I've been housebound for the last several years due to illness and have often struggled to do much of anything on my own. I looked to fishkeeping as a way to stretch my responsibility muscles and try to encourage myself to do more instead of sitting around all day waiting to get better... I've also spent a lot of the last few years on my own (despite living with my family; it has been difficult for them and I hope they can forgive me for not being as helpful around the house as I otherwise could have been) and wanted some company.
I wasn't sure if I bought a betta for the right reason but I've done everything I can to make sure that he knows he is home and that he is a welcome part of our family.
I've struggled a great deal to set up a suitable home for Kaze, my only betta, and have struggled even more with the water changes but as time has gone by I've learned how to cope with these things and the results so far are a happy, healthy betta who is very active and brightly coloured. I've improved health-wise as well (both mentally and physically).
I have Kaze in a 14 gallon aquarium at the moment that to be honest is just too darned big for me to take care of on my own so I thought a smaller tank would be better for me while a naturally planted tank would be better for Kaze. So, feeling more confident I decided to start one up in his old 6-ish gallon aquarium. With the live plants I would also feel comfortable adding red cherry shrimp (which is something else I've always wanted to keep) as there would be lots of cover for them...
And I love how NPTs look!
I've asked questions (some of them rather silly) and have received nothing but friendly responses from understanding people who share my great passion not only for aquatics but for life in general. I just wanted to thank all of you for your advice, compassion and general awesomeness.
I also wanted to share a photo of my NPT now that it's finished. I took it with my phone so the quality isn't brilliant but it shows what I've been busy with. The image looks a little yellow but I assure you the plants are green and look wonderful. The filter is off, I added it to help clear up the smaller particles of sand that were drifting in the water. I'm undecided as to whether or not I'll add a permenant filter yet (I don't know if I have enough plants to do the filtering for me) but regardless I actually like it. It's the first aquarium I've set up that I can honestly say I like. I just hope Kaze likes it too.
Its current inhabitants are a group of six malaysian trumpet snails (they've been very active since being added to this tank) and a single ramshorn snail that hitch-hiked on one of the plants. I'm going to order the red cherry shrimp soon (I'm still a little nervous) and once they've settled in will be adding Kaze. This tank was set up two days ago using old aquarium water and I'm already seeing a surprising amount of new growth.
I used one inch of dirt from my garden (which has various clays in it; I took out all stones, bits of twigs and grasses/seeds first. The soil in the attached image is deeper than it looks, the image ended up being cropped) and half an inch of aquarium sand - I will say that the layer of sand is a little deeper in some places than others. I've been trying to even it out but I've found it quite difficult. It's only been two days but things do look good. I'll be removing dead leaves and checking the ammonia levels every day while also keeping a close eye on growth. I didn't add any plant bunches behind the piece of driftwood as I didn't know if they would have problems being so close to the heater (the heater is rather large). I may add some stem plants in future once I'm sure they'll be safe.
And please excuse the miniature sun in the photograph... Looking to get better quality photos.