I have a betta all by himself in a 10 gallon tank, and I'm wanting to add live plants to his setup. I have never had live plants before and I'm wanting to know how difficult they are to take care of and what exactly is involved with them. I also need some suggestions as to what are good beginner plants.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Betta keeping.......and soon plant keeping....
Plants and planted tank are beautiful and a lot easier to care for than you think.
Using the correct light are a big part for successful planted tanks, you can go expensive or low cost, myself, I like the low cost and only buy/use regular CF daylight bulbs that range from 10-40w and 6500-6700k that cost me $5.00 each and I change them out every 6 months
I also remove the hood and use the lights directly over the tank so that I get better light penetration to the plants, I usually will have 2 fixtures to total 2-4 bulbs over my tank to get me 2-2.5wpg roughly.
Most of the new 10g set-up will have a bulb that is about 15w, not sure on the K rating and as long as the bulb is new and the hood is clean you can usually get enough light to get plant growth on the low light plants and some moderate light plants.
Good low/mod light plants are-ferns, moss, anubias, crypts, swords, sags, vals, naja grass, apons, lily, rotala, bacopa, anacharis, hygrophila, ludwigia, mecican oak leaf, cabomba, water lettuce, duckweed to name a few that I have had success with in low/mod light natural planted tanks.
The red and purple plants tend to lose color and turn green due to lower light and not using added CO2, but still grow without issues.
When buying plants at box type chain pet shop, be careful due to some are not meant to be under water and will rot and die fouling the water.
Especially the plants sold in tubes, most are not aquarium plants and often mondo grass is sold for aquarium use and this too will soon rot and die.
Grab a plant book off the shelf and look them up if you can- or research and write plant name down before you go shopping to insure that you get true aquatic plants.
Nothing worse than finding out that you bought marginal plants that will soon die in your tank and in turn discourages the hobbyist and they give up on keeping plants.....
Some plants will do well and other will not, you have to find what species works best in your source water, lights...etc......
I keep the natural planted tanks so I don't use ferts or CO2, not needed in this type of soil based planted tanks. The fish and other livestock are my ferts and the plants work as the filtration...low tech+low cost=lots of fun
A great place to get plants=your local aquarium club, ma & pa type pet shops, and online-Sweet Aquatic is a great place to get plants and the only place I have bought from online
Currently I'm going with ultra low-maintenance plants that don't need a dirt substrate and can survive in low lighting: java moss, java fern (really slow-growing, this one), water sprite, and Amazon Sword. All I do for them is to add some Leaf Zone to the water once a week.
The plants keep the ammonia and nitrates in check between water changes, but I still do need to keep up with weekly water changes. I'm looking into Diana Walstad's method, which when successfully implemented will require only one water change a year. The book cost me $20 and will probably take me a while to finish reading.
Thanks for all of the great information! is there any kind of special substrate that I need to use for plants? right now I have the epoxy coated colored gravel...will this work or will I need to get something different?
it depends on the size of the gravel. i use very fine black sand which caps my palmfiber peat. all the plants mentioned are awesome and iv even got my swords to successfully self propagate with minimum input on my part, iv developed a fixsation with moss and am now building up a collection of different types, i gotta import them so it tkes forever to get here.