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Old 09-28-2011, 07:32 PM   #1 
shrazybunny
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Going to set up a NPT. So many questions...

So, after reading about everybody's NPTs, I really want one too.

First, this is what I already have:

So all I have is just my old 5 gallon, with a small piece of driftwood, a couple pieces of coral (not shown), and those shells. I'm not sure if I want to use the coral or shells... Plantwise, I have two 2 inch pieces of anacharis and a moss ball. I also have Aqueon plant food. And Remi, my betta. Can't believe I forgot the most important part :P

So, here come the questions... For buying stuff, I would like to get the stuff from Target, Lowes, Petsmart, and Walmart. The plants I will go to a farther away place to get them, since my Petsmart doesn't have any :(

Anyways, I'm thinking about soil capped with sand. The soil just has to be normal soil with no added fertilizers, etc, right? And I would have to poke holes in the sand every once in a while until the roots spread out? Would this sand work? http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...ductId=2753227

I need a light, right? I don't want to get a hood, and I can't seem to find a hood that fits the tank size. (I'll keep the water level lower. Would 2 inches from the top work?) What lights would you guys recommend? Light bulbs?

I want to get a snail or two also. I'm either going to get a mystery or nerite, since that's what my Petsmart has. Is one better than the other? Should I get 1 or 2? When QTing them, can I just stick them in a betta cup with lid and float it in my tank? I don't have any other tanks or heaters available, so...

And for plants... What plants would be good in the tank with the light provided from the light bulb? Would anubias work? I want to plant one on the driftwood... I would like to plant some ground cover... any suggestions? Also, would frogbit work to float on the top? Should I buy any other fertilizers to get the tank started?

Oh, and I can't have a filter on the tank. That would still work, right?


Thank you so much for reading this enormously long thing...
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Old 09-28-2011, 09:10 PM   #2 
shrazybunny
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Okay, so I have more questions that I forgot to add :P

When I get plants, do I just stick them in their own cup/tuppeware and wait 2 weeks? Won't that be hard to handle if I buy a lot? Also, how many plants should I get?
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:15 PM   #3 
Micho
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Welcome to the world of aquatic plants. :D First off I would like to say that I can not answer some of your questions, but I can answer the rest, and I'm pretty new at this so you might wanna get more answers from experienced members before going ahead, 'cause I'm usually wrong.

Anyways, with the driftwood and coral/shells. Dump the driftwood into a bucket, and fill it with boiling water, let it sit. Change the water everyday for three days, so your water in your tank won't turn yellow. Also with the shells I would suggest dumping them into a pot of boiling water and let them boil for awhile, they might change the pH of the water, same with the driftwood but I don't know by how much. As for the corals, I have no clue. :D

You can probably do 10 plants max, depending what size they are of course, you can try some anubias, and swords. Those ones are easy and they are quite hardy. I see you have liquid fertilizer, you might want to pick up root tabs too if you're going to do some root plants. For lights, just get them at Walmart, lighting department, any hardware store. Look for 6500k fluorescent light bulbs that can fit in your hood. Decorations, you can DIY or buy some, doesn't really matter, but if you're going heavily planted you won't have room for decorations too be honest.

As for soil, yes you're correct, no nothing. Target for some organic, no additives, no fertilizer type of soil. You could do sand too if you wish, gravel works well too, it doesn't really matter. Sand/soil looks better to me to be honest, and apparently it's easier to clean.

If you're not getting a hood, this might be hard. How are you planning to hang the lights above the tank? If you're planting you'll need 10 ~ 12 hours per day of light depending on what plants you get, some are low-light plants and some need moderate light. You could try making your own hood? Or ask hardware store to cut some glass/plexiglass for you to fit your top. As for lights, nothing fancy. Aim for 6500k fluorescent bulbs, that's your best bet for plants, you can find these at Lowes, Home Depot, etc for a much cheaper price than at pet stores.

Yeah sure QT the snail, I would consider getting a Nerite, they eat algae off your tanks. Beware though they grow, and they poop a lot. Feed them zucchini, since algae won't make them full. You could try some shrimps if you don't want a snail, shrimps clean the algae off plants and eat almost about anything. But sometimes Bettas use shrimps as tasty snacks, so you'll have to see if your Betta will get along with your shrimps. To QT a snail, just float him in a Betta cup for two weeks, remember to feed him! Or he'll cry. . .

If you're willing to buy the bulbs and leave them on for several hours per day, you could a variety of plants! Frogbit and duckweed I don't recommend them, they grow really fast and cover the top of your tank not allowing light to get to the other plants, you could do it if you want. Just have throw out the baby frogbit. You can find a whole lot of plants and what they need to thrive the most in this thread: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=76428

Also for fertilizers, depends what you get. If you get lots of non-root plants your current liquid one would do just fine, if you're planning to get rooted plants, I would suggest some root tabs. :] As for the filter, I would really recommend you get one, unfiltered means more water changes, more gravel vacuuming, it's really a pain, so I would suggest one.

As for QT plants, they need to be in the right temperature or they'll die and receive the same amount of light they do in the tank. You could really just stick them in your 5 gallons and wait five weeks while you let your Betta live in a different tank in the meantime, but yeah. You'll need to QT them and the tank.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:05 AM   #4 
shrazybunny
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Thanks for the reply! Its helped a lot!
About the hood and lights. I've seen people with lights clipped on, or a lamp put besides it shining down. Would that work? I would replace the lightbulb with a 6500k fluorescent.
Filter. I have a Marina filter that came with the tank Remi's in right now. I also have an air pump from an old filter. However, even though they're really quiet, they still make a slight buzzing sound. My mom read somewhere that its bad for you, since the tank will be in my room. Therefore, I'm not allowed to have a filter unless its completely soundless :( I'm totally fine with doing as many water changes as needed. I read somewhere that the tank eventually "cycles" because the plants act as a filter?
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Old 09-29-2011, 03:22 AM   #5 
Kytkattin
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You will need a lot of plants if you want it to act as a filter. At least 10 plants, depending on species of course.
As for lighting, I went with ecoxotic stunner strips and built my own hood after experiencing the same problem. Mainstream petstores seem to be phasing out 5 gallon tanks and all of their accessories. :(
However, the lights were very expensive. I think I paid about $120 for 2 lights. Worth it for me because they last for forever, but I know the upfront cost is very steep.
I have moss balls, christmas moss, and anubias. Along with IALs for tannins. I will have duckweed if that petstore ever calls me back...


Hood with one visible stunner strip.


Kind of an old picture at this point, but you get the idea. It is split in 2 for 2 bettas. Not recommended if you don't have a filter.
If you can swing getting a filter I recommend a Hagen Aquaclear. I have a 30 on mine, but a 20 worked before and would work fine for 1 betta. It seems silent to me, but I also live in a college dorm. Nothing is ever really quiet here. I have it baffled so the water doesn't even seem to move.
Also, I use some sort of Seachem substrate. Can't remember the name. I don't have any root plants so I am not sure why I shelled out the money for it. lol.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:08 AM   #6 
Princess Penny
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You can get regular light bulbs that are full daylight and just put them in a lamp over the tank. There are also many clip-on type light fixtures available that could work with that tank. Check Amazon. I also recommend checking out the lighting section of PlantedTank.net - lots of useful info there and everyone on the forum is super helpful if you get confused.

I wouldn't recommend using shells in such a small tank because no matter how long you boil them, they will still leech calcium carbonate which is not good for tropical fish such as betta!

For soil, make sure it's completely organic. That's really all I know because I don't use it in my tank, I just use sand with root tabs.

I prefer nerite snails, and QT'ing them like that should be fine :) I would probably get one for a tank that small and no filter.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:00 PM   #7 
Oldfishlady
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Besides the proper color temp light bulb...one of the most important things for a soil based tank...is enough of the right species of plants....otherwise the tank will crash and any life in it may die.......the plants are what keep the water safe.......

At least 75% of the floor needs to be planted in stem plants...at least 2 bunches of 3 different species...like-naja grass, water wisteria, hygrophilias, rotala, ludwigia and then some vals, sags and a small sword plant.....then you need floating plants like water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed...at least 25% of the top needs floaters.....

Once the rooted plants start to actively grow and you start trims weekly-re-plant these trimmings to nearly completely fill the tank....the roots will pull oxygen into the soil to help prevent anaerobic spots or even better...get some trumpet snails to do that for you until the rooted plants start to grow well......

Soil-can be from your yard or organic potting soil, top soil all work well...capped with either sand or small size gravel....the sand/gravel are to help keep the soil in place....so you use half as much of it than soil.....
For 5gal...1in soil and half inch sand/gravel

Lights.....good that you don't plan a hood-this is best for NPT.....find a light strip that will sit over the top
Light bulb-daylight 6500k is what you want for best growth on a 12h/day photoperiod..

Once you get it set up and planted proper-make partial water only changes until the water is clear-once it is at temp-add the Betta-you will need to make twice weekly water changes for the first month and then weekly...once mature(3mo More/Less) and plants healthy and actively growing....water changes are monthly to every 3 months

NPT or natural planted tanks are low cost, easy carefree once mature-the fish and livestock function as the ferts and the plants as the filtration......no added ferts or CO2 needed......
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:11 PM   #8 
shrazybunny
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If I were to get a strip light (like this? http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...uctId=11252589) , how would I keep it above the tank? Do I just balance it on either sides, or would I have to hang it from the ceiling?

Thanks for replying, everybody. Your tanks are so beautiful...
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Old 09-30-2011, 10:53 AM   #9 
Oldfishlady
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That will work...what I do with my open top tanks....I cut yard sticks to size so that they fit on the inner lip of my tank...I make 2 slats for the light strip to rest on-I place them at either end....(and they are strong enough to hold a fat cat too...lol....my cats like to sleep on my lights on the bottom rack)...anyway.....I also use two strip lights over most of my tanks unless the light strip has two tubes and some of my light strips are longer than the tank itself so I don't need any slats.....
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:30 PM   #10 
shrazybunny
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Okay. I'll see if the light fits when I get it.

One more question. Will a nerite snail eat my plants?
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