1. What type of plants have worked best for everyone? Live? Fake? Also kind of plants?
I use fake, large leafy ones that kinda half float, the parents and fry both love them. I attached some to some mesh i had left from dividing a tank i had and plan to add it to one of my smaller tanks once it drys <3
floating plants are nice too if you go the live plants route.
2. The sponge filters are a bit costly.. so I was wondering if anyone knew how to make one?
There are alot of tutorials on how to make one. it's basically sponge, air pump, air line tubing, adjuster valve and that's about it, i have a bubbler on the end of my tubing to weigh down the sponge...
My tubing/bubler/air pup and all that cost me less then $10 since i used the ones that came with a cheap 1 gallon tank. and the sponge i got is just a kitchen sponge(brand new) that i cleaned really well.
3. WHat type of things are used to make a good hide out spot for the female?
My leafy plants are great hiding and rest spots so i dont have anything els right now,i did have a clay pot cave in there but my male used it more then the female.
And last of all, for thoes who use live bbs, when do you start the hatchery? The day they spawn? A little sooner? How do you keep the extra bbs alive?
You can freeze the left over baby brine shrimp, otherwise they grow to big and use their egg sacks. I do know of some people who throw all their extra bbs and a larger tub and raise raise them to feed to their bigger fish. there are tutorials on youtube for this.
Also, you really do need a heater to keep them temp constant. the lights are fine for now, when you're not shutting them off because the dad need it to see the eggs, but that only last a couple days. Once you shut them off the temp will drop, turn them on it goes back up..these changes aren't good for the fry.
and yeah petsmart sells aquarium sponges.