, but the office (large corporate skyscraper) is nicely temperature controlled here in SoCal, so temps were nice and stable. No filters or anything, but regular water changes. He had a little ďbetta bulbĒ (unknown plant species) that grew into a plant he loved. (The plant did ok, but never really ďthrivedĒ in that small, unlit bowl.) I sure miss the little fella. He was great entertainment, and the whole office adored him... anyone walking by my desk always got a show! :) The most personality Iíve EVER seen in a fish, by far. He really enjoyed watching me work (which is good, because I work a lot). I think having something interesting to look at (me, mostly) and frequent interaction kept him clearly happy and engaged, even in a small living environment like that. I would bring him home for any absences longer than a three day weekend and for extended holidays, so he didnít have to go too long without feeding. (People at work fought over the right to feed him when I went on vacations!) It was heartbreaking to lose him, but at least he had a nice long life.


(This pic was taken before I switched to the live plant, sadly, I donít think I ever got one when the live plant was in there and doing well.)

But enough reminiscing.

Itís been nearly 6 months since little Bates passed, and Iím finally ready for another betta. This time, Iím going a little bit bigger. I canít have a large setup on my desk, but Iíve ordered the Fluval Spec (2 gals but most reports say itís really 1.5 gals) which should arrive in 2 days, and Iím looking forward to figuring out how best to get it set up. (I also have a Marina C10 10w heater coming, and a thermometer.) I figure Iíll wait until the new year before I purchase the new betta, both to avoid concern about care during an upcoming vacation and holiday office closures, and so I have plenty of time (a month) to get the new tank set up, established and ready for occupancy!

I would love to have some live plants in this tank, although I donít want to overdo it. Any recommendations? Iíd prefer plants that I can find at a local PetCo/PetSmart, since shipping small aquatic plants is absurdly expensive, but Iíll order online if thatís really the only way to get the best results. I need to be able to clean the tank easily, so canít overdo it. I like a clean, uncluttered-looking tank. An NPT (check out my lingo... Iíve been doing some reading here! LOL) seems perfect from a maintenance POV, but frankly I donít think the Specís little built-in light will support a huge amount of plantlife, and I donít think I can add supplemental lighting without it looking hinky and getting annoyed looks from the powers that be.

And finally, as to inhabitants, while before I had only my little betta, this time, based on reading Iíve done, I think Iíd love to have a betta, an African dwarf frog or two, maybe some shrimp, and a mystery snail or two to help with the cleaning. Does that sound like a reasonable setup? Iím not sure about the shrimp but Iíve read a report from a guy who had the betta-frog-snail combo in the same Spec tank with good results, so I think that should be very feasible.

Any tips or recommendations would be gratefully appreciated! Iím REALLY excited to get this cool little tank set up!
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:35 AM   #2 
Hallyx
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Anubias, Java moss, Java fern. All have extremely low light requirements. They are not the kind of plant that can process enough ammonia to be suitable for a NPT. Planted tank maintenance can be messy, and the lighting required to grow a sufficient quantity of suitable plants would surely go over the distraction threshold.

Your experience with you first office Betta was outstanding. You can really hope for little more, except more space to swim and a more interesting tank for both of you.
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Old 12-12-2013, 01:41 PM   #3 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hallyx View Post
Anubias, Java moss, Java fern. All have extremely low light requirements. They are not the kind of plant that can process enough ammonia to be suitable for a NPT. Planted tank maintenance can be messy, and the lighting required to grow a sufficient quantity of suitable plants would surely go over the distraction threshold.

Your experience with you first office Betta was outstanding. You can really hope for little more, except more space to swim and a more interesting tank for both of you.
Thanks. I've been reading up on people's choices for similar-size tanks here and at the PlantedTank, and have come up with a list of some plant options, including the ones you recommend. Obviously I can't have ALL of these in such a small tank (maybe 4 at the most, I'd think), but would these work well?

Anubias
Anubis Nana
Java Moss
Java Fern
Water Lettuce
Green Foxtail
Crypts
Needle Leaf
Sunset Hydro
Blyxa Jap
Flame Moss

I know people successfully run these little Spec tanks as NPTs, so it must be possible.

Substrate is also a bit of a stumper. I was leaning towards Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Soil, but so far I've struck out finding it locally. If I can't find it, I might just go with Eco Complete with a layer of black Iron Slag/blasting powder on top. It'll work it's want down into the larger EC rocks, I know, but I can always add more on top as needed to keep it looking good. The EC option would need root tabs of some sort perhaps Osmocote capsules, but could still work, I think. It's a little hard to tell for sure since I'm new to this. :(
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:02 AM   #4 
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You don't need a full-on NPT to provide enough ammonia-processing for one Betta. But you do need fast-growing plants that eat ammonia fast. Those require trimming and pruning, as well as the right kind and amount of fertilizer and the correct lighting.

I don't know much about plants, but the only ones I see on your list that qualify are the water lettuce and the crypts, maybe the hydro and the blixa.

Floating plants are really good for ammonia-reduction. Water lettuce, Wisteria, Pennywort, Anacharis, Hornwort. Don't waste your limited space on Anubias(as much as I like them) and ferns and mosses.

You're going to need about 13W of CFL @ 6500K (Kelvin, color temperature). That's more than your desk lamp, I'm sure. Maybe you could use it as a desk lamp.

In my opinion, a planted tank is more for the keeper than for the fish, who would be happy with a small sponge filter and a few silk plants.You really should take this thread over to the "Planted Betta Tank" section of this forum. More knowledgeable gardeners hang out there.
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