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Old 12-19-2010, 05:25 PM   #1 
elijahfeathers's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2010
Okay, so I want a planted tank. Help? xD

Hey there. So recently I made a rahter big move form MI to MN, and sadly I had to leave my fish behind. My family really likes them though, and with a bit of coaching on how to care for them, I know they're going to be doing well. However, I want a fish again.

This time, I'm just getting one. I'm buying things slowly, and right now I've just got an empty 10 gallon tank without a hood or anything really. I want to slowly build up something really nice before I even go out and get a little betta friend. And well... I've never even attempted anything like this before, but the planted tanks looks so pretty. C:

So, what I would like to know;

What do I need before I get plants?

What are some good plants for me to get?

How do I go about feeding/maintaining these plants? They're probably only going to be living with one spoiled betta, and alone for a while at first, until I finish building things.

About how much should I budget for/expect to spend on the plants themselves?

How much on products for the plants?

Are there some plants that should be avoided with a betta?

Anything else you think I should know?

Thanks so much in advance. C:

Last edited by elijahfeathers; 12-19-2010 at 05:26 PM. Reason: HTML fail. xP
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Old 12-19-2010, 05:56 PM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA of the biggest factor in planted tank success......and one that can cost the most....for low to mod light plants you want at least 20w 6500-6700k daylight bulb on a 10g-the light strip can cost some money unless you don't care if it matches the tank or anything...if on a budget you can go to places like home depot or wal mart and get non aquarium type light strip and bulbs...a lot cheaper and they may not fit perfect on the tank or even a desk type lamp will work too that uses CF type bulbs-I buy and use the GE brand daylight bulbs 20w 6500k for all my heavy planted tank for less than $5.00 each-you do need to change them out about every 6mo-1yr
I don't use hoods over my tanks either so I get better penetration of light to plant-just keep your water level at least half to 1in from the top-fish jumping reasons and splashing if you use a filter.

Substrate is next-if you don't want to spend the money on plant specific substrate or go the NPT direction with dirt or potting soil-you can find a small gravel at home depot for a decent price that will work or even play or pool filter sand-smaller gravel size the better with plants

Filter-the small tetra brand filter will work or a sponge filter with a betta and plants-you want to limit the amount of splashing on the surface so you don't gas out the natural CO2 that the plants love for energy/growth

Other stuff like decoration, driftwood can be collected locally and used with proper cleaning-not sure on your budget....but mine is limited so I do a lot of native collection for these type of things...

Plants-check your area for local aquarium club and the web-site they almost always have a trade/sale section and happy to help local fish keepers even if you are not a member of the club-good place to get supply too like light strips....and it can be really low cost if not free in some case especially if they have a lot of planted tank keepers or local fish shop-but they can have limited
On-line and someone just posted a great place to get on-line plants with low cost shipping
Types of plant-this list can be long-good starter plants-stem that are sold in bunches of 6-10-naja grass, rotala, lugwigia, myriophyllum, bacopa, hygrophila, mexican oak leaf, wisteria-rosette plants like swords, crypts, sags, vals, bulbs and corms like apons, lily and last if not least java fern, java moss, anubias-then floating plants-water lettuce, frogbit, hornwort and the list can go on and on.....

Ferts-usually you don't need much and often the fish waste and left over fish food and water changes will be enough in the beginning
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Old 12-19-2010, 06:03 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: North Carolina
alright, i'll try and answer some, but i'm just goin off my experience from the last month, haha.

first off, i'd go ahead and get a hood or find a light to use. 2 10w "daylight" 6000/6500 ish k cfl bubls will have you covered if you get a double light hood, or just one with higher wattage for a single lamp.

what you need before: research! go online and look at tanks (i vote, there's a ton of awesome tanks on there to get inspiration from! and a lot of low-tech, which i'm assuming you're gonna want to do) figure out what you want the tank to look like, what certain plants look like, what plants you like, etc.

i absolutely love water lettuce! it's a floater, it helps dim the light, and it sucks up nitrate. i'd also say java fern's easy, java moss is awesome, it looks seriously cool when put on a terracotta pot and made into a cave, also water wisteria & water sprite are good. mainly look for stem plants, they grow fastest and will keep your ammonia/nitrate levels down the best.

they'll probably be good. most plants will feed either from ammonia/nitrate that's in the water, or the fish poo/old food left in the gravel. that's what my plants have, and they've been doing good, even the irritating corckscrew vals which REFUSE to stay in the gravel are sprouting new leaves.

budget depends where you buy the plants. most plants will run about 2-4 dollars each, anubias tend to be more expensive tho. most of the "beginner" plants you'd want will be chaper than the "advanced" plants. probably about 15-20 dollars for plants, another 15 for shipping, usually.

you really don't need products for them.

bettas are good with most everyting i think. mine loved his water wisteria, until i had to throw it out due to it being contaminated by a toxin getting into the water.....

have fun!!! draw out sketches of what you want your tank to look like, look all over the web at sellers, tanks, imagine all the possibilities!!! and once you're done, sit back and appreciate your hardwork! :)
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Old 12-20-2010, 05:46 PM   #4 
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"Substrate is next-if you don't want to spend the money on plant specific substrate or go the NPT direction with dirt or potting soil-you can find a small gravel at home depot for a decent price that will work or even play or pool filter sand-smaller gravel size the better with plants"

sooo maybe a stupid questioooonnnn but, can you just use outside dirt? or my mom's potting soil to plant these plants in the tank? if so, cool :)
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Old 12-20-2010, 07:02 PM   #5 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
That is what I have in most of my tanks...dirt from my pasture-sifted first and added to a dry tank-then capped with sand to hold it down-it has to be pesticde, ferts, chemical free...other tanks I use plain potting soil with no additives and yet others have top soil with some plain clay kitty litter...all capped with sand.....with NPT you have to start out with lots and lot of plants...both stem and floating....need to do lot of research first...the NPT are not for everyone but are pretty awesome...
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Old 12-21-2010, 10:32 AM   #6 
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Well I'm reading up quite a bit on plants and such now, and I think I'll be able to do this decently. However, it seems with plants there will also be algae? The web sites I'm looking at recommended snails or cherry shrimp to take care of that-- but I've no idea how to feed those. D8 I also seem to recall hearing stories of bettas chocking on small shimp? Any advice?
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:11 AM   #7 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
With any container of water you are going to get algae-thats normal and expected it can also be a sign of healthy water in some cases(depending on the species of algae)....

Plants themselves do not cause algae per se...when we add plants we also add things that algae also needs to thrive like-light, nutrient substrate, have to balance all these things so that the plants will out compete the algae and use all that energy before the algae can use it and get out of control

Because the aquarium is a closed system we do have to intervene and remove some of the algae, however, you don't want to remove it all and you especially don't want to add any chemicals for control-

Livestock in the tank will feed off some of the algae and the micro-critters that live and feed in the algae itself-I always leave my non-viewing wall with algae on them-this is usually the back wall

When we create a little ecosystem in a box or closed system-we do have to control some of the algae by balancing the tank-the right light and photoperiod, ferts, water changes and adding of livestock like shrimp and snails can help to a degree with some species of algae but not all species-you don't want to add algae eating fish unless your tank can support them and again they will only eat some species of algae-some algae can even look pretty and help make the tank look more natural when kept under control...bottom line....we the hobbyist are the best controller of algae in a closed system..its just part of it and we don't want to try and create a sterile environment-everything in the tanks needs each other to thrive...chain of life...but controlled since it is a closed system....

In planted tanks adding shrimp and snail can help in several ways-eating some species of algae, micro-critters that feed off the algae and other things, shrimp shred decaying plant material so it breaks down faster, snails help with some species of algae on plants leaves, walls, decorations etc....snails eat decaying plant material, both shrimp and snail eat left over food and supply ferts and small amount of CO2 for plant energy.

Usually you don't need to add any extra or special food for shrimp and snails-but they will enjoy an algae wafer once a week-but you have to be careful adding too much food especially with common snails so you don't end up with a population explosion.

Last edited by Oldfishlady; 12-21-2010 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:27 PM   #8 
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Ontario, Canada
Here is my experience with planted tanks..

I started with a 46G Bowfront. Planted it with low-moderate light plants. I use normal gravel as my substrate. Plants like..Wisteria, various Crypts, Anubias, Java Fern, even a few sword plants. I used root tabs and Flourish excel for ferts. Things were slow to grow for sure...some more quickly than others.
Then I decided to try adding DIY CO2. There are recipes and do it yourself instructions all over the net. The growth has been impressive, for sure.

You said your tank is 10G. I also started up one of those. I bought a kit from Petsmart..came with the filter and heater and light. TopFin, I think. I'm in love with plants and basically filled up the 10 with clippings from my big tank. I wasn't excpecting much because I'd read a lot about light needs etcetc and was under the impression that the 'kits' weren't overly fantastic for a planted tank..however..
The growth is amazing! The Wisteria has literally taken over(I've had to throw clippings out as I have no space for them right now). The Crypts are sprouting a few leaves a week and the two Sword plants I moved over have reached the top of the tank in a very short time..even the Anubias are shooting out leaves at a surprising rate.
I use nothing in that tank except Flourish Excel..(I use it daily). I have normal black gravel as substrate. No ferts, no root tabs.

My lights stay on for about 10 hours and I haven't seen any algae growth except for whats on the leaves of the original Anubias leaves. I do have a couple of Briggs snails in there but I haven't seen them eat much algae to be honest. Also, as far as I'm aware the Flourish Excel helps against algae. I've seen some forums advise people to 'spot treat' problem algae with it.

I think a lot of people will advise using special substrate and dry fertilizers, which obviously won't hurt, but are really unnecessary if you stick with low to medium light plants IME.

Just my two cents :)
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:41 PM   #9 
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Hawaii- Go Diamond head!
^ +1

I am definatly NOT a plant expert, but I have done some research because I plan on getting a heavily planted sorority. Here's a website that has been reccomended to buy plants, and if you type the code BETTAFISH (in all caps) You get 10% off! Link:

Your plants can survive in gravel, particularly the low light ones. Java fern can survive almost everything and is beautiful, Anarchis is a super water cleaning plant, Marimo (moss) balls look awesome and is definatly reccomended for tanks with shrimp. Those are the only plants I've researched because they're the only plants I plan on owning since they are some of the easiest plants out there...

If your like me and am not very good with plants at all you might want to try Anubias, anarchis, java fern, java moss, and marimo balls. You'll probably want fertilizer and CO2 for the plants. These plants don't need it as much as the other plants and can survive without it, but they'll thrive with it. Good luck!
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