Hey, I'm a new member here and joined because I'm considering/looking in to getting a betta fish. It has been literally years since I've had fish, and the last time they were goldfish picked out from an aunt's pond, not to mention I was young, so I really didn't know what I was doing.
I've started my homework, and I think I have a good, basic idea here, but since I'm not going to be doing this right away (if I do get a betta) I thought I would run my theoretical tank set-up by some people who could offer some tips and pointers. It also gives me the chance to ask a question or two that I have.
All right, I would be setting up a 10-gallon tank for a male -- I was considering doing a community but I'm not sure. The tank I'm looking at comes with a hood with an incandescent bulb, a Whisper 10i filter, and some Tetra AquaSafe Water Conditioner, so I'll need to purchase a heater as well. I'll also be buying a thermometer, of course.
I would like to stock the tank with live plants and, from what I have available, I'm considering Anacharis, Water Wisteria, and/or a Marimo Moss Ball. I'll use CaribSea FloraMax as the substrate topped with fine gravel. I've read that, doing it that way, there should be 2" of substrate and 1" of gravel -- is that agreed with here?
I'm still a little confused on caring for live plants, too...how many should I put in a tank with a single betta fish? Also, if there's just that one fish, I'll need fertilizers for the plants, right? I already know I'll need micro-nutrients.
Now, I took a quick look at a couple of things here about cycling a tank with plants; if putting plants in the tank would water conditioners be necessary as well? Or does that depend on the number of plants? Also, would aquarium salt (for freshwater) be a good idea still? I'll of course be doing the proper testing before putting the betta in, and I'll adjust him to the tank as well, but I'm a little confused on just how to go about setting everything up, I'll admit.
I'm also planning on adding one or two ornaments to the tank, something natural-looking that lets him hide and swim in and out of, and I was thinking of getting one of those Zoo Med betta bed leaves.
I used to have a planted 5gal tank. Fish : 1 male ct betta, 4 neon tetras. Plants from what i remember : moss ball, wisteria, dwarf hair grass. My gravel was some sort of substrate that was on sale. Put all your chemicals that you would normally put into a new aquarium. I think I had the tank and plants set up for like a week then i started adding my fish in there. Plantwise i put some root tabs in there, and dose seachem flourish. In a not high-tech type thats all i did to my 5gal tank. Dont think you need salt.
The incandescent light in the hood isn't good for you plants. A T8 fluorescent would be much better, that's what my 10 gallon tank setup from petco came with..... Water conditioner is a must, plants won't remove the chlorine..... Aquarium salt and plants don't mix, so that's a no go...... You could also look into doing an NPT, naturally planted tank with a soil base.
Ooo lights...I just replaced my incandescent in my 5gal with a plant compact fluorescent light bulb because I didn't want to buy a new hood/light fixture. One of those kinds that just replaces the incandescent.
A planted tank is a great idea.
1) Yes, do replace the incandesent bulb with a fluorescent. Not expensive and will keep your plants alive.
2) Yes, absolutely use conditioner -- ie dechlorinator -- even if you have plants. Plants won't absorb chlorine.
3) Yes, keep the tank for at least a week or two before adding your betta. Ideally, you should 'cycle' your tank before adding even one fish. Read up on the nitrogen cycle and 'fishless cycling'. Meanwhile you could have fun decorating and planting your tank1
All right, so I've been going back and forth on this the past few days, but I would honestly really like to do this.
I did decide to do the soil base opposed to the CaribSea FloraMax, and I'll pick up a T-8 bulb as well.
I've been doing more research and found a step-by-step guide to setting up an NPT -- I just have to find it again. I thought I had bookmarked it, but now I'm not finding it. I'll let that cycle before I work on acclimating the fish to the water; I'm thinking now of doing a divided tank for the time being, see how things go and, if the plants propagate, use stock from the first 10-gallon to stock a second 10-gallon and eventually move one of the bettas to that. I figured that way I can watch and see if I want to try a community with one of them.
My question related to that is: if the plants are from separate tanks at the store, should I quarantine before putting them into the tank? I know at least one of them is kept in a tank with some fish in it.
This decision is, honestly, semi-impulsive: the reason I started considering this was because a betta at the store caught my eye, and then a second one (hence thinking of doing a divided tank). If they're both still there I'll buy a couple 2.5-gallons and set them up nice (with a heater, of course, and someplace for them to hide) while the 10-gallon cycles and do regular water changes in the meantime.
I'm curious...does anyone keep a supply, so to speak, of pre-conditioned water for water changes? Or is that more of a hassle to do given water temps?
I know this is ambitious but, well, it would seem I sort of started off that way with wanting a 10-gallon and live plants.
Water conditioner - yes you will still need it for tap water, even with plants. Water conditioner is mainly to take out chlorine and chloramine, which are toxic to fish.
Community with betta - not a great idea. If you had been keeping bettas for at least a few months and knew more what you were doing, I'd say there are some species that can sometimes be mixed with a betta. But for a beginner that really only has some experience with goldfish as a kid - I'd say no. Maybe some mystery snails though.
Plants- you can put as many or as little as you want. Plants are a whole other living thing to take care of though. After several years (on and off) of keeping fish, I am just now delving into a planted tank. That tank is a community and is not very planted - yet. I'm getting there as finance allows. It's not sparse, but not really moderately planted either. With plants, you will need the nutrients like you mentioned - I use Florish. I would eventually like a CO2 system or Florish Excel if I could ever find it.
As a rule, you should always quarantine plants b/c they can carry disease on them. Whether you do it or not, is up to you. But better safe than sorry :)
I do keep pre-conditioned water. But I have 10 tanks also, and I breed. So I have an R/O filter that I run into a 45 gallon trash can, and I treat that water with IAL, Vita-Chem, and R/O Right. I also keep a heater in it.
Oh, no worries, the community wasn't an immediate sort of plan. Especially if I do end up getting two betta fish, I know 5-gallons each isn't large enough for a community, not with other fish at least. Also, I'd rather see what the bettas' temperaments are like first -- one that I have in mind is a fiesty red crowntail that I'm fairly certain would be better kept without tankmates if that's a consistent quality.
That was my thinking as well: better safe than sorry. Either quarantining or cleaning/disinfecting; after a little more research I might go with the cleaning/disinfecting if I can find the stuff. It strikes me as a little more efficient and thorough, I suppose is how to word my thoughts on that.
I was thinking of the pre-conditioned water because I know in a smaller tank the water will need to be changed frequently, but that might be at least as much effort (if not more) with the temperatures dropping in this part of the States and I might be better off just treating the water before I start the water change itself.
Anyways, tomorrow I'll look a bit more at what I have available to me in the area, if not start buying everything.
Also, thank you to everyone who's helped out and answered questions and shared some info -- it is truly appreciated. I've been interested in eventually keeping fish for a while now, but the fish I'd always been interested in require more space than I can provide at the moment; bettas give me an opportunity, but I do what I can to take care of my dog as best I can and I'd really like to do the same for any fish I get as well.